CODATA-RDA Schools for Research Data Science group updates and new challenges

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08 Aug 2021
Meeting objectives: 
  • Provide an introduction to the schools and present the recent updates of the working groups (WG): Curriculum Evolution, Sustainability (Funding), Train-the-Trainer, Communication and External Messaging , Alumni Activities, Events in Africa and Europe, Events in the Americas, and Events in Asia and Australasia. We would like to collect inputs and ideas from the community for the working groups.

  • Receive the community’s feedback on the new format of hybrid (off and online) school planned to start at the beginning of September and will spawn for 10 weeks and will be composed of self-paced and online live sessions.

Meeting agenda: 

Collaborative session notes:


  • Introduction and Session Format Review (10’)

  • WG Updates and Brainstorming

    • WG Updates (20’)

    • Brainstorming Session (20’)

  • New Online School Format Discussion

    • Review School Format (5')

    • Brainstormming and Discussion (35')  

Target Audience: 
  • All of RDA interested in Education and Outreach

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

The Interest Group works to grow a community of instructors that participate in the Schools for Research Data Science (SRDS) for Early Career Researchers (ECRs). In particular, the SRDS offers a model for providing that cohort with a set of foundational skills for processing, analyzing, managing, and visualizing research data. The SRDS are primarily aimed at ECRs from Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs), and the first of these Schools ran at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics (ICTP), Trieste, Italy, in August 2016. 

In August of 2020 the group organized the fifth annual - and first virtual - Trieste event focused on training future instructors (graduate students, faculty, and research institution staff), showing the most relevant aspects of teaching each of the curriculum components as well as the key aspects of organizing a school. 

For this school, we focused on alumni and our aim was to extend and enrich their understanding of the school curriculum and teaching approaches to facilitate them being future instructors. This was the 11th school and at the end of this edition, approximately 400 students had completed the curriculum.

In May 2021 the group helped organize the CODATA-RDA School of Research Data Science - South Africa together with University of Pretoria, North-West University, Conquest Analytics and Training, SADiLaR, University of Cape Town, NeDICC, and DIRISA. This school adopted an innovative hybrid format, at which the students would gain access to recorded materials (lectures and exercises) that they could watch and follow at their own pace. Also, for each topic covered by the school, we hosted 2 live sessions that the participants had to attend and during which we posed ethical questions and also a Q&A session regarding the offline lecture and exercises materials.

We’ve decided to run a second school using the same format as the South African one. This will be our second Trieste virtual school ( that is scheduled to happen from September 6th to November 5th 2021. 

The session at RDA P18 will focus on two topics: the update of our current working groups and a discussion regarding the format proposed for the second Trieste virtual school. 

Short Group Status: 

The initiative is continuing with support and engagement from both CODATA and RDA. We have achieved the status of Recognised and Endorsed. Up to this point, the group has had several financial contributions from several organizations (International Centre for Theoretical Physics - ICTP, FAIRsFAIR, RDA/US, among others) that helped with hosting the events and covering most of their costs. Still, we are looking for ways to ensure that the initiative reaches long term financial independence. That would mean being able to do more long term planning as well as organizing schools in other places that have a deficit for this type of training.

On top of running the full curriculum school, we have also run, with support from the EU network FAIRsFAIR, two online events for Data Stewards at the University of Manchester and UNA in Costa Rica. More events are planned in 2021 in Botswana and European locations.

Secondary to this issue is the need for an instructor training model that allows for the alumni to get involved with the schools and be able to replicate them in their home countries. This will help to fulfil the IG’s goal of creating a network of schools.

Type of Meeting: 
Working meeting