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Mikhail Kuklin starts as Aalto University's Data Advisor

Interview with data advisor
Mikhail Kuklin (Data Advisor)

You are starting your work as Aalto University’s first ever Data Advisor at Research Services’ Open Science and ACRIS team at the beginning of June 2019. Welcome!

What is your background?

My background is computational chemistry, which means that I apply theoretical approaches to solve the research problems instead of carrying out real experiments. In practice, I do my work in my office by using a laptop. Within my academic career, I have worked in four universities and two countries. I got B. Sc. degree in Russia, and M. Sc. and Ph. D. degrees in Finland (University of Eastern Finland (Joensuu)). My next steps were postdoctoral researcher positions in University of Jyväskylä and Aalto University. Overall, I have spent about 10 years working in the area of computational chemistry. I also worked partly with statistics in some of my research projects.

What is your relationship to research data and data management?

Every day I obtain a massive amount of the research data and every day I have to think what, how, and why I have to keep out of my data. Therefore, questions of proper research data management have always been of high importance for me. However, I have not always addressed questions of research data management.

About one year ago, I became a data agent at the School of Chemical Engineering. The idea of having data agents at different schools of the Aalto University is to provide help with organization, description, storage, preservation, and sharing of the data collected in a research project. It is important that a data agent has a school-associated background to understand the needs of a particular unit. I have to say that within that time I got a vast experience in proper research data management, and now I know the current problems in the field also from the researchers’ point of view. That was the primary motivation for me to join Research Services of Aalto University as a Data Advisor.

What do you see as the main challenges in your work as a Data Advisor?

The first challenge will be delivering reasonable explanations on the importance of proper research data management. Together with Research Services and data agents, I aim to influence toward a cultural change in day-to-day practices of the research community by making the data management a part of the daily workflow.

The second challenge is linked to FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) principles that are still fairly unknown to Aalto researchers. FAIR principles assume sharing and openness of the research data, and I personally see it as the main challenge for the research community.

The third challenge is to build a support network that understands researchers and their needs, and offers the right services. To achieve it, we plan to start collecting information and feedback from researchers on their research data practices and the benefits on the sharing and opening of the results.

What do you see as the main duties in your work as a Data Advisor?

Overall, as a Data Advisor, I will help with all questions related to Research Data Management and fulfilling the open science requirements (organization and storage of the research data, choosing suitable services for secure data storage or repository, good data management practices, and data sharing). I will provide training materials, training events, and personal discussions for the research community in collaboration with the teams of the Research Services and data agents.

Research Data Management, FAIR, and Open Data increase the impact of research. However, this area is still under development, and we need measures to improve the situation.

I really hope that you, the research community of the Aalto University, will share the same ideas as I do as a Data Advisor, and we will achieve a FAIR and open Aalto together!

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