Refreshing the roses

With September marking the start of a new academic year, Manchester students are making their way into the University’s Main Library, site libraries, and website in increasing numbers. As the new students get to know what’s available to them, I’m minded to refresh my knowledge of some information resources, including those on Research Data Management (RDM).

Between November 2014 and February 2015, fellow Manchester RDM Service Team member Chris Gibson and I joined 18 colleagues from NoWAL institutions to participate in a four-day course in RDM that was tailored for information professionals. The course was none other than RDMRose, the result of a JISC-funded project from libraries at the universities of Leeds, Sheffield and York along with Sheffield’s Information School (iSchool), to produce RDM learning materials for teaching and continuing professional development.

RDMRose training in Manchester
Haley with Andrew Cox, RDMRose project director

The course, which met one day a month over four months, was led by Andrew Cox of Sheffield’s iSchool, the RDMRose project director, and ably supported by Eddy Verbaan, one of two research associates on the project. Andrew and Eddy used learning materials that were updated versions of the original RDMRose materials. We met at Manchester, with participants coming from the universities of Central Lancashire and Cumbria, Edge Hill University, Liverpool John Moores University, Nottingham Trent University, University of Salford, and University of Wolverhampton in addition to me and Chris. No two universities are alike, of course, and our conversations through group working and over coffee and lunch exposed us to different sets of experiences relating to RDM.

Each day was a mixture of types of sessions, and we were kept working all through the course, designing a support web site and a training program, reviewing sample data management plans, and examining policies for RDM and university repositories, among many other things. Having the sessions spread apart by several weeks allowed us not only to apply our practical takeaways between sessions, but also to do some “homework” (or is it “workwork” if you do it at work?) in order to report back to the group about data management practices at our own universities.

Even if you aren’t able to attend RDMRose training, you can still reap the benefits. The most recent version of RDMRose materials (version3) was released in April 2015 and is accessible via the RDMRose website. For those looking to extend their understanding of RDM, it’s well worth having a look – or at least bookmarking for later, once things calm down after the start of year.


Lifting the curtain on specialist business and financial databases

Liquid lunches

Several times each year, The University of Manchester Library staff are invited to take part in a “Liquid Lunch”.  Held at lunchtime, as you’d expect, this is a chance for staff to hear from speakers from around or outside the University on a variety of different perspectives and new ideas.  Those attending bring their own sandwiches and drinks are available.

Most speakers are external to the Library, but in March my colleagues in the Business Data Service (BDS) and I had a chance to present to the group.  The topic?  Specialist business and financial databases: Behind the curtain.


Specialist financial databases visualised as a tube map

With 30 interested colleagues from across the Library in attendance, we were happy to share some introductory information about how we help users of business databases get access to the data they need.

Xia Hong described the different coverage areas of BDS, including identification of existing Library resources, investigation of new resources, managing of databases, and advice and best practice on working with large datasets.

Phil Reed showed the topological tube network he’d made, explaining that some databases can only be accessed from certain computers in the Library, some can be accessed anywhere on-campus at Manchester, and still others can be accessed from anywhere with an Internet connection.  With over 50 databases covering business and management, choosing the right one is not always straightforward, and we work to help users find the right database.

We were joined by our colleague Jane Marshall, Academic Engagement Librarian for Manchester Business School (MBS).  Jane is the first point of contact for our academic colleagues, and she described her work arranging for curriculum-linked library or database training.

Bloomberg BESS screen 2Earthquakes and equity

Brian Hollingsworth gave a demonstration of Bloomberg.  He showed some of the most-used areas such as share price data, alongside some of the unexpected areas of information such as earthquake data.  Brian holds Equity Essentials certification in the Bloomberg Essentials Training Program, and it was easy to see the depth of his knowledge about what Bloomberg offers and how to access it.  Students who pursue certification will find it increases their skills in working with Bloomberg and also may make them more attractive to prospective employers.

As the newest member of the team, having joined in January, what did I do?  I posed example questions from students, academic staff and non-academic staff; these questions were answered by the others in the team.  Knowing the kinds of questions that come to us helped our colleagues understand more about what we do.

Engaging with our colleagues

Initial feedback on the presentation was positive.  Some questions posed, such as those about how we evaluate our services and how the MBS redevelopment will enhance our services, provide good food for further thinking and development.  Our colleagues were enthusiastic about Bloomberg and all the information it holds; we may see many new users coming to our Bloomberg terminals!

Planning and delivering the presentation gave our team a chance to consider what we though our colleagues might not already know that we’d like them to know.  We would recommend this type of presentation to other teams at Manchester and beyond.  What might be hiding behind a curtain near you?