Data stewardship, the long-term and sustainable care for research data, is a hot topic. Funders and research institutes increasingly demand adequate data stewardship plans. But researchers are struggling with the demands.
DTL Data Programme Manager Rob Hooft: “Data stewardship has become an essential part of contemporary research, but it is also becoming one of the biggest challenges. The development of proper practices for data stewardship can hardly keep up with the changing demands.”
Funders and research institutes increasingly demand adequate data stewardship plans for grant applications and research projects in general. For instance, in the last two rounds of the Enabling Technologies hotel call, ZonMw asked applicants to complete a data stewardship section as part of their project proposal. Also, following the advice of the high level expert group of the European Open Science Cloud, the European Commission announced that a proper data stewardship plan will become a mandatory part of Horizon2020 grant proposals.
Obtaining data stewardship expertise is therefore very important, and several organisations have picked up the gauntlet. DTL focuses on its role as a facilitator, bringing together data stewardship experts, and actively promoting sharing of solutions. DTL does this both at a national scale, e.g. through our focus meetings, and internationally, in ELIXIR.
DTL/ELIXIR-NL is participating in an ELIXIR working group that is making an inventory of the data management support that is available in the ELIXIR member states. DTL/ELIXIR-NL will formulate an advice on how bundled expertise can be made available to life scientists all over Europe. Furthermore, DTL/ELIXIR-NL collaborates with ELIXIR Czechia, ELIXIR Sweden and ELIXIR Slovenia to bundle data stewardship guidance into web applications. These could help scientists to discover what is available and help experts to make their expertise known to the world. The applications would also contain educational modules, facilitating sharing good practice.
Much of the expertise that will be assembled will be coming from within ELIXIR, but not exclusively: DTL is also participating actively in bridging ELIXIR to the Research Data Alliance, where we can learn from practices developed outside the Life Sciences as well as outside Europe. Rob Hooft: “The life science researchers and expert groups that are members of DTL are close to the fire, and will be among the first ones to benefit from the developments, without having to develop all good practices themselves.”