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The Research Data Management System: Made for and with researchers

Date:21 April 2020
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In December 2018, the Research Data Management System (RDMS), created on the basis of iRODS, was introduced during a Data Federation Hub (DFH) meet-up. iRODS stands for integrated Rule-Oriented Data System and is a technology for the management of research data. It seeks to offer a solution to the problems that researchers are facing in the area of managing research data. iRODS forms the basis of the RDMS that is being developed by the Center for Information Technology (CIT). Jelmer van den Buijs is the project leader of the RDMS. 

What is the Research Data Management System?

‘Researchers need integrated systems for the entire life cycle of research data, from the generation of data to publishing and archiving it. This new system makes this possible.

 Unfortunately, there is no RDMS on the market that can be directly implemented. Many universities are considering developing an RDMS or having one developed using the iRODS toolbox. This offers many advantages but it takes a while before you can have something like this built and implemented.’

 Who will be able to use it?

‘We are constructing the RDMS for UG and UMCG researchers. We intend to support the data management of both organizations within the system as much as possible.’

 What is unique about this project?

‘Not only are we building this RDMS for researchers but we are also building it with them. They are involved in all phases of the process, including testing components and offering use cases so that, at the end of the project, we will have an RDMS that will truly help researchers with their research data management.’  

Are there differences between UMCG and UG users?

‘The UMCG and the UG both have different policies and regulations. We are taking this into account when a user from the UMCG or from the UG is using the RDMS.’ 

Who else is working on this project?

‘We are working together with UG colleagues from the Research Data Office (RDO) and from the UMCG, among other departments. We consider it very important that the end product is demand-driven. That means, in practice, that we have involved researchers from the very early stages of the project and that they have been and are able to put their own significant stamp on the RDMS. After all, we are building it for them.’  

In which phase of the project are you now?

‘The project group has delivered the first prototype. The backside, or the so-called back-end, is ready. We are now working on developing the Graphic User Interface. Researchers must be able to see a user-friendly screen. We are also busy applying data management regulations and policies to the system. We are doing this in collaboration with researchers and other users.’

 Do you need people to try out the system?

‘The RDMS is being made for researchers and so it is essential that the system works in accordance with the needs of the end-users. Researchers and other users can currently contribute to the development of this system in three ways.  

  1. They can give feedback during the lunch workshop meetings that are being held periodically until 2021.
  2. We are also popping by their offices to discuss the workflow and to gain a picture of their needs and wishes.
  3. And we are going to work with a pilot use case during the rest of the project phase. Future users can work with that too. The principle underlying this is that early use of the system will lead to specific wishes and adjustments regarding its functionality.’  

What is the project’s timeframe?

‘Prototype release 1.1 is coming up in the third quarter of this year. For the end-user, this means the broadening of functionality, especially regarding the graphic user interface. During this development in 2020, various workshop sessions will be held. We intend to deliver the system in the first quarter of 2021.’  

Why this exact RDMS?

‘The management of research data is becoming more important. Topics such as integrity and the GDPR legislation mean that researchers have more of a need to use a Research Data Management System (RDMS). The currently-used storage solutions (X:/Y: disks, Unishare, Google Drive, NAS) are storage systems, not data management systems. Researchers need support in managing their data. In addition, data must be handled in accordance with the FAIR principles. FAIR stands for Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable data.’

 Where can I find more information about the RDMS?

‘Researchers and other users can register their interest to participate in the workshop sessions and pilot use cases by sending an email to rdms-support or via the project page:, you can also find the current release schedule.’