I needed somebody who actually has the time to look up what tools are available and who can translate general policies and general infrastructure into daily practical solutions that fit our local needs. There’s a huge gap between policy and implementation for people doing the daily work. We need discipline specific support and we need hands-on help | Bas Teusink, VU University Library, 2018
In recent years, the term data steward has irrevocably entered the realm of data support. Data stewards face the challenge of translating the available infrastructure, tools and data policy into meaningful, tailor-made, discipline-specific advice. In this section we will show how different institutions are increasing the involvement of researchers and shaping data stewardship.
Facilitating FAIR data
In recent years, the policies of research funders and institutions have been very important in setting the agenda and creating awareness of the importance of FAIR data. However, much remains to be done to involve and facilitate the majority of researchers.
Surveys looking at the willingness of researchers to share research data show time and time again that the majority of researchers understand the importance of making their data discoverable. But daily practice does not yet keep pace with the intended ideal (Stuart, 2018; Houtkoop, 2018; Van den Eynden, 2016; CWTS, 2017). Data stewards will prove to be essential links in a process of cultural change where FAIR data is slowly but surely becoming an everyday reality (European Commission, 2018).
The main obstacles to better research data management and sharing are cultural. But change is in our hands | Teperek, 2018
Increasing research engagement
The following strategies are used (inter)nationally to involve researchers and inspire enthusiasm for quality data management and a FAIR delivery of their research data. The strategies increase in degree of interactivity:
Putting researchers in the spotlight
Recognition of researchers for their contributions to open science
On another level, the recognition of open science practices as a recruitment criterion (Schönbrodt, 2019) and the assessment of researchers on their contributions to open science (E.g. Utrecht University, 2018; NPOS, 2017, République française, 2018) is the subject of international debate. The outcome of this discussion will prove essential in the transition to a culture in which FAIR data is the standard.
Organising training sessions and meetings
Creating a Community of Practice
- The University of Cambridge established a community of data champions (Savage, 2019). These data champions consist of researchers, PhD students and supporters who want to commit themselves to good data management and to promote the sharing of data. They meet regularly in a Community of Practice on a shared theme.
- Dutch universities followed the concept of the data champions from the UK, for example:
- Wageningen University & Research blogs about their data champions (Wageningen University and Research, n.d.b.) and creates a community of data stewards by organising meetings (Wageningen University and Research, 2019). In the definition of Wageningen University & Research, data stewards are researchers, PhD students or supporters with partial tasks in the field of data management.
- You can read more about the data champions at Delft University of Technology later in this section.
Embedded data stewards
As an example of the elaboration of the embedded data stewards concept you can have a look at :.
- The Data Stewardship-programme at Delft University of Technology (2017)
- The embedded data manager service at Utrecht University (n.d.b.).
For a detailed description of these initiatives see the 'In the spotlight' section later in this section.
It is a good thing to involve and motivate researchers. But it's also good to realise that - luckily - great initiatives come from researchers themselves too. In 2018 and 2019, for example, open science grassroots communities are popping up everywhere (Nosek, 2019). This is also the case in the Netherlands. After Utrecht University started with an open science community (OSCU, n.d.) the other universities soon followed (Eerland & Brinkman, 2019). Joining such initiatives as a data supporter is essential.
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DCC, RDNL, Univerisity of Edinburgh (2019). Delivering Research Data Management Services [Online course]. https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/delivering-research-data-management-services
Delft University of Technology (n.d.a.) Data Stewardship. https://www.tudelft.nl/en/library/current-topics/research-data-management/r/data-stewardship/
Delft University of Technology (n.d.b.). Open working. An Experiment in Open Working from 4TU.Centre for Research Data & TU Delft Research Data Services. [blog]. https://openworking.wordpress.com/
Delft University of Technology (2017, August). Data Stewardship – addressing disciplinary data management needs. https://openworking.wordpress.com/2017/08/29/data-stewardship-addressing-disciplinary-data-management-needs/
Eerland, A., Brinkman, L. (2019). Open Science Communities the Netherlands (OSCNL). https://osf.io/vz2sy/
European Commission (2018). Turning FAIR into reality. Final report and action plan from the European Commission expert group on FAIR data. EU publications. https://doi.org/10.2777/1524
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Houtkoop, B. L., Chambers, C., Macleod, M., Bishop, D. V. M., Nichols, T. E., & Wagenmakers, E.-J. (2018). Data Sharing in Psychology: A Survey on Barriers and Preconditions. Advances in Methods and Practices in Psychological Science, 1(1), 70–85. https://doi.org/10.1177/2515245917751886
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SPARC Europe (n.d.).European Open Data Champions. https://openscholarchampions.eu/opendata/
Stuart, D., Grace, B., Iain, H., Katie, A., Dan, P., Mithu, L.; et al. (2018): Whitepaper: Practical challenges for researchers in data sharing. figshare. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.5975011.v1
Stuurgroep NPOS (2018). Notitie – Erkennen en waarderen van onderzoekers. https://www.openscience.nl/files/openscience/2019-02/notitie-erkennen-en-waarderen-van-onderzoekers.pdf
SURF (2019). Onderzoeksondersteuning op hogescholen uitgelicht. Vijf voorbeelden uit de praktijk. https://www.surf.nl/files/2019-06/20190701-surf-rapport-onderzoeksondersteuning-op-hogescholen-uitgelicht-web.pdf
Teperek, M. et al. (2019). Engaging researchers with research data: The cookbookhttps://docs.google.com/document/d/1XnXJeOocmaz-xU0oTmMLpBXrcFTdHmBDQG8bHMq7_GY/edit#heading=h.ezhiysrwie4h
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