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h.dekker's blog

Teaching integrity in empirical research: a soup to nuts protocol

Great work by Richard Ball, an Economics professor at Haverford College and Norm Medeiros, a Haverford librarian. I'm already planning to incorporate their protocol into my formal and informal data literacy instruction. I highly recommend a visit to their website: Teaching integrity in empirical research: a soup to nuts protocol

They've also published a paper on their work. Here's the abstract:

This article describes a protocol the authors developed for teaching undergraduates to document their statistical analyses for empirical research projects so that their results are completely reproducible and verifiable. The protocol is guided by the principle that the documentation prepared to accompany an empirical research project should be sufficient to allow an independent researcher to replicate easily and exactly every step of the data management and analysis that generated the results reported in a study. The authors hope that requiring students to follow this protocol will not only teach them how to document their research appropriately, but also instill in them the belief that such documentation is an important professional responsibility.

Results of Data Management Plan Poll

Those members who follow IASST-L may recall that about a month ago I launched an informal poll to find out whether or not your data management plan services include reading and reviewing draft plans. I had a total of 22 respondents with the following results:

Does your data management plan service include reading and reviewing draft plans?

  • 18% (4) - Yes, as a matter of  policy.
  • 36% (8) - Not a policy, but I have reviewed them in the past.
  • 36% (8) - Not a policy, but I'd seriously consider doing it.
  • 9% (2) - Not a policy but I most likely wouldn't do it.
  • 0% (0) - No, as a matter of policy.

Several repondents posted the following  comments. (All commenters identified themselves by name in the poll, but I'll keep their identities anonymous here, just in case.)

  • I coordinate development of the DCC's DMP Online data management planning tool. One of the functions we are adding for v3.0 (which is set to launch this Spring) is a facility to share read/write permissions with other users. We'll be very interested in seeing how popular this proves, as it will enable more collaborative development of DMPs by the researchers AND the research support staff, data librarians, IT people, etc who are also stakeholders in the data management endeavour.
  • We are on record as making the offer to help formulate and/or review DM plans. No written policy as yet, but it's something we're targetting as a service.
  • I've always offered this service in my dept. The LSE is currently looking at formalising a data management policy. One of the main aims of this is supporting researchers who need to make data available for reuse as part of their funding conditions. As part of this it is likely that some support for DMPs would be offered, but whether this would be generic, on-line tools, or one-to-one support has not been decided yet.
  • We offer this as an optional service had about 70 such reviews in our first year. We do have a caveat about the service on our website - see "limitations to services" on https://confluence.cornell.edu/display/rdmsgweb/About.
  • The review is optional, not mandatory, and offered as an advertised service.
  • I have read through a few plans when people have asked me to but I don't edit them and have commented when asked directly but have concerns about doing that. I usually state what I can and cannot give advice on and refer to appropriate office on campus when necessary (e.g., technology transfer for IP issues). Fortunately, most of the comments have had to do with where to put their data at the end (which I guess is more of a question on where to archive things rather than reviewing the plans). Typically I refer people back to sources and examples to help support writing their plans. I just find that when researchers ask me to look at their plans, most of the time they are really asking me questions about specific details with data management and not so much with editing the plan. If they did want me to edit it I would say no.

Many thanks to all of you who took the time to respond. I'm sure many will find this information useful.

Harrison Dekker, UC Berkeley Data Lab

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