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RDA/EOSC Future Project Grantee Spotlight: Simon Hodson, Hugh Shanahan, Patricia Herterich, Louise Bezuidenhout And Thomas Van Erven

By Alexandra Delipalta, 22 May 2023

The RDA/EOSC Future team is launching a series of spotlights to showcase the grantees, their work and experience.

Find out more about the RDA/EOSC Future grants

This week we spoke to the team working on the project ‘Training delivery of foundational data science skills‘.

Can you tell us about the origins of the idea behind the project? 

The CODATA-RDA schools have been running successfully since 2016 and have grown in terms of the number taught but also the curriculum and the methods used. It’s become clear however that in order for it to be more effective it needs to have properly documented processes and to have a clearer strategy with respect to its online platforms. The proposal came out of discussions with the RDA at the Seoul plenary and a meeting between Louise Bezuidenhout and Hugh Shanahan at the annual school held in Trieste, Italy where the proposal was drafted.

How has the project plan (and perhaps the idea) evolved during execution?

We have scoped a few activities that were vague ideas in the original proposal to better inform the project work. As part of reviewing the curriculum material and creating guidelines for keeping material up to date going forward, we decided to trial a community consultation of the existing data stewardship curriculum as we identified that some work needs to be done on updating that material. Based on this first curriculum review sprint, we can schedule updates for other parts of the material and ensure the Schools stay fit for purpose.

Have there been any surprises (new opportunities or challenges)?

The major challenge has been finding the right people to do the heavy lifting in the project! That said, we have two really great people working on this (Patricia Herterich and Thomas van Erven).

Can you tell us more about the team and how it has evolved? New skills/learning acquired, working methods shaped by the RDA/EOSC environment?

There are two project co-leads, Louise Bezuidenhout and Hugh Shanahan who deal with the day to day operation. CODATA is the formal PI for the project. Simon Hodson of CODATA provides strategic input overall. Patricia Herterich is the project officer and leads on 3 of the 4 work packages. Thomas van Erven is providing IT support on the project specifically for the last work package. Skills learnt include developing MoUs, budgets and other documents; using git-related tools and deploying Moodle.

Are there any lessons learnt that you could share with the community?

Pencil in more time for recruitment than you think. The RDA/EOSCF team are really helpful. Sustained IT solutions are more expensive than you think but good development people can do much more than you think.  

Documenting workflows and procedures sounds boring, but is incredibly important. You cannot do this too early – even if you think your project is small and does not yet need elaborate governance, getting processes in place early on makes everything so much easier. Don’t try and recreate documents from scratch – there’s a huge amount out there that you can start off with.

How was your experience at the RDA 20th Plenary Meeting?

Great – it was lovely to hear more from the other projects and be able to chat to people and get their ideas. 

One of the continuing challenges for the SoRDS has been to keep engagement with alumni. Over the last few years we have made use of a newsletter, a forum and joint webinars with CODATA Connect. However, more can be done to assist alumni to transition to integrated members of the RDA community. The work done on this grant sets SoRDS in a strong technical and procedural position for revisiting alumni engagement activities. At the RDA plenary SoRDS agreed to partner with the RDA ECR IG and the secretariat to identify new areas to support ECR/alumni engagement. These activities will be launched as a session at the Plenary 21 in Salzburg later this year.