Moving Towards Professionalising Data Stewardship

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05 Aug 2021
Group(s) submitting the application: 
Meeting objectives: 


Since the VP16 launch of the Interest Group, multiple topics and work packages have emerged from the IG based on participant prioritisation. Task groups have formalized, and have drafted a first version of deliverables for a business case for data stewardship, data stewardship terminology and data stewardship organisational models (VP17). In this session, we invite the RDA community to learn and comment on the draft deliverables in progress. The themes and challenges identified at P14 and P15, prioritised at VP16 and advanced by the community at VP17 are maturing (see relevant links to additional information below) and help bring together efforts from other PDS IG task groups as well (such as job profiles, training, career tracks, networking & knowledge exchange, and certification).


In this session (VP18), we will focus on aligning the deliverables of task groups #1 (business case for data stewardship), #2 (data stewardship terminology), #3 (data stewardship organisational models) and #5 (training), and inviting community input on new IG topics and challenges that are not yet being  addressed.

Meeting agenda: 

Collaborative session notes:


  • Welcome, introduction to Co-Chairs and Task Group Leads (5 min)

  • IG history and roadmap for the next phase of the IG (5 min)

  • Task group presentations (5 - 10 minute each)

    • Task Group #1: Business Case for Data Stewards

    • Task Group #2: Data stewardship terminology 

    • Task Group #3: Organizational Models

    • Task team #5: Training 

  • Discussions on roadmap to next phase and TGs 1,2,3 and 5 work (20 min)

  • Professionalising data stewardship challenges not yet being addressed (10 min)

  • Retrospective from our TAB liaison : Christina Kirkpatrick (5 min)

  • Ways to stay engaged - closure (5 min)


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.
They 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 the research process. 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 community ( 

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 was formally endorsed just after VP16, and have been focusing 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: 
Working meeting
Avoid conflict with the following group (1): 
Avoid conflict with the following group (2): 
Meeting presenters: 
Task Group Leaders - see agenda