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Chock-a-Block Full – Learning from the NYUHSL Research Data Management Team!

Posted by on April 25th, 2019 Posted in: Advocacy, Data, Funding, Training

by Andrea Lynch, MLIS
Scholarly Communication Librarian
City of Hope Lee Graff Medical & Scientific Library
Duarte, CA

The announcement about the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NNLM) Training Office Data Management Professional Development funding opportunity was in my email inbox. I wasn’t going to apply initially, but was reminded via email about this opportunity by Alan Carr, associate director of the NNLM PSR Network office, and thought I should apply. I reached out to Dr. Alisa Surkis and Kevin Read to see if a visit to New York University (NYU) was possible. Given the highlights at the 2018 NNLM Research Data Management (RDM) Course Capstone Summit of the New York University Langone Health’s Research Data Management Training for Information Professionals, I knew spending time with the dynamic duo would be impactful. Good news for me, I wasn’t alone since there were three other librarians who were already working on and planning with Alisa and Kevin for a research data management intensive couple of days in late March (Jennifer Chaput of University of Connecticut, Sheila Green of Texas A&M University, and Kathryn Anne Vela of Washington State University). And then, the NYU RDM gurus shared with the librarian group that a research reproducibility symposium at Columbia University was happening the Friday after our potential two-day NYU visit. I applied for the NNLM Training Office professional development opportunity and was lucky enough to be one of the awardees, leading to three full and wonderful days with the NYU Health Sciences Library RDM experts!

Alisa and Kevin planned two days of activities and meetings at NYU (March 27-28, 2019). The agenda was a well planned collection of experiences in order for us to be fully immersed in their environment and to get a sense of their RDM outreach, consultation, and educational program. Our first day set the tone for the visit. Jeff Williams, director of the NYU Health Sciences Library, provided the context and some history so that we could see how their RDM activities fit into the larger library and overall institutional efforts. Jumping right into the overview and history of how RDM started at the NYU Health Sciences Library, Alisa and Kevin, along with Fred LaPolla and Nicole Contaxis, shared their successes and lessons learned along their RDM journey. Next on the first day’s schedule was an overview of their data catalog project and how they are collaborating with eight other institutions to implement their open source system. The data visualization program was highlighted by Fred LaPolla, with more to come the second day seeing him in action. Then we were off to Kevin’s RDM class with NYU basic sciences graduate students. The class was a wonderful recap of the concepts presented during the NNLM RDM 101 course, and ended with an alien brain scan data scenario that got the students excited about winning a very special tool.

The second day began with Fred’s Microsoft Excel and data visualization class. I learned something new about Excel, Sparklines. Fred provided a great example of a clear and concise teaching approach with tips and tricks for thinking of Excel in a new way. We were then treated to lunch by Jeff Williams (Thank you, Jeff!). Next, we enjoyed a walking tour of NYC with a brief stop at the best little store with just about every hot sauce, spice, and tea option available! The last stop was at NYU’s main campus to hear highlights from two members of the NYU RDM team; Scott Collard and Vicky Steeves. Three things that stayed with me from that afternoon:

  1. They organize their classes along the research cycle. Great idea!
  2. Responsible conduct of research requirement is tied to the library.
  3. They hire graduate students to provide RDM assistance and teach classes.

The third day, March 29th, we attended the all-day A University Symposium: Promoting Credibility, Reproducibility, and Integrity in Research at Columbia University and co-sponsored by a number of institutions, including NYU. Attending this symposium was a perfect way to spend the third RDM learning day in NYC. Hearing the initiatives and efforts focused on research reproducibility and transparency-related tenure and promotion practices gave me additional reasons why libraries and librarians should be engaged in RDM initiatives. It is about education, advocacy, and collaboration. The symposium session that really got me going, and started off the day, was the keynote about implicit and perception bias by Dr. Brian Nosek, professor at the University of Virginia. Check out this one-hour video covering some of the keynote content, presented by Dr. Nosek at the University of California, San Diego.

What hosts the NYU Health Sciences Library RDM team members are! The visit was the ideal mix of seriousness and fun, and broke down the barriers of starting and maintaining a RDM program. Below are just a few of the gold nuggets from my time with the NYUHSL RDM team. These tidbits are paraphrased and some are combined statements from multiple NYUHSL RDM team members; Alisa, Kevin, Fred, and Nicole.

  • Find the research data pain points and turn them into use cases in the educational and outreach threads of your RDM program.
  • Collaboration is key. RDM lynchpins and champions are critical.
  • The gems are the people who show up for classes and share their experiences and can connect you with others for assistance or additional learning.
  • It takes time and presence to build up these programs.
  • Do something…get started!
  • Get the word out…and be relentless.
  • Obtain stories about impact; then share those stories.
  • “You asked me to!” This is the reason people were contributing to our data catalog.
  • Start with what you have. Have PRISM or Excel? Start there. Offer a class!

I hope my next guest blog post on Latitudes will be an overview of our library’s initial educational and service RDM offerings, assessment of our inaugural RDM program, and next steps for future activities. It won’t be for a while, but it will happen…because I will do something with all I’ve learned and will get started with RDM at my library. Thanks again to NNLM NTO for this opportunity and to the awesome team at NYUHSL for sharing so much!

Image of the author ABOUT Alan Carr
Alan Carr is the Associate Director, National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Pacific Southwest Region, based at UCLA.

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This project is funded by the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under Cooperative Agreement Number UG4LM012341 with the UCLA Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library.

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