Piloting the Research Data Manager system at UQ: DMRs, PiDs and tears of joy

Dr Andrew Janke1,2, Ms Helen Morgan2

1 Research Data Services/The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia, andrew.janke@uq.edu.au

2 The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia helen.morgan@uq.edu.au


The University of Queensland has invested in data management systems and is building a reputation as a trusted provider of research data. This is for a number of reasons, but is driven by the need to ensure that all research at UQ abides by the Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research[1], and that UQ research data meets the FAIR data principles [2].

The Research Data Manager (RDM) system has been developed with researchers and aims to be useful, enabling best practice research data management with minimal disruption to normal workflows. To meet this need a small project team designed and implemented a minimal viable metadata Data Management Record (DMR) based system [3, 4].

The system that has been built is centred on research projects rather than individuals, and looks to solve the working research data problem at a national level for research that involves UQ collaborators. This is achieved by defining access to data based upon AAF [5] credentials, thus easing the path for collaboration.

In order to further promote and ease collaboration the UQ RDM system is integrating with the Research Data Services (RDS) led Research Activity identifier (RAiD) project [6]. In the system each DMR has a unique, persistent identifier – a RAiD – associated with it. This will allow integration of the UQ system with both other institutions and service providers in Australia and in time internationally. The combination of a DMR with a RAiD allows for trusted published research outputs, tracking back from publications to the source research data and to the project that originally generated the data.


The new system is currently being piloted across the university with researchers including with HDR students and their supervisors. They are able to use the system in the course of their ongoing research projects and provide feedback to the project team to ensure the system works for their discipline specific requirements.

We ask them to provide a small amount of information about how they currently manage their research data, if they are using any existing UQ systems, if there are any perceived ‘gaps’ or if there is anything we can do to make things easier for them to work collaboratively. We then follow up with them after using the system to see how they are finding it.


The reaction to the new pilot system has been unexpectedly emotional. We’ve had tears of joy, relief the frustration is finally over, elation, threats of hugs, and dusty external USB drives flashed at us. So why the massive and emotional response?

The RDM system was designed from day one to solve real problems people were facing on a daily basis. Researchers, administrators and executive level staff all face challenges relating to research data and how it is managed. Fundamentally, all are engaged in the process of scientific advance which is aided by the highest quality of data, and they care that this data is FAIR into the long term.

This meant engagement with researchers and end users early in development and getting researchers to engage with the RDM system by making it all about them (but not really!). As such, the RDM system has goals to allocate data within 5 minutes of submitting a request and to not interrupt existing (good) workflows that have been developed over many years. The barrier of entry needed to be so low that it was easier to use it than not use it, this then dictates that the system can only collect minimal data.


Based on evaluations of the system received to date, we are prioritizing efforts around a couple of different pieces of development work. One is enabling international collaborators to access the system, another is developing workflows to allow for the automated archiving and publishing of research data.

This presentation will demonstrate the new RDM system in context of the pilot, researcher’s responses, and how we are addressing them. We hope by continuing to listen to researcher’s feedback, and to integrate solutions where they make sense, that we will continue to receive the positive responses we have seen to date!


  1. Australian Code for the Responsible Conduct of Research https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines-publications/r39
  2. FAIR data principles https://www.force11.org/group/fairgroup/fairprinciples
  3. ANDS blog post http://andscentral.blogspot.com.au/2017/05/dmrs-making-dmps-relevant-again.html
  4. ARMS paper – “accepted” http://www.arms2017.org.au/program.html
  5. http://aaf.edu.au
  6. raid.org.au



Andrew and Helen lead the RDM@UQ project, they have a broad combined skill set of Clinical Trials, Reproducible Research, Preclinical and Clinical Imaging, Project Management, Research Impact, Policy and Guideline Development, Research Data Management and BioInformatics.

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