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Teaching Research Data Management: It Takes a Team to Do It Right!

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2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 23, 2018

Start Date

June 23, 2018

End Date

July 27, 2018

Conference Session

Engineering Libraries Division Technical Session 4

Tagged Division

Engineering Libraries

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Paper Authors


Larry Schmidt University of Wyoming Orcid 16x16

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Larry Schmidt is an associate librarian at the University of Wyoming and is the current Head of the Brinkerhoff Geology Library. He holds BS degree’s in Chemistry and Biology, MS Degree in environmental engineering from Montana State University and received an MLS from Emporia State University in 2002. His interests lie in providing undergraduate and graduate students with information, data and science literacy skills that will allow them to succeed in a global economy.

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Joseph H Holles University of Wyoming

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Associate Professor, Department of Chemical Engineering

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Teaching research data management (RDM) to the next generation of researchers is an important component of both graduate and undergraduate education. Many undergraduate students have opportunities to work in labs, create their own research projects, and create and use data in both classroom and research environments. With the current emphasis from funding agencies on making data freely available, not to mention research accountability, our federal, state and not for profit institutions are emphasizing applied RDM planning. RDM is an important component of research and is fundamental to maintaining a well-run research program or project. Not only do our students and faculty need to be well versed in RDM for their own labs, the trend toward interdisciplinary research will create a high demand for individuals well versed in RDM planning. These pressures have created a need to develop classes, workshops and other instructional delivery methods prepare our students for a competitive changing research environment.

The need to teach the next generation of researchers RDM skills is supported by literature on topics covering knowledge and preparedness of graduate students in research environments, RDM instruction seminars, workshops and courses, and assessment of recent courses and workshops that provide RDM instruction. The experiences of instructors from a variety of backgrounds including research faculty, legal personnel, information technologists and librarians suggest that RDM instruction is a multidisciplinary endeavor. This indicates that instructional efforts from any one of these backgrounds does not adequately cover all of the material needed to teach RDM to students. Creating an appropriate education for RDM requires a coordinated effort between all stakeholders, especially if we want to improve the support for interdisciplinary, multi-institutional research projects. Using a team approach including both a librarian and research faculty member takes advantage of the unique strengths and knowledge each bring to the collaborative team approach thus delivering an interdisciplinary experience for students. A collaborative team teaching approach can meet the needs of researchers, funding agencies and students who are actively involved in complex research projects or programs.

To properly deliver our RDM course material we developed a team approach that included a librarian and a research active faculty member. Together we identified guest lectures from the University Libraries, Information Technology, Office of Research and individual researchers from a variety of disciplines. These guest lecturers rounded out the collaborative team approach to RDM instruction by including a mixture of experience and topics. Recent literature illustrates the collaborative approach builds on individual strengths and experience broadening the scope of coverage. Although the team approach sounds good, there can be some obstacles to overcome. This paper will discuss past, current and future practices for teaching RDM to graduate and undergraduate students including the strengths and weaknesses of using a team approach. Using experience from a recent co-taught class and feedback from guest lectures, collaborating researchers and students will give specific examples of how a team approach can be applied to RDM instruction.

Schmidt, L., & Holles, J. H. (2018, June), Teaching Research Data Management: It Takes a Team to Do It Right! Paper presented at 2018 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition , Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--31061

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