Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives



CESSDA asks ten questions to Helene N. Andreassen

Helene N. Andreassen is group leader for teaching and learning support at the University library at UiT The Arctic University of Norway. Her office is located in Tromsø.

Helene specialises in linguistics and the Romance languages, having focused in her PhD on French phonology. She is also responsible for the institutional research data management training programme, and co-chair of the RDA Linguistics Data Interest Group.

CESSDA asked Helene N. Andreassen to answer a few questions.

  1. Have you lived your whole life up here in the north of Norway? How do you handle the long nights in the winter and the long summer days?

    I grew up not far from Tromsø, and except for shorter stays in France, Switzerland and Oslo, I have always lived here in the North. I love the region and the changing seasons, and I think the best way to handle the polar night and the midnight sun is to stay outside and appreciate nature.

  2. What led you to start working at the UiT library?

    More or less by coincidence, actually. I was writing my PhD thesis and didn’t have any more funding and needed to look for a job. The UiT library had an opening position as subject specialist in Linguistics and Romance languages, and I was lucky to get it!

  3. When did you decide to focus your attention on research data management?

    I am a trained linguist, and have done several data collections in my own research projects. In 2013, I was invited to participate in the working group developing the Tromsø Repository of Language and Linguistics (TROLLing), which was the first archival solution for open data created at UiT. The project had a twofold objective: develop an internationally available service for researchers of linguistics, and test the Dataverse platform for the future institutional archive (UiT Open Research Data). From that moment on, developing support services for research data management was part of my work.

  4. How do you engage researchers and help them realise the importance of Data Management Plans?

    We try to reach and engage researchers in many different ways. Practically, we try to reach them e.g. via open course offerings, meetings with project leaders/heads of department/vice deans, accidental meetings, emails, and social media. We also give a course with ECTS credits on doctoral level, where research data management is one important component.

    When it comes to actually engaging them in research data management and the importance of Data Management Plans, we try to motivate them by focusing on how they can benefit from having good routines, and how it might contribute to improve their research. We offer guidance when they plan to write a DMP and enter into a dialogue with them when they want to deposit data.

    We hope that allowing researchers to combine theory and best practices with discipline-specific knowledge will make it easier for them to see the relevance for their own research. Furthermore, doing most of the thinking and practical work themselves hopefully leads to a feeling of mastery, which in turn might encourage deeper engagement. We also underline the increasing requirements and expectations regarding transparency from journals, funders, and institutions, and how a DMP (and quality-assured archiving) might help them meet these.

  5. What is the role of university libraries in helping researchers make their data FAIR?

    Not all libraries are in a position to develop institutional repositories and offer full-scale curation services, but everybody is in principle capable of offering some level of support services to researchers to help them make their data FAIR. If resources are scarce, libraries could read up on basic RDM and direct their researchers to good training resources online. Libraries with moderate resources could specialise in certain areas and offer courses, help researchers find suitable archives, and guide them in the development of DMPs. If resources are available, libraries could also engage in dataset curation.

    In all cases, I think libraries should enter into a dialogue with other relevant entities at the institution, e.g. the IT department and the research administration, and of course specialised RDM units if these exist. Finally, it is always useful to have contact with other libraries in the country, to share experiences and help each other get better.

  6. You manage iKomp, an open and free web resource for information literacy. What is the added value of this service for researchers and students?

    We developed iKomp with a threefold purpose: to offer an introduction to information literacy to those who are not on campus, to facilitate flipped classroom teaching (by taking some of the teacher-led delivery of instruction out of the classroom and getting more time for activities and discussion), and to offer a work of reference to students when they write academic texts.

    IKomp is suitable as an obligatory assignment, and we see that gradually, more and more departments incorporate it into their first-year study programmes. Hopefully, this provides a good basis for first-year students, but it is still too early to see whether it has any long-term, solid effect. Another benefit of developing iKomp is that we have had to think hard about what we consider to be the most important aspects of information literacy, and the optimal way of teaching it to UiT students during their studies.

  7. What has been your role in the RDA Linguistics Data Interest Group?

    I am one of three co-chairs (with Andrea Berez-Kroeker, U. of Hawai’i at Mānoa, and Lauren Gawne, La Trobe U.), and together we are responsible for reaching the objectives and outcomes presented in the group’s charter statement. Until now, we have primarily focused on developing principles and guidelines for citing linguistic research data, which has been done in collaboration with other members of the LDIG community. Also, we regularly host working sessions at the RDA plenary meetings, and we do outreach in the linguistic community, to make our work visible and encourage people to participate.

  8. What would be the most important next step in your view towards achieving open research data?

    Getting RDM into the doctoral programmes and into supervisor guidelines. Today’s PhD students are the future teachers and researchers, and by getting them on board, we can more easily achieve a change in culture. In addition, I hope that, e.g. with institutions signing the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA), datasets will be more valued as scholarly outputs in evaluation processes.

  9. Can our CESSDA Data Management Expert Guide be useful as a resource in your job?

    I am convinced it will! I haven’t had that much time to look at it in detail yet, but we will definitely make use of it when we dedicate time later this autumn to further develop the content and material used in our teaching. Good, quality-assured online resources are highly welcome!

  10. If you were the rector of your university for one day, what would you do?

    I would focus on getting on the agenda the importance of raising awareness of RDM and developing good routines (under guidance) as a part of doctoral education. To make the relevant parties, i.e. PhD students and supervisors, engaged, I would talk to them and invite them to discuss why and how this can be achieved.

  11. You mentioned TROLLing in your presentation to CESSDA in June in Tromsø, what does this refer to? Please explain.

    The Tromsø Repository of Language and Linguistics (TROLLing) is a domain-specific archive for open linguistic data and statistical code. It is available to researchers worldwide, meaning that everyone can deposit their data, and everyone can download and reuse data that have been published. It is placed on the Dataverse Platform, which facilitates visibility, retrievability and reuse of the data. Most datasets presently published in the archive are replication data for journal publications, i.e. datasets that allow replication of the published studies, but other datasets are welcome, too.


More information:

UiT The Arctic University of Norway

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