On October 7, 2019, the Research Data Management Librarian Academy (RDMLA) was launched. To explore the Academy and to discuss its expected value to the community, Chef Todd Carpenter worked with Rong Tang (Simmons University), Elaine Martin (Harvard Medical School), Zhan Hu (Simmons University) and Jean Shipman (Elsevier) on this interview discussing the Reseach Data Management Librarian Academy (RDMLA) and its goals.
What is the RDMLA?
The Research Data Management Librarian Academy is a free online research data management (RDM) professional skill development program for librarians, information professionals, researchers, and other professionals who work in a research-intensive environment throughout the world.
RDMLA is the result of a unique and successful partnership between an Library and Information Science (LIS) academic program, academic health sciences and research libraries, and Elsevier.
What value does the RDMLA provide?
RDMLA is a community-built learning curriculum that addresses the gap experienced by practicing professionals who wish to learn key aspects of providing RDM services in libraries or other information settings. The RDMLA was developed based on evidence obtained through a global-wide needs assessment survey of LIS professionals and a large-scale competency scan. Identified training gaps are addressed with the RDMLA curriculum.
Why did you decide to launch the RDMLA?
In our ongoing conversations with partner institutions, we discovered that similar challenges were experienced in terms of launching data services in libraries. The current librarian workforce is generally not well-equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to navigate the research culture within their institutions in order to be a viable partner with research data services.
Driven by the motivation of providing a free and structured learning platform, it is our hope that the RDMLA will enable practicing librarians and other professionals to be successful and gain confidence in providing RDM services within their institutions.
What is the intended audience for this program?
The intended audience for the RDMLA includes librarians, information professionals, and other professionals who work in a research-intensive environment throughout the world.
The course is free, but there is also an accreditation process if people want it, how does that work? Do you need to decide in advance that you want to get CE credit or can you decide later?
RDMLA is free to any learner. If one wishes to obtain continuing education (CE) credit from Simmons University, they can take the overall assessment unit and pay a small fee to obtain the credit. A learner may decide to get the CE credit anytime they want; they do not need to decide in advance of taking the 8 RDMLA units. More details related to the CE component of the RDMLA will be forthcoming, with the CE option becoming available January, 2020.
I know that this is based on some research that you have done in the skills gaps for librarians, can you tell us a bit about how you arrived at the scope of this project?
With an initial recognition of the need for convenient and effective RDM training, we conducted a needs assessment and competency scan to identify any skill and knowledge gaps to form the basis of the RDMLA curriculum. The RDMLA curriculum resulted from this prior elaborate analysis and investigation. The RDMLA features 8 units covering topics such as the foundations of RDM, research culture, advocating and marketing for RDM services in libraries, project management, applicable software, overview of research data management platforms, and more. Instructors were selected for each unit, who worked together to outline the learning objectives for each unit. They were also responsible for providing content based on the learning objectives. Monthly meetings were held so each unit’s instructors could report on their progress and obtain feedback from the entire team.
Can others adapt and reuse the materials for their own purposes?
RDMLA is licensed as CC BY-NC-SA, which allows others to adapt and reuse the content for non-commercial purposes with attribution.
The faculty of this course are a diverse set of community leaders. How did you go about engaging the faculty for this project?
The faculty of this course are practicing U.S. librarians and LIS faculty members mostly from the greater Northeast representing a diverse set of institutions. The faculty have been working together to enhance data services in their institutions for a number of years. They are passionate about sharing their experiences and knowledge with regard to RDM services in libraries. This dedicated group of experts has contributed its experience and time to produce the RDMLA.
Speaking of diversity, do you plan for international or multi-lingual versions of the program?
We have had some interest expressed from international institutions to translate the RDMLA content into other languages. At this point, we are exploring how to partner with these institutions to create a multi-lingual version of the RDMLA.
How was the project funded?
Elsevier applauds the expertise librarians contribute with describing, organizing, and making content accessible, such as data, and encourages librarians to be part of their institutions’ research ecosystems. It is pleased to be the financial sponsor of this important educational program and appreciates the development team’s willingness to partner to create it.
There are a variety of resources to support research data management services. How is the RDMLA different from those other resources?
The RDMLA differs from other RDM service-learning programs in that it is completely online and can be taken at the learner’s convenience for no charge. It has been generated by practicing librarians who share their expertise with RDM with their peers. It addresses various aspects of RDM services in libraries such as how to effectively advocate for an RDM library service, and how to develop skills with different RDM software and tools. It also provides CE credit to those who wish to obtain such for a minimal fee from an accredited LIS university.
How do you envision these materials growing or being sustained over time? Are there plans to add additional modules?
A data fellow is being financially supported by Elsevier for the coming years to develop additional modules and to maintain existing content so the RDMLA remains relevant and useful.
If someone wants to get started, what do they need to do?
The RDMLA was launched on October 7, 2019. The RDMLA and accompanying background information is at https://rdmla.github.io/. Users can access the link to the RDMLA Canvas Course site, begin immediately to review the materials and start learning.