Using a Behavioural Framework to Understand and Modify Researchers’ Data Management Practices

Ms Kylie Poulton1, Ms Sue Hickson2, Ms Maria Connor3

1Griffith University, Nathan, Australia,

2Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia,

3Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia



The release of the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry Report into Data Availability and Use [1], may herald a new era of data eminence in Australia.  While the major funding bodies, the ARC and NHMRC, have policies that strongly encourage researchers to deposit their research data in an appropriate repository, the Commission’s recommendations could see a strengthening and tightening of this policy.

With stronger mandates in place researchers may be compelled to, at the very least, formally plan how they will manage their data and may possibly be required to make their data accessible to others.  Librarians and data managers are in a unique position to enable researchers’ to transition to new data management requirements.


This presentation will report on the second phase of a unique research project that investigated if librarians and data managers can modify researchers’ data management practices by understanding their practices through a conceptual framework, the A-COM-B model.

In the first phase of the project the research team investigated the data management behaviours of members of a high-profile, interdisciplinary, social science research group with the objective of encouraging them to use the institutions data management solutions.  The project analysed data management behaviours using the A-COM-B framework.  Wolski and Richardson [2] developed the A-COM-B framework, based on the COM-B model developed by Michie et al. [3].  As illustrated in Figure 1, in the A-COM-B model, A = Attitude; C = Capability; O = Opportunity; M = Motivation; and B = Behaviour.  The project aimed to find out whether understanding data management behaviours through the A-COM-B lens could be used to plan intervention strategies.


Figure1: A-COM-B framework for understanding behaviour.

The initial findings of the research project were reported in Hickson et al. [4]  The authors concluded, “By using this framework, practitioners can design intervention strategies that are aligned to individual need, and that lead researchers to using safe and secure institutional solutions and services.” [4]



In this presentation the authors will discuss their response to the initial research findings and report on Phase 2 of the research project, specifically:

  1. The results of a follow up survey to discover whether researchers’ have modified their data management behaviour in response to interaction with librarians.
  2. The development of best practice guidelines tailored for the research centre based on the initial research findings.
  3. The development of a toolkit based on the initial research findings and framed around the A-COM-B model that can be used by librarians and data managers to inform their engagement with researchers around data management.
  4. The development of a training program for librarians and data managers focusing on researcher engagement using the A-COM-B framework.

This presentation will be of interest to librarians, data managers, project managers and researchers and would be suited for “The Connected Researcher” stream.


  1. Productivity Commission, Australian Government, Data availability and use: Productivity Commission Inquiry Report Overview and Recommendations, Productivity Commission, Editor. 2017.
  2. Wolski, M. and J. Richardson. Improving data management practices of researchers by using a behavioural framework. in THETA 2015 Create, Connect, Consume. 2015. Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia: CAUDIT.
  3. Michie, S., M.M. van Stralen, and R. West, The behaviour change wheel: A new method for characterising and designing behaviour change interventions. Implementation Science, 2011. 6(42): p. 1-12.
  4. Hickson, S., et al., Modifying researchers’ data management practices: A behavioural framework for library practitioners. IFLA Journal, 2016. 42(4): p. 253-265.



Kylie Poulton began her library career as a researcher in investment banking before joining Information Services at Griffith University.  During her career at Griffith, she has held roles in Liaison Librarianship, Project Management and Change Management.  She has also led Griffith’s Higher Education Research Data Collection team and worked as a project officer in the University’s Research Office.  She is currently Griffith University’s Business Librarian. Her research interests include data management and text and data mining.

Sue Hickson is a Library Services Manager (Business) at Griffith University and a librarian by profession. Sue is responsible for leading a team of Librarians, Learning Advisors and Digital Capability Advisers who support academics, researchers and students in the areas of Research, Learning and Teaching. Previously Sue was a Faculty Librarian supporting Griffith’s Health Group.

Maria Connor is the Business Librarian at Griffith University Gold Coast campus. She holds an MLIS from Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand.

Recent Comments