Testing GHGs. Photos: G. Smith (CIAT).

Every once in a while everybody needs a helping hand, and this is no different when it comes to researchers and data management.

Data management can be a challenging and sometimes overlooked aspect of a research project. This is especially true since busy researchers are now continually being tasked with research management, funder reporting and other additional tasks, in addition to being expected to carry out life-changing research.

Data management for agricultural research can be particularly challenging—just ask any early career researchers who are new to the peculiarities of data management in agricultural research institutions.

But when done properly, research data management is highly valuable. Its utility for saving on costs and improving research efficiency is quite obvious, but its other benefits, such as improving quality, safety, transparency, reproducibility, discovery and access, should not be forgotten either[i].

The data management teams of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) are continually thinking about how to support researchers throughout the research life cycle. They teamed up with Statistics for Sustainable Development (Stats4SD) to update the CCAFS Data Management Support Pack (DMSP). The original CCAFS DMSP had served researchers well for the last four years. However, the CCAFS and CIAT teams decided to work together to upgrade it to be more in line with the current open data and research data landscape, drawing on the work of other CGIAR initiatives like the Platform on Big Data in Agriculture.

The CIAT-CCAFS Data Management Support Pack

The new CIAT-CCAFS DMSP, available from both the CCAFS and CIAT websites, has simplified the process of identifying guiding documents to 3 straightforward steps. The process allows users to discover documents relevant to the specific user and the stage of the research lifecycle.

What is it? The DMSP consists of documents, templates, and videos covering the different aspects of data management, ranging from overarching concepts and strategies to day-to-day activities. The DMSP further groups this content into eight categories to assist researchers to find the specific documents best suited to their needs.

Who is it for? The pack aims to allow the user to quickly cut to the chase in finding relevant documents and starts by identifying the user’s role in the research project.

When and where should it be used? Depending on the status of the research project, users need to carry out different types of data management activities. In an information-rich world, the DMSP strives to offer only the documents that would be relevant to a researcher. This context is especially helpful for researchers who are now required to ensure that their research is entirely compliant with the CGIAR Open Access and Data Management Policy that will come into full effect by the end of 2018 and that requires data governance documents, such as data management and sharing plans, for each project.

The DMSP is envisioned as a living document platform where the CIAT and CCAFS data management teams will continuously update and add new documents based on researchers’ feedback and needs.  The DMSP aims to be researchers’ personalized, but sadly not yet intelligent, assistant.

Authors of this post:

Leroy Mwanzia

Leroy Mwanzia

Chief Data Officer at International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)

David Abreu

David Abreu

Knowledge and Data Sharing Coordinator, CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)

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[i] Corti, L., Van den Eynden, V., Bishop, L. and Woollard, M., 2014. Managing and sharing research data: a guide to good practice. Sage.

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