The Engineering Research Information Management (ERIM) Project
ERIM is a JISC-funded research project which aims to specify in practical terms how effective data management can be enabled and supported in research projects, particular to support reuse or more broadly what can be thought of as 're-purposing'. The project will look primarily at the engineering research domain.
Background to the Research
The project will establish the state of the art and then understand the barriers to re-use, these being considered to be a combination of technical, contextual, social and legal ones. In parallel, the opportunities and benefits of information and data set re-use will be made. A key factor to establish will be what structures, formats, metadata and so on are needed to make these information and data sets amenable to re-use and reinterpretation in the future.
The research work will be enabled by full access to two aspects of the University of Bath's EPSRC-funded Innovative Design & Manufacturing Research Centre (IdMRC).
This means access to the data and information sets and to the researchers at all levels. The first area of study will be the recently completed EPSRC/ESRC-funded Grand Challenge project on knowledge and information management through life (The KIM Project). The additional beneficial aspect of this is that it enables the work to be undertaken at some of the eleven other Universities involved with research on the KIM project and with researchers from a variety of disciplines, namely engineering (aerospace and construction), management, social science and library science. The second area of study will be the parts of the IdMRC concerned with, for example, engineering metrology and constraints management.
Preliminary studies will identify the spectrum of research data types encountered by the engineering disciplines and then more broadly the research establishment. From these disciplines representative research activities and data types will be selected as case studies. These case studies will form the core research material for the project as a whole.
The Objectives of the Research
- To establish the state of the art in data curation and re-use. The research will also establish the principles for curation and re-use used in other sectors in both research and non-research spaces.
- To identify and characterise up to six case studies of representative datasets for scrutiny.
- To identify opportunities for and the benefits of research data re-use and 're-purposing'
- To identify the contextual, technical, legal and social barriers to the re-use and repurposing of research data.
- To establish whether and what data might be used in its raw form, what will require reprocessing and how.
- To understand what contextual information is required for research data to be understood for the purpose of re-use.
- To provide data management plans for selected representative data sets.
Progress of the Research
Through a scoping study followed by a set of data case audits the character and scope of engineering research data has been established, analysed and classified. This new understanding of such research data has allowed a model of the research data development process to be devised and a means developed of tracking information development during the research activity such that better management can follow. This approach is known as Research Information Activity Development (RAID) modelling.
At the same time a Terminology is in development which, for the first time, provides for a better means of communication about the subject of research data development and management.
The following deliverables have been completed; those now available in the public domain are linked to copies of the material.
- A report on the state of the art in data curation for reuse and repurposing.
- A report identifying and characterising case study material, plus example audited case study data showing a means of representing Research Activity Information Development (RAID)
- A report on opportunities for research reuse and repurposing of data, dealing particularly deal with barriers to such.
- An Analysis of the support for data re-use and repurposing embodied in existing data management planning best practice.
- A set of Engineering Data Management Principles, from which,
- an Engineering Research Data Management Plan Requirement Specification (ERDMPRS)
- A Draft DMP for the IdMRC Projects; this being an implementation of the ERDMPRS. It fulfils the requirement of a specification which may be used as the basis for a data management for any specific IdMRC research project.
- A set of use cases and a high-level Requirement Specification for a RAID Associative Tool, known as RAIDmap.
- The progress of the research has been presented to the other projects within the JISC MRD Programme, and the insights and developments warmly welcomed by the research community.
- A poster has been presented at the Sixth International Digital Curation Conference in Chicago.
- A paper has been submitted to the International Conference on Engineering Design 2011.
- A journal paper is in progress.
- The ERIM Project has been selected as a case study for the research community to be presented on two occasions in 2011
The Research Team
The project is being overseen by Professor Chris McMahon, and line managed day-to-day by Chris McMahon and Professor Steve Culley (for the IdMRC at the University of Bath) and by Michael Day (for UKOLN/DCC). The development of the project is being overseen by a Steering Committee consisting of Steve Culley, Chris McMahon and Liz Lyon, in addition to Professor Alison McKay of the University of Leeds, who was a member of the KIM Project team. The role of the Steering Committee is to oversee the project and endorse any proposed major changes to the project plan.