Turning research data management projects into business as usual and improved data management across the enterprise: the La Trobe experience

Dr Andrew Williams1, Ms Eva Fisch1, Ms Rachel Salby1

1La Trobe University, Bundoora, Australia, a.williams3@latrobe.edu.aue.fisch@latrobe.edu.aur.salby@latrobe.edu.au


La Trobe University is nearing the end of a period of intense, project-based change in the research data management space. Outcomes from recently completed projects at La Trobe include a research data management planning tool, an electronic lab notebook, Figshare, and platforms for publication of surface science and RNA sequence data.

We are very conscious that, while research data management systems are successfully delivered by projects, real improvements in actual management of research data can only be realised with a coordinated approach to communications and change and to supporting researchers in improved research data management practice.

As we transition from projects to business as usual, dedicated project staff are returning to their substantive roles and project knowledge is at risk of dispersing. It is clear that one shot training sessions, expecting generalist research support librarians to be technical experts, and relying on project documentation won’t be enough to stand up ongoing support.

We are using several approaches to transfer knowledge to the teams who will be responsible for supporting these systems:

  • storage of documented knowledge in places that are accessible and searchable by support staff
  • secondment of support staff into project roles while opportunities are available as a strategy to upskill them in research data management
  • actively working to transfer knowledge with hands-on systems training in the concluding phases of the projects
  • encouraging support staff to volunteer to be champions and ambassadors for systems
  • internal communities of practice and discussion groups focussed on research data management issues.

We feel that support staff need to feel they have ownership and investment in the transition to make it succeed, and are working to create that.

Finally, we are also looking to convene University governance for research data management that will ensure support is coordinated across a number of providers.

This presentation will provide a detailed case study of the ways La Trobe University is transitioning from multiple projects to an enterprise-wide, business as usual support for improved management of research data.


Rachel provides expertise to help develop research data management training, support research data management systems, and to plan and execute support for research data management processes, including the transfer of skills and expertise, from enterprise research data management systems projects to the library research team.

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