IDW 2023: From a student’s perspective
When the half term break (or autumn holidays as they are called in Germany) started I thought I would be staying in Berlin and meeting up with my friends. However, I ended up attending International Data Week 2023 in Salzburg in October with my mum and it turned out to be one of the most exciting weeks of my life: This was my first ever in-person conference of this size! I am currently doing my “Abitur” in a German school and since I’ll be graduating in less than two years I found this work experience a really fulfilling and eye-opening event in many ways. Firstly, my main impression was how international the audience was. I met a really great amount of interesting people from all over the world: Brazil, Algeria, Australia, Greece, America- to name a few!
A lot of the Plenary Sessions I attended made me think about and taught me lots of new aspects about a topic I had never looked into before. Even though I couldn’t understand all of the terminology and didn’t have all the background knowledge needed I particularly liked learning about entirely new concepts:
1) rewards systems, 2) different types of data such as trajectory and indigenous data, 3) open science and 4) multi-disciplinary.
I got really excited when I was able to connect some topics with my participation at Model United Nations- I heard a lot about the Sustainable Development Goals, which play a very important role in many MUN conferences!
Another highlight for me personally was that I had the opportunity to meet many women in science and leadership (heads of departments, large research groups, programmes) who I could connect with! They make their jobs look fun and interesting and I really liked having an insight. Who knows, maybe I will be a scientist one day too!
It was quite confusing in the break out sessions between the plenaries as I wasn't sure how to choose between all the different subjects, so I often sat at the booth and tried to answer questions from people!
Some other ‘fun facts’ - I also learned:
Before carrying a stand up poster on the train for a whole day, I didn’t even know they existed, but I even learned how to put one together and set it up! See my photo above
What an “end of data write up” is, and I was happy to contribute to it, but that writing takes time, especially if you are trying to make a text shorter to summarize it!
That stickers don't come cut out in their shape, you have to cut them out with scissors!
Salzburg not only is a beautiful city but has delicious food, especially cakes and other desserts! (Everyone got really excited about the “Salzburger Knockerl” which was big enough to share between five)
Conferences have endless supplies of free coffee and tea!
That conferences can be exhausting but a really great opportunity to meet wonderful people.
Here is my overview of the main sessions:
Plenary 1: Title: Welcome to IDW 2023 and 'Spatial Data Science: Geographic Context Matters
This was right into the deep end of research. Doing Abitur, this is a bit different to what I do everyday and here were experts really into their fields and this session was about Geomapping. It was quite technical for me but I managed to understand that data privacy is something that there have to be rules for but it is easy to follow people on maps. That “citizen science” is also a good way to collect data, but you have to be careful about quality here, and that less words on slides is better!
Plenary 2: Title Inclusivity in Open Science while advancing research assessment and career pathway impact
I liked this because it was all about fairness in science, which I think is really important. he talks came from Australia, New Zealand and Brazil and the US. The main outcomes of this plenary session were solutions to the impact of biases on assessment research, specifically with peer reviews, in Australasia. Examples such as the Matthew and the Halo effect were given to underline the impact which influential companies have on individual opinions and views on research. Supporting locally led initiatives and installing appropriate practices can help tackle these problems. Another issue which was talked about was the inconsistent data collection throughout the world, which makes interpreting and comparing results challenging- nationally published journals can improve the quality of research. Open Science makes research accessible for everybody.
Plenary 3: Title A Virtuous Circle - Community Adoption of RDA Outputs
This seemed to me about how to actually do what RDA has and many speakers describing their own experiences and about how to find them on the RDA website.
Plenary 4: Title Data and global challenges: data, science, trust and policy
I liked the marine element (it goes without saying that this is the greatest resource of our planet) of this and how they find it important to open up research and how this links to many other disciplines. This connects the Ocean to the SDGs and I also got to hear from an international Science Office officer who is involved with the SDGs. UN agencies and a talk about the scientific agenda which was very exciting to me
Final Plenary: Title: Ethics, data science, and AI in dialogue with one another and society
I could only follow this on Zoom, and I wasn’t sure what was a robot chat or not. It was quite fun and I liked it when the chat bots interrupted. Ethics seems quite complicated to me, but AI isn’t complicated in my mind and it seems it is here to stay.