ILIFU RDM Research: Developing the workforce of a national data node

Dr Dale Peters1, Dr Elisha Chiware2

1UCT, Cape Town, South Africa,

2CPUT, Cape Town, South Africa,


ILIFU is the isiXhosa word for Cloud, an apt representation of the first node in the data infrastructure funded by the Department of Science and Technology to support the National Integrated Cyberinfrastructure System of South Africa.  This presentation will provide an overview of the ILIFU model of shared infrastructure as a data-intensive research facility for big data management, storage and analysis. It will focus primarily on the research data management (RDM) research component of the project from conception to current operationalisation.

Preliminary findings will be shared with the community to raise awareness of the project, its methodology and its structure, designed to facilitate cross-institutional collaboration.  The overall project has a strong emphasis on human capital development, to develop the workforce required to operate the regional data node. Engagement with researchers in designated domains of astronomy and bioinformatics enable the collaborative development of policies and guidelines to support users of the infrastructure.  Significantly, the RDM research project fulfils an important function in support of institutional capacity building across participating institutions, where project findings will serve to promote institutional policy implementation and service development.

The presentation will offer insights into issues of data management, data governance, and the interaction between scientists and information professionals in building an African data infrastructure.

Keywords: Research data management; Policies; Guidelines; Collaboration; Shared infrastructure.

  1. Outline
  • ILIFU project overview

Cloud Infrastructure

Science – Astronomy and Bioinformatics

RDM research project

  • Objectives of RDM project Software platform

RDM services

  • RDM Project methodology

Structure –  PM team, Work groups – 0,2 FTE, cross pollination

Implementation plan – currently in execution, deliverables

Communication plan – between work groups and external awareness raising

Researcher engagement

  • Preliminary findings: Opportunities

Figshare –  SAAS license model

New multi-institutional collaboration

Community engagement – conferences, events, NeDICC presentations

Capacity Building

  • Preliminary findings: Challenges

RDM learning curve

Time pressure of project work

Remote collaboration –technical challenges with Skype, Slack

Institutional participation- varied qualifications, management of 0,2 FTE

  • Discussion

Limited proposal planning period – application of initial capabilities survey

Team selection and specialisation needed more attention

Work in progress – assigning responsibilities, enabling growing areas of specialisation

National benefits – figshare brokering service model, data management guidelines for relevant domains

  1. References



Dr Dale Peters is Director of eResearch at the University of Cape Town, provisioning networked infrastructure tools and services to support innovative research practice in data-intensive science. She convened the Work Group for the Data Intensive Research Initiatives of South Africa (DIRISA), established in the National Integrated Cyber-Infrastructure System (NICIS) in 2013. She has served on international expert groups to identify principles and potential policy actions to promote open and sustainable international data networks.

Elisha R. T. Chiware is the Director of CPUT Libraries at Cape Peninsula University of Technology. He has worked on the development of a national statistics database for academic libraries in South Africa and he is currently involved in DIRISA as the Chair of the Research Data Management and Open Science Research Group. He has worked in academic libraries in Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe and South Africa.

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