Challenges and Opportunities for Research Data Management

Daniel Tsang gave a presentation on the role that librarians can play in research data management held at the Li Ka Shing Library, Singapore Management University on 7 January 2014. Daniel served as data librarian at the University of California (UCI), Irvine as a data librarian since 1986. He recently chaired a working group for OCLC which has released its report, Starting the Conversation: University-wide Research Data Management Policy.

At UCI, one of the findings of the Faculty Assessment of the State of Research Computing Report was that “long-term research data storage, and associated data management, is the single most critical research computing need not being met on campus.” The report provides the library with opportunities to provide support in this area. The library plans to recruit a new head of E-Research and Scholarly Communications. They are potentially implementing DataShare for deposit of and access to research data generated by UCI faculty and researchers. They are working on collaborating with faculty on archiving research conducted from and around Orange County, especially in the area of biodiversity. They intend to enhance their subject guides for data sources and data management.

On the researcher’s side, the challenges for data include: data sharing culture varies by discipline, need to protect their ideas, sensitivity of data, and lack of consent from respondents to share the data.

Some of the challenges to librarians supporting research data management include, lack of skill-set, lack of knowledge about faculty research or sub-disciplines. These factors are exacerbated by the already full work loads of existing librarians and the lack of experience in data stewardship or data curation.

He highlighted the training courses available from University of Edinburgh and Vanderbilt University on research data management as possible ways to address the lack of skills and knowledge.

The talk was attended by 53 people mostly from academic libraries with some from the special libraries. The presentation is available at


Reported by Yeo Pin Pin, Li Ka Shing Library, SMU