Data stewardship initiative supports research community

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Greater accessibility and transparency of research data can increase public trust and accelerate innovation, leading to advancements in areas ranging from driverless vehicle technology to disease diagnoses and prevention.

As data-sharing practices become more prominent, many federal agencies and scholarly journals are increasing expectations around the management of research data, requiring robust plans to make data publicly available.

To ensure researchers across the University of Michigan are better positioned to equitably and securely share their research data, the Office of the Vice President for Research is launching a Research Data Stewardship Initiative.

As a first step to help teams navigate data needs throughout the research data lifecycle, OVPR has established a working group composed of representatives from U-M support units and a faculty advisory committee to launch a new online portal that aggregates universitywide resources and guidance.

The resources will help researchers identify options for archiving and sharing data based on their disciplines and the types of data they generate, while also providing tools to navigate new federal requirements when preparing grant proposals.

Other goals of the initiative include assessing and developing U-M policies related to research data, establishing a working group to coordinate training and educational materials for the research community, and identifying unmet data stewardship needs by engaging directly with faculty and research teams.

“By equitably and securely sharing research data, teams are able to foster collaboration far beyond our campus walls, and those relationships often lead to new knowledge and novel solutions that address key societal challenges,” said Rebecca Cunningham, vice president for research and the William G. Barsan Collegiate Professor of Emergency Medicine.

“The university has incredible data resources and services across its three campuses, and so this new initiative directs researchers to those existing tools, while also coordinating additional guidance from many support units across U-M that are geared toward specific disciplinary needs.”

As more federal agencies update and implement new data policies, the result will be more organization-specific guidelines and training. The most pressing example of this is the updated Data Management and Sharing Policy from the National Institutes of Health, which takes effect Jan. 1, 2023.

“We know that helping researchers share their data serves our broader mission as a public research university and ensures U-M research has broad public impact,” said Nick Wigginton, assistant vice president for research-strategic initiatives, who is leading the Research Data Stewardship Initiative.

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