Pandemic Publication Panic – what to do when you need to publish your data from home

Tl;dr – If you don’t have time to read the full post, here are three things you can do now which will speed up the process. This shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes to set up, and will probably take a lot less. (If you’re a PI and don’t already have an RDSF account, you’ll need to do that first.)

  1. If you’re a Data Steward of a project with multiple users, nominate Deputy Data Stewards so you can delegate some of the duties (creating a record, associating data, tidying up files). You can have two deputies, and ACRC can do this for you
  2. Install and set up the University’s VPN so you can access the network securely via Single Sign-On.
  3. Map your project as a drive on your computer, so you can see all of your folders and files. Here’s how to do it on a Windows machine.

That’s it. If you want to know why you need to do this, read on!

Data Security Breach‘Help! We’re mid-pandemic, I’m at home, and I need to publish my data! I need a DOI for a paper!’  We’ve heard this a lot over the past few months, and there are some issues which keep cropping up. So, we thought we’d take a moment to give you a rough guide on what to do when you have PPP (Pandemic Publication Panic).

As with so much else this year, COVID-19 has brought a huge change in working practices. From March 2020, the majority of research has been carried out at home. Research and professional services staff are all working from home where possible, and only on-campus when necessary.

For researchers, it affects the way you work with and store data, which in turn affects your workflow for publishing and sharing data.

To publish data in the repository, data first needs to be in the Research Data Storage Facility (RDSF), so we can copy it across. But how do you get it in there if you are working remotely?

Hang on – RDSF v data.bris repository – what’s the difference?

DataThe Research Data Storage Facility (RDSF) is where you STORE data. The Research Data Repository (data.bris) is where you SHARE data.

The RDSF is a secure, private, University storage facility, designed specifically for research data. It’s so secure and private, users can only access it through the University’s network. You can store sensitive data there, but it needs to be encrypted first. Advanced Computing Research Centre manage the, AKA the Research Data Repository, is a public gateway to research data, with citeable, Google-indexed Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) for datasets. Data are shared to data.bris staff and we check and publish the dataset with a publicly accessible dataset record –  data are either available on demand as Open Data or after an agreement has been signed if there are access restrictions. The Research Data Service (that’s us) manages data.bris.

So, once you’ve decided what you want to share, you put it in a designated folder in your RDSF project (it has ‘Data-Bris’ on it) and you share it with us. But to do that, you need to get into your RDSF folders.

Accessing the University of Bristol network

On-campus, University computers link to the RDSF through the network – either through hardwired desktop machines or via the VPN software or hub cables on NWOW laptops. At home, you will need to establish a secure connection to access the RDSF.

There are three ways of doing this, but for ease and speed, we recommend using the VPN:

Virtual Private Network
VPN Overview

The VPN puts your computer on the University network and allows access to a number of services including the RDSF. University-managed Windows computers have the VPN software already installed. The VPN is often needed to access files on Filestore when using a managed University laptop. Details are available on how to install VPN on your Windows, Mac and Linux machines and on iOS and Android devices.

If you’re using a personal device, please follow instructions on the IT website.

Setting up the VPN is a simple 2-stage process for Windows or Mac:

i. download the BIG-IP Edge Client app, to install on your machine (you only need to do this once)
ii. start the app and log in to open the VPN and access the network

Publishing data

Once on a secure connection, you can access the RDSF, and deposit data for publication in data.bris. We’ve got a short video you can use which shows the publication process:

We’ve also got a webpage with more detailed instructions on the publication process.

In particular we’d highlight our short Data preparation rules, and what you to include in your essential Readme.txt file to help anyone encountering your data for the first time to ‘unpick’ your data, access your file formats, check  your data sources and understsand your file naming choices – basically make understanding your data as simple and supported as you can!

And that’s it. As soon as you have ‘requested publication’ we can look at the dataset.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *