Daniel Saakes and Sebastiaan Thiede of the Faculty of Engineering & Technology were awarded funding from the Dutch Research Council (NWO) Smart Industry programme. This meant they had to submit a data management plan (DMP) to NWO four months after receiving the funding. ‘That was quite a task, and FAIR Data Steward Zafer Öztürk provided us with very effective help along the way,’ says Saakes. So, what needs to be included in a DMP for NWO, and how did Öztürk help?
Before Saakes started his new role as associate professor of Interaction Design at UT in 2021, he spent seven years working at the South Korean university KAIST. Thinking about managing research data was quite new to him, he says. ‘I had to get up to speed in a brief time. It was very nice to be able to ask the university’s FAIR Data Steward of the DCC (Digital Competence Centre), Zafer Öztürk, for advice on complex matters. He responded very quickly each time, gave excellent advice and thought along with us about the extent to which the GPDR applied to our research project.’
Video recordings of subjects in labs
Saakes specialises in interactive ergonomic design and in recent years has mainly been researching ‘how to get people to design things themselves’. For example, he works on office and home office furniture that automatically adapts to the size of the person and the task that the person is going to perform. ‘We design equipment that tries to make you sit and stand better at your desk,’ he explains. ‘The monitor and desk adapt to what you do. For this, we are conducting exploratory research in a lab, which involves making videos of test subjects.’
One of the core areas of the NWO Smart Industry programme is ‘Well-being’, says Saakes. ‘For the application, we joined forces with Sebastiaan Thiede, professor of Manufacturing Systems at UT. He specialises in designing factories. In this project, we combine our specialisations. We are going to try to apply the interactive ergonomic design that I apply to furniture in factories. A lot of things still take place manually in factories, such as assembly work. We want to create smart workstations that measure how people feel and then adapt accordingly. For example, a device that adapts when people get tired during a working day or that responds to the diversity and work capacity of young and old people in the workplace.’
Data management plan requirements for NWO
‘In the data management plan, NWO wants to read which data you will be generating or collecting during the project’, explains Saakes, ‘as well as how you will securely store these data during and after the study and make them FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Re-usable). We came up with a rough outline for our data management plan in UT's DMP tool, and Öztürk reviewed our DMP concept. For example, he drew our attention to the fact that all software tools, including tools for transcription, that we want to use must also be GPDR compliant and must therefore come from EU suppliers.’
Anonymising privacy-sensitive video data
Both NWO and Saakes and Thiede want to make the research data from their project openly available to the public, emphasises Saakes. ‘We wish to share our data with researchers for reuse and validation. To collect data, we spend about twice times a year one week making video recordings of people who work at the factory. Our data hold privacy sensitive information that needs to be protected from third-party access. We do not want it to be possible to determine the identity of the people we filmed. We also measure things such as their heart rate, how they move, how long they work and how effective they are. We talked a lot with Öztürk about the best way to do this. And we chose to pseudonymise and anonymise the data before saving them. We anonymise the video images by turning them into an animated video with digital models using ‘motion capture.’ We store the original anonymised files directly in the UT's long-term archive Areda.’
‘For the research itself, we store the data on UT's N drive. Because filming for a week yields a huge amount of data, we compress the data first. And because it isn’t possible to work with version control on the N disk, we store other types of data in the UT Git Lab. This way, we can be sure that no data can be lost, and it means that different people can work with the software and documents at the same time.’
Durable and interoperable file formats
In order to comply with ‘FAIR’, the data must remain accessible in the distant future. Saakes and Thiede therefore had to demonstrate in their project’s DMP that they will be working with durable and interoperable file formats. ‘We had to indicate very specifically which formats we were going to use for video and CAD (Computer Aided Design). That meant a lot of research. For example, certain video formats were recommended on the 4TU.Researchdata website, whereas DANS recommended other formats. Öztürk helped us a lot with this.’
Saakes experienced the preparation of the DMP and Öztürk’s support as ‘very positive’, he says. ‘We received excellent advice from an experienced person. I really learned a lot about how to manage data and how to work together in a multidisciplinary research group. Preparing the DMP also made us think carefully in advance about how we were going to work together. Because we come from different disciplines, this can sometimes be quite complicated. The DMP is a living document, so we will now try out the method we have come up with and adjust it if necessary.’
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