Certification and Accreditation for Data Science Training and Education WG

30 Jan 2017

Certification and Accreditation for Data Science Training and Education WG

WG Charter:

The Certification and Accreditation for Data Science Training and Education WG will engage in a yearlong exercise to map existing certification and accreditation schemes from around the world that relate to courses of all varieties that relate to Data Science and other data-related themes. The survey will encompass undergraduate, postgraduate, professional development and other non-academic pathways. We will include modules, courses and programmes, from both public and private bodies. At the end of 12 months the Working Group will deliver a comprehensive report comparing and analyzing a broad sweep of the options together with recommendations for how best to serve the interests of future Data Science and data-related education and training.

We propose that the WG has a shorter day-to-day title of Certification and Accreditation WG.

 

Value Proposition

Certification and accreditation matters to the RDA community as it has a direct bearing on the career pathways of nearly all members. This is particularly true of this community with its novel and interdisciplinary professional pathways. Not only are Data Science and data-related fields creating new professions but they are necessitating a common classification of competences and skills so that managers and policy makers can make sense of the different traditions that are coming together in today’s hybrid qualifications and professions.

The report that this WG will deliver will be therefore of significant value to managers, leaders, policy makers, educators and trainers as well as, crucially, many RDA members who are themselves pioneering such novel data-centric careers. Ultimately, establishing a fully recognised international Data Science profession would most likely take ten-years; it is in the interests of both current and future RDA members and many others that this activity commences as soon as possible.

 

Engagement with existing work in the area

The original idea for this WG came from a series of discussions within the existing Interest Group Education and Training on handling of research data. A further stimulus was the work that is underway within the EU-funded EDISON project which was established to accelerate the creation of Data Science and other data-related professions. EDISON is particularly committed to support the promotion of certification solutions for Data Science but is also interested to support work in promoting course accreditation.

Whilst there are no other RDA Groups looking at this specific topic, we see a great opportunity to connect with other RDA groups representing other traditional employment areas including: libraries, archives, security and specific academic and professional domains.

Beyond the RDA activities we are aware of various initiaitives to take these ideas forward. These include the Mozilla Open Badges scheme: https://openbadges.org.

Discussions so far have identified three key areas that need to be addressed:

  1. The challenges presented by data-driven approaches to scientific research are evolving across traditional disciplines:
    1. Interdisciplinary teams will increasingly necessitate complimentary skills
    2. As these skills are cross-cutting and interdisciplinary, traditional qualifications will only go so far.
  2. In the professional world university diplomas are not always sufficient to prove that a candidate can apply the knowledge in a given working environment
  3. Who and what bodies will provide the accreditation and certification for these new and evolving courses and modules?
    1. They will need to be trusted and valued
    2. They will need a past and a future

Work Plan:

A work plan, following standard project management procedures, will be developed to deliver expand the following elements:

Key deliverables:

  1. M1 - updated workplan, target communities that we should consider for connections
  2. M2 - horizon scanning document highlighting professional areas to be covered, related data-science, data-related eg. data librarian professional pathways, case studies of examples eg. badging 
  3. M3 - presentation of progress to date at 9th Plenary, Barcelona, encourage greater engagement 
  4. M6 - draft report, progress to date, oppotunities/issues identified
  5. M8 - 10th Plenary, Montreal: share preliminary report with other RDA groups and expternal bodies to gather further input and comment for prparation of final report
  6. M12 - A comprehensive report comprising an extensive catalogue of Data Science courses, modules and programmes capturing their certification schemes and, where applicable, the accreditation of the bodies offering the courses 

Activities:

  • The WG will build a community of individuals with interests in this area but coming from diverse backgrounds both geographically and professionally. We appreciate that not all participants will be able to commit to the fieldwork, but we hope will provide insight and critical reasoning into the work in progress. The WG will report regularly, informally through social media and blogs, and formally through bi-monthly reports of draft elements of the final report.

  • As this a fast-track twelve-month taskforce, we will meet face-to-face between Plenaries and also hold bi-monthly telephone conference in order to maintain momentum.

  • The initial drive for the WG came from the pre-existing work that has started at a smaller scale within the EDISON project. However, the Denver BoF demonstrated that there is a strong broader interest in this topic from both around the world and also across many traditionally different disciplines. Clearly, there are many who now realize that close collaboration and interchangeable professional development is inevitable. We therefore aim to build the number of co-chairs to 4 quite swiftly in order to maintain a collegiate leadership approach.
  • As mentioned, the BoF demonstrated a broad spectrum of interest from others already quite active in other groups. We will build on this and aim to convene a Liaison group within the WG of RDA members who also happen to hold administrative roles within other RDA groups and who can therefore play a communication role between two groups.

Adoption Plan:

The WG will deliver a comprehensive report after 12-months.

We anticipate that the recommendations from the report would include a strong recommendation for a follow on WG designed to take forward the work and further exploit the lessons learned and continue to be of benefit to the broad RDA community in terms of their professional development.

Furthermore, part of the legacy planning for the EDISON project involves delivering a functioning community portal offering a number of services to support Data Science and other data-related professions. The report on certification and accreditation would compliment such services in a manner that could benefit all parties.

Initial Membership:

The following people attended the BoF meeting held at the 8th Plenary in Denver and indicated an interest in supporting and participating in the proposed WG:

  • Steve Brewer, EDISON, University of Southampton, UK
  • Małgorzata Krakowian, EDISON, EGI-Foundation, NL
  • Hugh Shanahan, Royal Holloway University, UK
  • Freyja van den Boom, FutureTDM,
  • Leighton Christiansen, National Transportation Library, US
  • Natasha Simons, Australian National Data Service, AU
  • Vicky Lucas, Institute for Environmental Analytics, UK
  • Kathrin Beck,
  • Christopher Jung,
  • Pete Pascuzzi, Purdue University Libraries, US

Others interested in participating in a WG are:

  • Prof Jeremy Frey, Chemistry, University of Southampton
  • Edit Herczog
  • Dr Liz Lyon, Visiting Professor, School of Information Sciences (iSchool), University of Pittsburgh

Working Group Chairs:

Co-chairs: Steve Brewer (University of Southampton, EDISON project), Małgorzata Krakowian (EGI Foundation, EDISON project)

We are keen to expand to 4 co-chairs once up and running. We have had interest from a number of other RDA members from regions beyond Europe, but none so far have been able to commit to a co-chair role due to existing demands on their time. Please do get in touch if interested in taking on this role.

Both co-chairs are experienced and qualified project managers and have good experience of the RDA ways of working having attended a number of previous Plenaries over the last few years.

  • Vicky Lucas's picture

    Author: Vicky Lucas

    Date: 29 Jan, 2017

    I agree with the activities, deliverables and adoption plan.

    I work for a university group developing data science activities as applied to environmental data, I am the training manager and develop courses relevant to industry and academia in topics ranging from best practice software development to data visualization.  I am also the Human Dimensions Champion of the Belmont Forum.  The Belmont Forum is a group of the world's major and emerging funders of global environmental change research, seeking to accelerate delivery of research by aligning resources.  As the Human Dimensions Champion I am pursuing developing certification of the skills relevant to data intensive research; I see that this working group has very relevant aims.

    I expect to play an active role in this working group and fully support the initiative, it feels wholly relevant and timely.

  • Birger Jerlehag's picture

    Author: Birger Jerlehag

    Date: 08 Feb, 2017

    Hi guys,

    I'm currently working in Task 5.3 called ' Towards an international curriculum and professional qualifications in digital data services for the social sciences' for the CESSDA ERIC (see link)

    http://cessdasaw.eu/wp-5-strengthening-and-widening-through-global-engagement/

    We base our work to some extent on resources both from the Edu and training IG and EDISON but also on other more SSH community based sources

    I see a lot of synergetic effects for us in liasing in some way with each other. I'll attend your break-out in Barcelona if you get a slot, otherwise we can schedule something else on site.

    Best

    Birger

  • Lynn Yarmey's picture

    Author: Lynn Yarmey

    Date: 13 Mar, 2017

    Many thanks Vicky and Birger for your comments!  I will ensure these are included in the full review process as TAB consolidates feedback from the community.

     

    Sincere appreciation,
    Lynn

    Secretariat Liaison to TAB

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