Data stewards team in Delft

Dr Marta Teperek works as a Data Stewardship Coordinator at the TU Delft Library. “We are appointing one data steward at each of the eight faculties. My role is to coordinate the efforts of this team”.

“At TU Delft, we want to tailor data stewardship support to the needs of specific scientific disciplines. Therefore, a dedicated data steward will be appointed at each faculty, on top of the central support offered by TU Delft library. The data stewards should have an interest in research data management and a scientific background, i.e., a PhD degree relevant to the particular faculty. Six out of eight faculties have already appointed their data steward. My job is to coordinate the activities of the data stewards. We meet on a weekly basis to increase the synergy of our objectives. In addition, I organise training for the data stewards. I think we form a nicely complementary team; we can really learn from each other,” says Teperek.

Dr Marta Teperek

The data stewards act as the primary contact person for researchers with data-related questions, including questions about the General Data Protection Regulation, data management plans, and data storage solutions. Teperek: “It is impossible to be an expert on everything, so the data stewards have a consultancy role, referring researchers to the right expert within or outside TU Delft. For instance, they may escalate a question to the legal service team at TU Delft, or to the ICT department if a bespoke IT solution is needed.”

The data stewards will also develop data-related training. “There is some central training at TU Delft, such as the ‘Informed researcher’ course for PhD students, which addresses research data management. But the data stewards will develop training tailored to their specific discipline. For instance, the Faculty of Technology, Policy & Management is developing a course on barriers to data sharing and what can be done to overcome these. And other faculties are working on trainings about big data or personal data. The intention is that the data stewards will initiate the development of these trainings and then hand them over to the graduate schools.”

The Delft data stewards team has creative ways to draw attention to their activities. Teperek: “We organise awareness sessions and lunchtime sessions. We also created ‘What a data steward can do for you’ posters and postcards; these are distributed over TU Delft buildings. And we actively approach researchers that recently received a grant to ask if they need assistance in data management planning. In addition, we developed a survey with the aim to benchmark ourselves and to raise awareness for the importance of good data stewardship. It is a short questionnaire with questions such as ‘Do you back-up your data?’, ‘Do you know who owns your data?’, and ‘Have you ever lost research data?’ We sent the questionnaire to all researchers at TU Delft and 22% responded. Only 40% of the respondents backed up their data and almost 20% had lost data the the past year.”

Data champions
Teperek started her job in August 2017, so she is only just exploring data stewardship initiatives outside Delft. “I am a member of the DTL Data Stewards Interest Group. I really appreciate the DTL approach in the sense that everybody is welcome. It is very open and transparent. As for Delft, I am convinced that our data stewards team will stimulate open science. We are now working on a new programme, inspired by an initiative of Cambridge University: in May 2018, we will open a call for ‘data champions’. Researchers that are dedicated to data management can apply for the title of data champion, and they can receive funding to further develop their data expertise, for instance by joining a conference.”

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