VU RDM support: a help desk and a support community

As researchers across disciplines seek to ensure reproducibility and validation of their work, the importance of research data and research data management (RDM) grows. Good data management practices allow researchers to work with their data efficiently. Funders and publishers try to incentivize good RDM by encouraging data reuse and acknowledging data as a valuable research output. For example, many funders nowadays ask researchers to submit a data management plan (DMP) at the beginning of their project. Many publishers require a data availability statement as part of the manuscript.

As researchers are subjected to various funders and publishers' requirements surrounding research data, they also need to receive the necessary support to fulfill them. To help researchers navigate the dynamic and quickly changing landscape of RDM, the VU library has launched RDM Support Desk - a team of RDM specialists ready to help researchers with any question related to data management. The team is well-connected to other services at the VU, for example, IT, security, privacy lawyers, intellectual property specialists. These connections ensure that even complex questions are answered quickly. To contact RDM Support Desk, one needs to send an email to rdm@vu.nl. Most faculties at the VU also have dedicated research data stewards. They act as primary contact persons for any RDM-related questions and help researchers find the best suitable solutions for their disciplines.

The VU is actively developing the infrastructure to help researchers comply with funders' and publishers' requirements. For example, already at the beginning of their project, researchers can use DMPonline for writing a data management plan; this tool is well-suited for collaboration and has built-in functionality to request comments from the VU RDM specialists. Since recently, the VU offers a cloud storage solution suitable also for personal data - Research Drive. There are solutions to reliably store a dataset for several years for verification purposes, such as DarkStor. VU researchers who want to make their dataset publicly available can use DataverseNL. It is also possible to register a dataset at the VU Research Portal. Registration can be done for any dataset, even if the dataset is not meant to be accessible to others; registering its name in a catalog like VU Research Portal helps increase the whole project's visibility.

Next to providing advice, the goal of the VU RDM Support team is to create an environment to facilitate conversations about research data, research transparency, open methods, and open science within the university community. Research Data Management, in general, is not something new for researchers; however, this topic is rarely discussed and receives much less attention than the classical research output, namely papers describing research results. There are many ways for the researchers at the VU to participate in the emerging RDM community:

  • Follow @VU_RDM_Support on Twitter; comment, retweet, send direct messages
  • Attend VU Data Conversations - a meeting series aimed to create a discussion around the questions of research transparency, reproducibility, open methods, or open data. The upcoming Data Conversations meeting appears on the VU libcal.
  • Give a 10-minute presentation on the topic of your choice at one of the VU Data Conversation meetings. Fill out this form, and the RDM Support Desk will get in touch with you.
  • Sign up for the bi-monthly VU Research Support Newsletter
  • Send an email to rdm@vu.nl with your feedback, ideas, and suggestions

In the future, the ambition of the RDM Support Desk is to set up a data champions program at the VU – an initiative to give visibility to those researchers who are interested in research data management and can volunteer their expertise to help their colleagues.

Don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or would like to participate in some of our activities. You can email Lena Karvovskaya, the community manager RDM, directly e.karvovskaya@vu.nl  or use rdm@vu.nl.

UvA RDM website
UvA RDM Support email
Data stewards UvA website

Data management VUmc website*
Amsterdam UMC SOP Research Data Managemen website*

Clinical Research Unit – Research Data Management website*
SOP Research Data Management website *

* Intranet