Academic libraries’ role in Research Data Management Services: a South African perspective

Keywords: Academic libraries, eResearch, eScience, research data management, South Africa


Research Data Management (RDM) services are being implemented by academic and research libraries globally in support of university research activities. In South Africa, some libraries are beginning to provide frameworks for these services with some degree of success as policies are being formulated, infrastructure set up, library staff trained, and awareness and advocacy campaigns held with academic staff and researchers. Challenges being faced include availability of resources and infrastructures and limited data management skills among library staff. This paper reports on how the Library at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology is developing and integrating RDM services into institutional research workflows. The paper includes issues that are driving e-research at the institution and how requirements of researchers in the field of biomedical research have been used in a pilot e-research project. The report also details how the university library is using these user requirements to develop tools such as data management plans, electronic laboratory journals and systems for integration with institutional research workflows. The paper further outlines how an international collaborative approach has assisted the Library to participate in the development of an open source platform for the management of the full research lifecycle in support of RDM. It concludes with how further skills development within the Library is being undertaken to support data services and some of the likely challenges for further development of the services. 


Cape Peninsula University of Technology. 2013. Research, Technology Innovation and Partnerships: ten year blueprint. [Online]. (5 November 2015).

Cape Peninsula University of Technology. 2015. Vision and Mission. [Online]. (5 November 2015).

Carlson, J.R. and Garritano, J.R. 2010. E-science, cyberinfrastructure and the changing face of scholarship: organizing for new models of research support at Purdue University Libraries. Libraries Research Publications, Paper 137. [Online]. (5 November 2015).

Chiware, E.R.T. 2015. Research Data Management Services at Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Proceedings of the COAR-SPARC Conference on Connecting Research Results, Bridging Communities and Open Scholarship. 15-16 April 2015. Porto, Portugal. [Online]. (3 November 2015).

Cox, A., Verbaan, E. and Sen, B. 2012. Upskilling liaison librarians for research data management. Ariadne, 70. [Online]. (2 November 2015).

Davidson, J., Jones, S., Molloy, L. and Kejser, U.B. 2014. Emerging good practice in managing research data and research information in UK Universities. Procedia Computer Science, 33: 215-222.

Digital Curation Centre. 2015. DCC Lifecycle Model. [Online]. (8 November 2015).

Higman, R. and Pinfield, S. 2015. Research data management and openness: the role of data sharing in developing institutional policies and practices. Program: electronic library and information systems, 49(4): 364-381.

Kahn, M., Higgs, R., Davidson, J., and Jones, S. 2014. Research data management in South Africa: how we shape up. Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 45(4): 296-308. DOI:10.1080/00048623.2014.951910.

Kruse, F. and Thestrup, J. B. 2014. Research libraries’ new role in research data management, current trends and visions in Denmark. LIBER Quarterly, 23(4): 310- 334.

Lewis, M. J. 2010. Libraries and the management of research data. In Envisioning future academic library services. S. McKnight, Ed. London: Facet. 145-168.

Macanda, M., Rammutloa, M. and Bezuidenhout, R. 2015. Research Data Management at UNISA. [Online]. (20 December 2015).

Mitscherling, C. 2014. Integrated communication and service infrastructure for libraries. Proceedings of the IATUL Conferences. 2- 5 June 2014. Aalto University, Espoo, Finland: Purdue. Paper 2. [Online] (5 November 2015).

National Research Foundation. 2015a. Databases. [Online]. (20 December 2015).

National Research Foundation. 2015b. Statement on Open Access to Research Publications from the National Research Foundation (NRF)-Funded Research. [Online]. (5 November 2015).

Pinfield, S., Cox, A.M. and Smith, J. 2014. Research data management and libraries: relationships, activities, drivers and influences. PLoS ONE, 9(12): e114734. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0114734.

Ray J. 2014. Introduction to research data management. In Research data management: practical strategies for information professionals. J. Ray, Ed. West Lafayette, IN: Purdue. 1- 23.

Tammaro, A.M. and Casarosa, V. 2014. Research data management in the curriculum: an interdisciplinary approach. Procedia Computer Science, 38: 138-142.

Tenopir, C., Birch, B. and Allard, S. 2012. Academic libraries and research data services: current practices and plans for the future: an ACRL white paper. Chicago: Association of College and Research Libraries. [Online]. (20 December 2015).

Tenopir, C., Sandusky, R.J., Allard, S. and Birch, B. 2012. Academic librarians and research data services: preparation and attitudes. IFLA Journal, 39(1): 70-78.

Tenopir, C., Sandusky, R.J, Allard, S. and Birch, B. 2014. Research data management services in academic libraries and perceptions of librarians. Library & Information Science Research, 36: 84-90.

Van Deventer, M. and Pienaar, H. 2015. Research data management in a developing country: a personal journey. International Journal of Digital Curation, 10(2): 33–47 [Online]. (20 December 2015) DOI: 10.2218/ijdc.v10i2.380.

Van Wyk, J. and Van der Walt, I. 2014. Going full circle: research data management @ University of Pretoria. Proceedings of the eResearch Africa Conference. 23-27 November 2014. University of Cape Town, Cape Town: eResearch Africa. [Online]. htp:// (20 December 2015).

Research Articles