Adequate data stewardship ensures that:
- you have adequate storage space, back up, support staff time;
- your data is well described with reference- & meta data;
- your data will be free from versioning errors and gaps in documentation;
- possibly, your data can be used for healthcare purposes (medical research data);
- your data is FAIR and can be shared with others, for scientific research, commercial development, or validation;
- you meet legal and ethical requirements, including privacy of study subjects;
- your data is backed up and safe from sudden loss or corruption;
- you will get the best possible value from your research data investments;
- you are able to share your final data set publicly;
- your data will remain accessible and comprehensible in the future.
In 2019 a report has been written as part of the ZonMw funded project “Towards a community-endorsed data steward profession description for life science research”. This report defined, for the first time, the data steward function for the life sciences
domain at the level of detail necessary to implement the function profiles in the research institutes and to appoint data stewards. A short summary of the report can be found at the website of DTL.
The overview of existing training material and the outline for a new training give a basis for formalizing data steward education to further professionalise the data steward function. This will increase the capacity and quality of data stewards in the institutes and the life sciences domain in general.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the definition of data stewardship?
Data stewardship involves all activities required to ensure that digital research data are findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable (FAIR) in the long term, including data management, archiving and reuse by third parties.
As described in the report ‘Towards a community-endorsed data steward profession description for life science research’, the working areas of data stewards could be divided into three areas: policy, research and infrastructure. However, there are clear overlaps between these areas. Data stewardship is therefore seen as an interdisciplinary profession, forming bridges between different disciplines.
Is there a glossary of research data definitions?
Yes, the ‘Landelijk Coördinatiepunt Research Data Management (LCRDM)’ has developed a glossary of research data management terms (see English version here), in collaboration with the NFU.
Where can I find data stewardship courses?
HANDS toolbox contains an overview of data-related courses.
Is data stewardship part of the curriculum of students?
The need for students to be trained in data stewardship and data science as a standard part of their curriculum is becoming obvious. New programmes are being developed to answer to this need in the best way. An example of this is the Dutch-Flemish HELIS Academy project, which is supported by the EU.
Where can I find other people interested in data stewardship?
- The Data4lifesciences programme is coordinated by the Netherlands Federation of University Medical Centres (NFU) and connect local initiatives to national and international infrastructures.
- The Landelijk Coördinatiepunt Research Data Management (LCRDM) manages an RDM discussion list. Focus of the list is to share information on RDM in general and to connect between RDM experts (broader than LCRDM-focus only).
- Anyone active in the field of RDM (Support, IT, Policy) can register for the LCRDM Pool of Experts to connect to a broad national network of experts from all kind of research institutions (umc’s, hbo’s, universities, research institutions of KNAW and NWO).
- Health RI is the interconnected infrastructure for personalized medicine & health research in the Netherlands.
- The aim of the Nationaal Plan Open Science is that researchers reuse other parties' research data and services where possible and make their own data available as far as possible.
- The Dutch Techcentre for Life Sciences (DTL) has a Data Stewards Interest Group.
- ELIXIR has a European data management working group, which focuses on activities that spread the expertise on data management in ELIXIR between nodes and that make this expertise available to life science researchers and their projects.
- The Research Data Alliance (RDA) was launched by the European Commission, the United States National Science Foundation and National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Australian Government’s Department of Innovation with the goal of building the social and technical infrastructure to enable open sharing of data. The RDA creates national RDA nodes in all countries, including a Dutch one.
- The ELSI Helpdesk (Health-RI) is the National Service Desk helping researchers, professionals, ethicists, lawyers, policy advisers, patients and patient representatives to address issues related to ELSI (Ethical, Legal, Social Implications) by making information and advice available.
The scope of HANDS is responsible data stewardship. But how does it relate to general research (quality) management and ambitions like Open Access?
Although the scope of this document is restricted to data stewardship, it may sometimes refer to general research practices that are associated with data stewardship (such as informed consent or Open Access). Yet, if you need detailed information about these subjects, we advise you to visit the ELSI Helpdesk and/or the National Platform Open Science. Also, it is advised to take a look at the NFU richtlijn Kwaliteitsborging Mensgebonden Onderzoek 2019.
- ZonMW-funded Report: Towards FAIR data steward as profession for the lifesciences
- LCRDM report: Datastewardship op de kaart: Een verkenning van taken en rollen in Nederlandse onderzoeksinstellingen
- Vermenigvuldigen door delen - Data delen in gezondheidsonderzoek, van ambitie naar praktijk. Rapport van COREON/Federa, in opdracht van ZonMw, 23 december 2015.
- Data Stewardship for Discovery: A Practical Guide for Data Experts Book: Nov 15, 2017: Barend Mons.
- DAMA – Body of Knowledge.