A Proposed Framework for Research Data Management Services in Research Institutions in Zimbabwe

A Proposed Framework for Research Data Management Services in Research Institutions in Zimbabwe

Josiline Phiri Chigwada (Bindura University of Science Education, Zimbabwe), Thembelihle Hwalima (Lupane State University, Zimbabwe) and Nancy Kwangwa (University of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 25
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8437-7.ch002
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The chapter documents the proposed framework for the establishment of research data management services in research institutions in Zimbabwe. It has been indicated that there are no formal research data management services taking place in Zimbabwe as researchers are managing their own data. It is against such a background that a literature review was undertaken to understand how research institutions in other countries are engaging in research data services. E-mails were sent to the pioneers of research data services. It was discovered that there are challenges that are faced when establishing research data management services and it is important to consult all stakeholders at the planning stage. The framework consists of strategies, policies, guidelines, processes, technologies, and services.
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The chapter documents a proposed framework that can be used in Zimbabwe to develop research data management (RDM) services in research institutions. Published research (Chigwada, Chiparausha and Kasiroori 2017) shows that RDM is a new concept in Zimbabwe and research institutions are working towards the establishment of RDM services. This chapter would assist in unpacking the activities and processes that should be undertaken in establishing RDM services by proposing a framework that can be used. The objectives that are addressed by this chapter are:

  • 1.

    To identify the strategies that can be used to establish RDM services in Zimbabwe;

  • 2.

    To identify the stakeholders that can be involved in establishing RDM services in Zimbabwe;

  • 3.

    To assess the challenges faced when establishing RDM services in Zimbabwe.

  • 4.

    To propose a framework that can be used to establish RDM services in Zimbabwe.

A literature survey and document analysis were carried out to obtain the information from those with experience in the establishment of RDM services. Emails were sent to RDM ‘champions’ to gather as much detail as possible on how research institutions in Zimbabwe might establish RDM services.


What Is Research Data Management?

Research data management (RDM) is the organisation and description of research data, from its entry to the research cycle to the dissemination and archiving of the results (Whyte and Tedds 2011). Pinfield, Cox, and Smith (2014) point out that RDM addresses a number of information needs and is driven by the need to provide immediate data storage facilities; to ensure the security and long term preservation of data; compliance with the requirements and policies of other agencies such as funders; the quality of the research activity and research data itself; the need to share data and make it open access; and the jurisdiction to be involved in RDM and the involvement of other players in offering RDM services. Consequently, various initiatives were carreid out in Africa to establish research data management services and some institutions are now archiving research data locally, nationally, regionally and internationally.

What is a Research Data Repository?

A research data repository is a database infrastructure set up to manage, share, access and archive researchers’ datasets (Uzwyshn 2016). It can be institutional, national, regional or international and can be specialised or general. The main objective of establishing a research data repository would be to share data which would allow the examination, proof, review, transparency and validation of researchers’ results by other experts, whilst allowing simultaneous access by many researchers. Uzwyshn (2016) indicates that libraries should seriously consider partnerships with national and international organisations working towards the development of research data repositories, in order to provide the required information services and infrastructure. To manage research data effectively, there is a need to comply with funders’ and institutional policies. Jones, Pryor and White (2013) have written a guide, Delivering Research Data Management Services, for those who work in higher education institutions.

In the event that the institution does not have a data repository but wants to promote RDM services amongst its researchers, there are other avenues that can be utilised to ensure that research data is managed. In some cases, the funder might state the data repository that should be utilised by researchers when they are applying for funds. If the funder does not have a preferred repository, researchers can use discipline-specific repositories such as UK Data Archive for social sciences and humanities, arXiv for mathematics and physical science, GEO for genomic datasets, and some that are provided by PLOS journals or Scientific Data. There are general purpose repositories such as Zenodo and Mendeley data. In the absence of research data services, research institutions in Zimbabwe can encourage researchers to visit the registry of research data repositories (re3data) to find the best repository to host their data.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Research Data Repository: A database infrastructure that is set up to manage, share, access and archive researchers’ datasets.

Workgroup: Two or more individuals who routinely function like a team and are interdependent in achievement of a common goal.

Research Data Management: Covers the planning, collecting, organising, managing, storage, security, back-up, preservation and sharing data. It ensures that research data are managed according to legal, statutory, ethical and funding body requirements.

Data Librarian: Data librarians are professional library staff engaged in managing research data, using research data as a resource or supporting researchers dealing with data. They equip participants with the necessary knowledge to develop and implement services for research data management.

Community Of Practice: An informal, self-organized, network of peers with diverse skills and experience in an area of practice or profession. Such groups are held together by the members' desire to help others by sharing information and the need to advance their own knowledge by learning from others.

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