Professionalising data stewardship: challenges and developments

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27 Jul 2020
Group(s) submitting the application: 
Meeting objectives: 

During this meeting we will officially launch this initiative as a formal Interest Group. During the meeting, we will explain the planned activities for the first 12 months:

  • Launch the official RDA Interest Group.

  • Prioritise topics and define deliverables. 

  • Formalise task groups, and start working (and reporting) on prospective new outcomes.

  • Initiate the organisation of webinars to promote the work of the Interest Group.

  • Communicate and align with various stakeholder groups, initiatives and projects within and outside the RDA, thus fostering synergies on professionalising data stewardship.

We will focus on the following challenges (identified at P14 and P15): 

  • A business case for data stewardship

  • Data stewardship terminology

  • The integration of data stewardship across an organisation

  • Job profiles for data stewards

  • Training for data stewards

  • Career tracks for data stewards

  • Networking and knowledge exchange

  • Certification

The expected output will be:

  • A concrete plan of action – with a clear division of tasks and commitment of the community – to contribute to solving the identified challenges in professionalising data stewardship.

Meeting agenda: 


Session: Monday, 9 November 2020, 5:00 - 6:30 PM UTC

Link to shared notes
Link to our the PDS IG webpage and slack channel


(In minutes from the start)
0 - 10        1. Introduction to the session
10 - 30      2. Update: task groups and their challenges
30 - 75      3. Discussion: interdependencies and priority
75 - 90      4. Next steps and closure

Target Audience: 

This Interest Group brings together those interested in professionalising data stewardship. More specifically, this session will be of interest to those who wish to actively engage with each other to contribute to current discussions, initiatives and projects that are tackling challenges in professionalising data stewardship.

This may be current or future data stewards, but we also actively reach out to people in the broader data professional community, including data librarians, data managers, data scientists, data archivists, IT staff, research support staff, policy makers, funders, and managers and executives.

This explicitly includes students and researchers, potentially being our future data stewards.

Group chair serving as contact person: 
Brief introduction describing the activities and scope of the group: 

Data stewardship and data management skills are essential in research. The lack of consensus on the responsibilities, knowledge, skills, and value of data stewards leads to confusion about the role and hampers building adequate data steward capacity. To our knowledge, a coherent approach and dedicated training for data stewardship on the (inter)national level is lacking as well. This, combined with scarce resources for data stewardship at many institutions, limits vital developments such as defining recruitment procedures and career paths for current and future data stewards.

Eight challenges are identified and will be regularly discussed and updated: a business case for data stewardship, data stewardship terminology, the integration of data stewardship across an organisation, job profiles for data stewards, training for data stewards, career tracks for data stewards, networking and knowledge exchange, and certification. Separate task groups will be formed to work on related deliverables and people will work on these between plenary sessions. These task groups will be coordinated by the co-chairs of the Interest Group. In addition, the group will organise regular webinars to stimulate discussion and practice exchange.

The group will meet virtually, and if possible, in person at RDA Plenaries to exchange new ideas and tactics for facilitating professionalising data stewardship, and also to update each other on the progress of task groups working on specific deliverables. Plenary meetings will also be used as an opportunity to recruit and engage with new members. Between Plenaries, the group will communicate through the formal RDA Interest Group page (posts and events) and Slack.

Short Group Status: 

At the 14th RDA Plenary, a Birds of a Feather session was organised on professionalising data stewardship, with over 60 participants. Eight challenges were identified and discussed: a business case for data stewardship, data stewardship terminology, the integration of data stewardship across an organisation, job profiles for data stewards, training for data stewards, career tracks for data stewards, networking and knowledge exchange, and certification. This was followed by another Birds of a Feather session at the 15th RDA Virtual Plenary, which was attended by more than 100 participants, who reiterated their interest in these topics.

Against this background, this Interest Group is about to get formally endorsed and will focus on sharing good practices, initiatives, and projects that could help research organisations in professionalising data stewardship. It thus aims to stimulate collaboration within and outside the RDA community. We expect that the activities of this Interest Group will help current and future data stewards as well as the organisations that incorporate, facilitate and require data stewardship, both within and across disciplines. This aligns with the grass-roots, inclusive approach of the RDA, and with its mission to build bridges, exchange views, collaborate on relevant topics, and tackle current hurdles experienced by the international research data community.

Type of Meeting: 
Informative meeting
Avoid conflict with the following group (1): 
Avoid conflict with the following group (2): 
Meeting presenters: 
Mijke Jetten, Yan Wang, Varsha Khodiyar, Debora Drucker