Microlectures on ‘Research Data Management’: The Bachelor’s edition

Judith Brands is an Information Specialist for the Science and Technology Faculty and data steward at the University of Twente

This summer, she created a series of five microlectures for Bachelor’s degree students at the university to learn about the basics of research data management (RDM).

  1. How do I get your data?’ provides information about data storage, data access and sharing and personal data.
  2. How do I use your data?’ provides information about data documentation, data formats, filenames and directories. 
  3. How do I trust your data?’ provides information about data processing and version control.
  4. How do I build on your data?’ provides information about data repositories and archiving. 
  5. What am I allowed to do with your data?’ provides information about licenses and ethics.

Her microlectures are available on vimeo and the slides are available for download on Zenodo.

Why Bachelor’s students?

Judith shares her motivations for creating a microlecture series for Bachelor’s degree students. 

“All early career researchers should have the opportunity to learn about good RDM practice. Currently, most of the RDM learning materials are tailored towards educating PhD students, however, Bachelor’s students can also benefit from learning about how to appropriately handle personal data and back up their data to avoid losses.”

She adds that learning about good RDM practice isn’t just applicable to scientists but benefits students from all academic disciplines and even plays an important role throughout daily life.

“Whether students pursue a career in academia or move to industry after their studies, they will surely have to manage information and even personal data at some point in their careers. It’s therefore important they gain the relevant skills and knowledge to help them succeed.”

Judith explains that driving the culture change toward FAIR data and Open Science starts with teaching the next generation of professionals.  

“Educating students about how to manage their data at the beginning of their career means that they become aware of what can go wrong and learn how to avoid RDM problems early on.”

Starting from scratch

As there were no RDM learning materials available for Bachelor’s students at the University, Judith began by creating full-length lectures that were later transformed into five minute microlectures.

“First, I decided on the lecture material content and format by making a lesson plan with some reference slides as if the lectures would be delivered as part of an in-person course,” says Judith. 

“The next step was to condense the information into a series of short and engaging microlectures that are informative and fun at the same time.”

She adds that the most difficult part was selecting the most important information to present in the microlectures. 

“There’s an abundance of information available about RDM which can be overwhelming for students. Therefore, I focussed on five key questions which formed the basis of the microlecture series, and sorted and grouped information according to these topics,” she says.

After creating the microlecture presentation slides in PowerPoint, Judith wrote a script which was checked by the University of Twente’s data stewards; Marianna Avetisyan, Simone Fricke, Zafer Özturk and Qian Zhang.

Getting creative with characters

Once the script was finalised, she recorded the audio voiceover using Adobe. Next, the slides were converted to images and used as the background for the microlecture recording using the Adobe Character Animator.

“I wanted to include a dynamic element to the microlectures so they’re more than just a slide deck and my voice,” says Judith.

“The dynamic character animator narrates each microlecture which I believe helps to captivate the audience and tell the story.”

The final step was the addition of subtitles to each recording using Vimeo.

The entire process, from the inception of the idea to recording the final product, took Judith around two weeks to complete. Her previous experience of creating microlectures on ‘information literacy’ helped her create professional microlectures that are clear, concise, and easy to follow in a short space of time. 

“This was such a fun project that really allowed me to harness my creativity over the summer. Due to the lack of training material for Bachelor’s students, I was starting with a ‘blank canvas’ with no limitations,” she adds.

The roll out

Currently, Research Support Coordinators are liaising with University faculty and programme directors to determine how and when to introduce the microlecture series in Bachelor’s degree programmes in order to best complement their various modules and topics. 

Judith emphasises the importance of feedback during the roll out process.

“I’m very curious to learn what students and other data support professionals think about these microlectures. I’m exploring ways to collect feedback from students,” she says. 

She also remarks that these training materials are a work in progress that will require regular updates as the RDM landscape evolves and University policies change. 

“Not only will we revise these microlectures to ensure they’re up-to-date, but we’ll add new ones to the mix about different research topics of interest as they arise. What’s more, since we now have a lesson plan and reference slides for full lectures, it will be good to provide in-person education for Bachelor’s students in the future.”- Watch this space! 

With this in mind, Judith is already collaborating with her colleague, Zafer, to produce their next microlecture on ‘FAIR data’!

For more information, to provide your feedback, or to learn how you can adapt and reuse this microlecture series, please feel free to contact Judith

Written by Connie Clare (4TU.ResearchData)
Edited by Judith Brands (University of Twente)

Cover image by Gillian Callison from Pixabay 

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