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DATUM: Research data management

Two research projects – DATUM for Health (2010-11) and DATUM in Action (2011-12) - supported research data management (RDM). Both were collaborations between staff in information sciences, health studies and mathematics along with leading external organisations – the DCC and DPC.

DATUM for Health provided RDM training in health studies whilst DATUM in Action supported research staff on an EU project to plan and implement RDM. The projects were funded by JISC under their Managing Research Data Programme. and  

DATUM for Health promoted RDM skills of postgraduate research students in health studies through a specially developed training programme, focusing on qualitative unstructured research data. The project designed and piloted the training as an integral part of a doctoral training programme and evaluated its usefulness and effectiveness, in order to provide other Higher Education Institutions with a model for RDM skills training. It also made recommendations for sustainable RDM training and associated infrastructure requirements. 

DATUM in Action supported research staff to plan and implement RDM for a collaborative EU Marie Curie project that aimed to develop mathematical and computer models of ageing processes, that could be implemented in technological solutions (e.g. monitors, telecare, recreational games) for improving and enhancing quality of life. An action research approach was adopted comprising a requirements analysis, a data management plan (DMP), an initial implementation of the DMP using in-house infrastructure with an information architecture, templates, protocols, guidance etc. A prototype collaborative software environment was also developed and assessed.

Project Beneficiaries

The immediate beneficiaries of DATUM for Health were postgraduate research students in the health studies discipline at Northumbria University. However, the training programme was deliberately designed to be transferable to wider research communities; other disciplines that produce qualitative, unstructured research data; different audiences (e.g. academic and research staff); and different contexts (e.g. Masters, continuing professional development and induction programmes). The immediate beneficiaries of DATUM in Action were the project team members with the longer term beneficiaries being their future collaborators and the wider research community needing to plan and implement effective RDM.

DATUM for Health is known to have had international reach and positive impact; e.g. it “had a successful and measurable impact on our students’ successful grades/marks” at Simmons College, USA ( and has been used in the development of a data literacy programme for library liaison staff at the University of Otago, New Zealand.

Project Teams

PI: Professor Julie McLeod, iSchool, Dept. Computer & Information Sciences, Northumbria University. 

Sue Childs, Dr Elizabeth Lomas (Research staff, Northumbria University)


DATUM for Health:

Professor Charlotte Clarke, Faculty of Health and Life Sciences (now University of Edinburgh) 

Professor John Dean, The Graduate School, Northumbria University

Dr Kevin Ashley, Director, Digital Curation Centre 

Dr William Kilbride, Executive Director, Digital Preservation Coalition 


DATUM in Action

Prof Maia Angelova (Mathematics) & Dr Jeremy Ellman (Computer Science)

Prof Glenda Cook & Prof Tony Hildreth (Health and Life Sciences)



Training Materials

The DATUM for Health training programme covers both generic and discipline-specific issues, focusing on the management of qualitative, unstructured data, and is suitable for students at any stage of their PhD. It aims to provide students with the knowledge to manage their research data at every stage in the data lifecycle, from creation to final storage or destruction. They learn how to use their data more effectively and efficiently, how to store and destroy it securely, and how to make it available to a wider audience to increase its use, value and impact.

The programme comprises:

  • Overview: programme aims and scope, design, outline content and materials, recommendations
  • Session 1: Introduction to research data management (URL
  • Session 2: Data curation lifecycle
  • Session 3: Problems and practical strategies and solutions

For each session the materials comprise PPT slides, notes for tutors and handouts. All of these materials are available at here 

  • Session 4 (Data For Life - Digital Preservation for Health Sciences) was a unique ‘roadshow’ event organised in collaboration with the Digital Preservation Coalition (DPC) on digital preservation within the context of health. The morning focused on an introduction to digital preservation issues and approaches plus case studies and the afternoon considered strategic issues of managing research data and further case studies. Presentations are available from the DPC website



Reports and Publications

DATUM for Health

  • Book chapter: 

McLeod, J., Childs, S. and Lomas, E. (2013) Chapter 6. Research data management. In: Pickard, A.J. Research methods in information. 2nd ed. Facet Publishing, pp. 71-86.

Practical exercises to support this chapter are available here.


  • Childs S, Mcleod J, Lomas E & Cook G. (2014). Opening research data: issues and opportunities. Special Issue of Records Management Journal on Big data, open data, V24 (2), pp.142-162
  • Final project report
  • Customised Google search engine providing access to literature covering best practice guidelines and RDM requirements with a particular focus on qualitative, unstructured data; similar guidelines specifically for the health studies discipline; training/learning delivery models and training materials. Note: this has not been added to since the project ended.


DATUM in Action

  • Final project report
  • Project documents to support RDM including: a data requirements questionnaire; DMP template with guidance; example of a completed DMP (for the DATUM in Action project itself); RDM roles and responsibilities; folder structure and file name guidance; metadata and information security guidance
  • Project Blog  

All outputs from both projects are freely available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.



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