Data Stewardship Wizard

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16 Dec 2019

Data Stewardship Wizard

We present the latest state of our tool, the Data Stewardship Wizard.

The Data Stewardship Wizard is a tool for data management planning that is focused on getting the most value out of data management planning for the project itself rather than on fulfilling obligations. It is based on FAIR Data Stewardship, in which each data-related decision in a project acts to optimize the Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability and/or Reusability of the data. The background to this philosophy is that the first reuser of the data is the researcher himself. The tool encourages the consulting of expertise and experts, can help researchers avoid risks they did not know they would encounter, and can help them discover helpful technologies they did not know existed.

Data management planning has several sociological problems: 

  • The activity is seen as an obligation, a burden, by researchers.
  • Some data management novices underestimate the risks of insufficient data management and data management planning and think that their knowledge of computing in the home environment extrapolates to research data management in the lab.
  • It is hard for experts in specific aspects of data management to be found by the researchers that need them the most. Expertise lists do not work for users who are unaware that they will be running into a specific data management problem during the project.

We try to solve those problems using our tool, the “Data Stewardship Wizard”. We use the term “Data Stewardship” to indicate that the activity is not only taking place during the project, but extends to the long term maintenance of the resulting research data. We use the term “Wizard” to refer to the tool as an “expert system” providing context dependent guidance to its users.

Our wizard

  • alleviates the negative view of data management planning by focusing primarily on the benefits for the research project itself and the researcher, not on the obligations;
  • can help to show researchers all the different aspects of data management: IT, archival, sustainability and the entire FAIR data spectrum. The guidance tells stories of experts who have learned their lessons the hard way;
  • points to available experts and expertise exactly where the issue at hand is brought up in the questionnaire.

The Data Stewardship Wizard (

  • presents questions in a hierarchical fashion, so that only relevant data management subjects are presented to the user;
  • can function as a checklist for data stewards operating in a project, just like pilots use a checklist to fly a plane: it ascertains that the experts do not forget any aspects of the planning;
  • consists mostly of closed questions, encouraging thinking through all aspects and avoiding the problem that the researcher does not know where to start writing, thereby preventing the urge to copy an existing data management plan from another project.

Technically, the wizard consists of 

  • an open source web tool (with containerized installation) to present hierarchical data management questionnaires, storing intermediate results in a database;
  • a knowledge model that contains a few hundred questions and is easy to extend;
  • a system to maintain knowledge models and to adapt them to your own institute or infrastructure.
  • a templating engine that can be used to transform the data stewardship plan into a standard data management plan following funder guidelines.

Click on the poster image to enlarge


Name & surname: 
Rob Hooft, Marek Suchánek, Jan Slifka, Vojtěch Knaisl, Robert Pergl
Scientific Discipline / Research Area: 
Domain Agnostic
DTL/ELIXIR-NL (Rob Hooft) and Czech Technical University in Prague (other authors)
PDF icon DSW_HealthRI2020_Poster.pdf347.29 KB