This is the latest in our Day in the Life series of blogposts.
Hi! I’m Isabel, one of the OU’s Research Support Librarians. I began working at the OU in 2013, and throughout that time I have focussed on supporting Research Data Management, seeing the service from its creation through to now having a busy data repository and enquiry service.
In common with a lot of the rest of the world, my working life has changed considerably over the past year and I’ve had the challenge of balancing working from home with nursery and school closures, while sharing my working space with my teacher husband for much of the past year. However, the pandemic has brought its benefits and I feel I now enjoy a much better work-life balance…
8.30am – The “commute”. Working from home means I no longer need to commute to Milton Keynes, but I do have 2 little ones to take to school and nursery, which we do by bike. The morning ride is one of the highlights of my day with my five year old speeding ahead at top speed while I carry the three year old on the back of my bike; it’s very enjoyable especially when the sun is shining and the birds are singing.
9.00: Log on to my laptop. My WFH workstation is in the kitchen at the dining table. Sitting in the kitchen is not brilliant for a serial snacker with no willpower, so I’ve given up buying biscuits, much to my family’s dismay! I spend the first half hour of my day checking my emails and the team inbox. This morning there is a Data Management Plan to review so I block out some time later in the day to read it and get back to the researcher to let them know I’ll be handling it later today.
9.30 Weekly team catch-up. While working from home, we find that there were much fewer informal opportunities to share what we’ve been up to during the working week so every Friday we have a Research Support Team catch-up which gives us an opportunity to find out what our colleagues are up to and share ideas.
10.00 UK Data Service webinar on Ethical and Legal Issues in Research Data. I’ve been attending some of the UK Data Service’s excellent webinars recently to ensure that the advice and training we’re delivering to our researchers is up to date with current best practice. This morning’s webinar closely aligned with one of the webinars that we run as part of our Research Support training programme, so it was useful to identify gaps and strengths in our provision.
My workstation in the kitchen
12.00 Work on Research Data Management Policy review. We’re reviewing our Research Data Management Policy with a view to refreshing it towards the end of 2021. In anticipation of this I am carrying out a benchmarking exercise, comparing our policy with those of other UK universities. I spend some time this morning reading through other policies and picking out the key themes.
13.00 Review Data Management Plan. I grab a quick sandwich and then get started on the Data Management Plan which was in the inbox this morning. This plan is for an ESRC bid, it’s in good shape but could do with some more thinking around data security, especially with regards to storing and transferring personal data. I add comments to the DMP and send it back to the researcher. I expect to receive a further draft of the plan in the next few days which I will read again and hopefully be able to approve for submission.
14.20 Back on my bike! Time to collect the five year old from school – due to Covid the school has staggered start and finish times which means the school run is very early!
14.50 Final catch up on inbox and emails. The small person is installed in front of the telly with a snack for the final forty minutes of my work day. During this time I have a final check of my emails and reply to anything which has come in during the day. Today there have been a couple of enquiries – one about retention periods for research data and another about adding a research project to the OU’s Information Asset Register.
15.30 End of my work day. I work part-time and this is when my work day ends; time to start my other job as Mummy!