“Data Something”: Assessing Tools, Services and Barriers for Research Data Collaboration at the University of Edinburgh [Report]
We carried out a small-scale study in order to gain a better understanding of the tools researchers use to collaborate around data, and to explore the barriers and difficulties that prevent researchers from using institutional tools and services. Six semi-structured interviews were conducted with researchers from the University of Edinburgh, representing different schools, and all of whom collaborate with other researchers on a regular basis on either small- or large-scale projects.We found that participants use many different tools, both institutional and commercial, to collaborate, share, analyse and transfer documents and data files. Decisions about which tools to use are based on data types, data size, usability, network effect and whether their collaborators are in the same institution and country. Researchers tend to use institutional tools only if they are very simple and user friendly, if there is a special requirement for this from funders or principal investigators (PIs), or if it is directly beneficial for them from a data analysis perspective. Sharing beyond the immediate collaboration is only a secondary concern. A major issue was the need for tools that answer projects’ particular needs. Researchers are generally well aware of the need to keep their data where it will be safe and backed-up, and are not concerned about the risk of data loss.