Research Data and GDPR Propagates Stimulating and Enlightening Discussions

Dr Holly Ranger, Research Librarian (Research Data Management), University of Nottingham

Changes to data protection legislation presents challenges and opportunities for research data management staff, underlining the importance of community experience sharing, an event explored.

On 25 April the Mercian Collaboration Research Data Management Support Group (RDMSG) ran an excellent, timely and stimulating event focussing on Research Data and GDPR. Hosted by University of Nottingham Libraries, the workshop brought together a diverse range of people including research data managers, librarians, research data support staff, and academic researchers. Essentially, anyone who supports work with or wanted to find out more about research data management (RDM), and how it would be impacted by the rapidly approaching new General Data Protection Regulation at their institutions was invited to attend.

The day kicked off with an introduction by Ben Veasey, Senior Research Librarian (Research Data Management) at Nottingham, who set the context for the day through sharing some reflections on his experiences rolling out GDPR training at the institution. Ben used an annotated Participant Information Sheet, or Privacy Notice, to demonstrate how new participant documentation must reflect GDPR’s demands for gaining ‘positive opt in’ consent for the use of their personal data.

Next, the keynote speaker, Dr Scott Summers from the UK Data Archive, provided a detailed overview of the legal implications of the GDPR as it relates to research and research data. Scott shared his thoughts on GDPR exemptions (or derogations, to give them their correct legal name), before exploring how different UK Higher Education institutions might choose to prove the legal basis for their research endeavours which made a use of participants personal data.

Following Scott, Dr Gareth Cole, Research Data Manager at Loughborough University, talked the audience through a GDPR training course he’d developed for academic staff and postgraduate researchers. Gareth then led some interactive anonymization exercises, highlighting some of the perils and considerations with respect to anonymising images and qualitative data.

In the day’s final last session, Dr Heather Lawler, Research Data Officer at the University of Warwick shared her work on engaging stakeholders, and approaches for embedding RDM and GDPR into existing workflows at her institution.

The day provided an excellent opportunity for delegates to pool expertise and troubleshoot research data scenarios. With plenty of time provided for networking over coffee and lunch, and the diverse audience of library and non-library staff, a rich, stimulating and collaborative atmosphere permeated throughout. Consequently, the event ended with delegates sharing suggestions for ways to continue collaborating and sharing knowledge through video-conferencing and mailing lists, with the intention of keeping the momentum and experience exchange instigated from the days’ discussions going.

More information about the Mercian RDMSG and their activities, including their discussion list, is available.

Linked event: