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The UK's largest digital collection of social sciences and population research data

Research Data @Essex

The Research Data @Essex project, funded under the Jisc Managing Research Data Programme 2011-2013, piloted the development of a research data management and sharing infrastructure for the University of Essex. It built on the Archive's existing work with Jisc and ESRC on managing and sharing data.

We developed an institutional research data repository, Essex Research Data, based on a highly customised version of the EPrints institutional repository software suited to storing and presenting research data. The ReCollect app was published via the EPrints bazaar, and allows institutions to set up their own EPrints-based data repository. Development focused on expanding the EPrints metadata profile to allow the capture of detail necessary for describing a wide diversity of research data collections, while also meeting standards relevant to UK Higher Education. The metadata profile adopted is based on DataCite (2012) and the European INSPIRE metadata schema (INSPIRE, 2009), and is compliant with the international specification Data Documentation Initiative 2.1. (DDI, 2011), used by the UK Data Archive and social science data archives around the world.

In addition, the user interface was adapted to showcase complex collections consisting of many files and associated metadata, alongside a refined deposit workflow. Work also included the evaluation and selection of suitable licensing agreements for research data; methodologies for attaching persistent identifiers to the data collections, including DataCite Digital Object Identifiers; and the development of a user guide for preparing and depositing research data in such institutional repository. By April 2014 the ReCollect software had been taken up for piloting by seven institutions and the UK Data Service launched its new ESRC repository, ReShare, based on the EPrints ReCollect software.

Besides the repository development, the project also developed an institutional data management policy for the University and a roadmap for compliance with the UK's Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) policy framework on research data. Data management guidance and training are also provided for the University's research community.

Archive contribution

The project team, led by the Research Data Management Support Services Section of the UK Data Archive, worked with staff from Information Systems and Services (ISS), the Research and Enterprise Office (REO) and Records Management at the University of Essex. The team worked closely with four of the University's research-rich departments: Biological Sciences, Essex Business School, Language and Linguistics, and Computing and Electronic Systems. This involved evaluating current research data management and sharing practices, as well as ingesting representative sample data into the pilot repository, including proteomics and bio-imaging data, socio-linguistic data, artificial intelligence data and management research data. Close working with researchers ensured ample testing and polishing of the software.

Principal Investigator: Louise Corti
Funder: Jisc
Dates: January 2011 - March 2013
Contact: Research Data Management