RDA Professionalising Data Stewardship - What does a career track for data stewards look like?

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RDA Professionalising Data Stewardship - What does a career track for data stewards look like?

By Bridget Walker

Professionalising Data Stewardship IG

Group co-chairsMijke JettenRomain DAVID, Yan Wang, Biru Zhou, Liise Lehtsalu 

Supporting Output title: RDA Professionalising Data Stewardship - What does a career track for data stewards look like?

Authors: Elizabeth Newbold, Yan Wang, Liise Lehtsalu, Biru Zhou, Valerie McCutcheon

Impact: The report “What does a career track for data stewards look like?” provides an initial discussion of the results of the RDA IG Professionalising Data Stewardship career tracks survey completed in 2022. The survey asked respondents who self-identified as performing data stewardship roles about their job titles, educational background, match between educational background and area of professional activity, contract types, as well as future career perspectives. The report is of value to international and national projects and initiatives seeking to define and develop the professional role of data stewards as well as to organizations employing data stewards that seek to define career progression pathways for data stewards and better job satisfaction and job security of data stewards. The report is also of value to the emerging communities of data stewards because it provides evidence base for understanding which professionals already fulfill data stewardship roles and how these professionals perceive their career paths.


UN Sustainable Development Goals: SDG9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure), SDG 16 (Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions)

DOI: 10.15497/RDA00102

Citation: Newbold, E., Wang, Y., Lehtsalu, L., Zhou, B., & McCutcheon, V. (2023). RDA Professionalising Data Stewardship - what does a career track for data stewards look like? (Version 1.0). Research Data Alliance. https://doi.org/10.15497/RDA00102



The RDA Professionalising Data Stewardship Interest Group (RDA PDS IG) conducted a survey as part of a programme of work to better understand the current and future perspectives of people who were/are working as Data Stewards or similar Research Data Management (RDM) roles. This is the preliminary report on the survey results.

The premise for the survey and work of the RDA PDSIG is that Research Data Management professionals, like Data Stewards, play an increasingly vital role in research practices. However, such a role has not been formally or consistently recognised as a profession in the academic system. In order to capture a wide range of participants, Data Stewards were defined in the survey as “Data Stewards aim at guaranteeing that data is appropriately treated at all stages of the research cycle (i.e., design, collection, processing, analysis, preservation, data sharing and reuse)”, even though we acknowledge that the definitions of data stewardship may vary according to different research context and research settings.


Data Availability

The underlying survey data is available in Zenodo: 

Lehtsalu, L., McCutcheon, V., Newbold, E., Wang, Y., & Zhou, B. (2023). Research Data Alliance Interest Group Professionalising Data Stewardship Career Tracks Survey Dataset [Data set]. Zenodo. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.10117910



Output Status: 
RDA Supporting Outputs
Review period start: 
Wednesday, 29 November, 2023 to Saturday, 30 December, 2023
Group content visibility: 
Use group defaults
Primary WG Focus / Output focus: 
Domain Agnostic: 
Domain Agnostic
  • Kristina Hettne's picture

    Author: Kristina Hettne

    Date: 04 Dec, 2023

    Great to see the study published and get a global view on some of the ideas around data stewardship. Do you think it would be possible to list a few points of advice for people in management roles who are looking to support data stewards in their career or hire a new data steward? 

  • Liise Lehtsalu's picture

    Author: Liise Lehtsalu

    Date: 08 Jan, 2024

    Hi Kristina,

    Thank you for your comment! Your suggestion about recommendations for people in management roles is spot on. It is beyond the remit of this particular study but we consider developing such recommendations as part of our future work, also because this aligns very well with the dual focus of the IG (data stewardship services development AND data steward career tracks). Thank you again for your very valuable input!


    Kind regards,

    Liise Lehtsalu 

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