RDM/Background Research on RDM/RDM Survey

Understanding the state-of-the-art: Standardized Survey

Based on preliminary interview findings as well as faculty visits and policy working group consultations, a survey was designed to gain quantitative insights into the way data intensity, data handling and research styles play out with respect to RDM at TU Graz. The survey was hosted on LimeSurvey and sent out via email to all members of scientific staff at TU Graz in September 2019. In total, the survey was kept open for 5 weeks. Two reminders were sent, one after two weeks and the second one week before the end of the survey. Additionally, an announcement was sent out one week in advance. Consultations were held with the responsible bodies at TU Graz to follow established protocols for surveys and to clarify issues of data protection. The survey was sent out to 1784 scientific staff members. 498 respondents started the survey, and of those, 259 completed the questionnaire. These were included in the analysis. No incentives were given out to encourage participation. Survey respondents are from all 7 faculties and from all academic positions. A more fine-grained analysis (e.g. at the departmental level) was impossible due to data-protection restrictions at TU Graz.

The survey consisted of 27 questions in five groups:

  1. Data Types
  2. Data Quantity
  3. Data Handling
  4. Obstacles to Research Data Management
  5. Demographics

The first group of questions concerned research outputs generated by researchers at TU Graz, the kinds of data formats typically used, as well as research outputs other than data (e.g. physical samples of any kind). The second group contained questions regarding typical data amounts per year and (average) storage space required. Data handling refers to practices of data sharing/handling as well as attitudes towards e.g. data reuse and repositories. Obstacles to Research Data Management refers to researchers’ experiences with RDM. Demographics contained three questions: faculty, position, and role of the respondent. These three items were designed to ensure data protection was observed but the answers would still allow for meaningful analysis. 
The survey items were adapted, in part, from a survey on RDM knowledge and practices among ERC grant winners commissioned by the European Research Council and written by the Public Policy and Management Institute (PPMI), Digital Curation Centre (DCC), Georg-August-Universität, Göttingen and Science-Metrix (PPMI 2018). The survey went through several rounds of refinement (formulations of items, order of items, translation). The survey was developed in English and then translated into German after items were finalized. One pretest was commissioned where volunteers from the policy working group were asked to complete and comment on the survey. For the pretest, the survey version was hosted on LimeSurvey. 10 responses were received which contained valuable criticisms and hints as to what should be amended. These suggestions were incorporated into the final survey design.


Dr. Tony Ross-Hellauer
Digitale TU Graz-Handlungsfeld Forschung

Brockmanngasse 84, 8010 Graz
Phone: +43 316 873 32800
Email: ross-hellauernoSpam@tugraz.at