Popular discussion topics for researchers

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The Digital Research Conversations (DRC) are a series of sessions where we encourage researchers from across the University of Birmingham to come together to discuss topics around data management. As we start planning the sixth DRC, I’ve been looking back at past DRC’s to assess the most popular topics and whether we could update on these. So far, we have held the following sessions to which we get on average 20 attendees from a range of disciplines (see pie chart):

1) Managing Data from Creation to Destruction

2) Data Security

3) Sharing Data

4) Making Sense of Data

5) Data Visualisation

Pie chart showing attendees per College to DRCs

The presentations for the first and fifth DRC have not been made available online but for the second DRC on Data Security, there have been 519 downloads of the presentation entitled ‘Electronic personal data’ delivered by Dr David Evans. This is clearly a very popular area and having a general topic rather than a very specific one certainly seems to help with increasing interest in your talk. The third DRC on sharing data has also proven popular with a total of 484 downloads between the four presentations available. It is clear researchers need more support with what they can and can’t share openly and how to do it, this is an area we are currently working on.

The next Digital Research Conversation aims to build on previous topics surrounding data online – how far do you trust data and data analysis? With data playing such a big role in areas such as how the economy is run, health care and climate change policies, we need to know that the data used to make crucial decisions regarding our future is correct. With the scandal in poor data analysis which provided evidence for taking austerity measures through to the recent debate about Python and its potential ‘bug’, what can we do to improve things? Is open data the solution? Should data analysis itself be more transparent, eg. using data science tools like Matlab rather than Excel? Is educating all researchers in data science the answer? Or could we use virtual machines where we can preserve the whole data processing environment to allow reproducibility testing?

Do get in touch if you are interested in speaking on this topic. You can email us at bearinfo@contacts.bham.ac.uk

Further Information

University of Birmingham researchers can sign up to our Digital Research Conversations Canvas course to find slides and summaries of our series of DRC events: https://canvas.bham.ac.uk/enroll/Y7C7LY