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Cross-community efforts in building services and professions for Data Stewards

13 FEB 2024

Collaborative session notes

Group(s) submitting the application: 

Professionalising Data Stewardship IG

Meeting objectives: 

During the past years, the Professionalising Data Stewardship Interest Group (RDA PDS IG) has identified two main themes to steer future direction, namely Data Stewardship as a Service and Data Stewardship as a Profession. Professionalising the education and career paths of data stewards, as well as the organisational data stewardship services, requires a systematic approach (Parton et al., 2023). The impact of data stewardship depends on country, culture, languages and institutional practices and adoptions. We consider it crucial to further strengthen the connections with other RDA groups and international initiatives and expand the IG’s network for global relevance on these topics, and therefore propose this as our main focus for our P22 session.  

We recognize that data stewardship, both as a Service as well as a Profession, is highly multifaceted and both the service and the profession are shaped by – and shape – activities, interests, guidelines etc. in the research data sphere. For this reason, following the IG updates, during our session, we will explicitly invite other relevant RDA IG/WG with diverse and inclusive international members and external groups (e.g. EOSC task force on professionalising data stewardship, stakeholders of already existing Competence Centers, Horizon Europe Skills4EOSC project stakeholders) to join the session to give a short pitch of their activities and overlaps with the PDS IG. We have extended the invitation to participate and so far received confirmations from the following RDA IG/WGs: 

The main objectives of the meeting are:

  1. Explore connections and overlaps between the RDA PDS IG and other relevant RDA IGs/WGs
  2. Identify the key topics of shared interest between RDA PDS IG and relevant other RDA IGs/WGs 
  3. Identify concrete possibilities for collaboration between RDA PDS IG and relevant other RDA IGs/WG to support the advancement of the key topics of interest we identify. 

We will also update the work from the three most active IG TGs, namely on: 

Meeting agenda: 

5 minOpening and introduction
IG history 
15 minIG task groups update 
Models TG
Career Tracks TGNetwork TG
Representative TG co-chairs
30 minPitches from the community (invited + spontaneous)
Engaging Researchers with Data IG
Research Data Architectures in Research Institutions IG
Education and Training on Handling of Research Data IG
Libraries for Research Data IG
Data policy standardisation and implementation IG
More spontaneous pitches from session participants
40 min Discussion and Closing Participants
Total: 90mins

Target Audience: 

This Interest Group brings together those interested in professionalising data stewardship and who are actively developing data stewardship services, organisational models, RDM professional networks and creating career tracks. For P22, one of our main audiences are representatives from related IG that benefit for their aims from collaboration with our IG on the models, roles, careers and networks of data stewards.

This session is relevant to administrators, funders and policy-makers interested in fostering data stewardship practices and establishing professional roles for research data management at an institutional and national level, those managing or developing data stewardship programs, scholars of data stewardship, and research data stewards. 

This session may also be of interest to the broader data professional community, including data librarians, data managers, data scientists, data archivists, ICT professionals, research support staff, managers and executives. 

Past, current and future data stewards are explicitly invited to attend.

Group chair serving as contact person: 

Liise Lehtsalu

Brief introduction describing the activities and scope of the group: 

Overview: Data stewardship and data management are essential research skills. The lack of consensus on the responsibilities, knowledge, skills, and value of data stewards leads to confusion about how data stewardship complements data management. Unclear professional standards and models for data stewardship also hamper the development of a trained, data steward workforce for research institutions. A shared body of knowledge (BOK) for data stewardship professionals has yet to emerge, although dedicated trainings for data stewards are occuring. The various types of data stewardship models are not yet well understood, nor are the unique needs of data stewards as compared to data managers and data privacy professionals who have access to global community supported BOKs, professional networks, and events through associations such as DAMA-I and the IAPP.  

Scope: With scarce resources to support data stewardship at many institutions, this RDA Interest Group aims to host discussions, support inter-agency collaboration, and foster global teams developing resources that aid in the development, recruitment, and training of data stewards.

Activity History: After BoF sessions at P14, P15, the RDA PDS IG was formally endorsed just after VP16. From 2016-2021, eight areas of interest were identified and advanced by IG members. Progress made in each area varied based on volunteer capacity, interest, and commitment. Initial topics of interest included: 1) a business case for data stewardship, 2) data stewardship terminology, 3) the integration of data stewardship across an organisation, 4) data steward job profiles, 5) training, 6) career tracks, 7) networking and knowledge exchange, and 8) certification. In 2022, the IG refocused effort on a few active task groups and identified 2 themes to steer the future direction: Data Stewardship as a Service and Data Stewardship as a Profession. 

Task group activity occurs between plenaries with varying success depending on the capacity of task team members. Several IG outputs have been recognized as RDA outputs, including the survey report and output data on Current Models of Data StewardshipData Stewardship Landscape Initial ReportData Stewardship Landscape Report Resource Matrix and the What Does a Career Track for Data Stewards Look Like report. 

IG Communications and Engagement: Active group leads and RDA PDS IG Co-Chairs meet regularly for progress updates and plenary session planning. Plenary meetings will continue to allow for new members to join. Between Plenaries, RDA PDS IG Co-Chairs communicate updates to the public through the RDA Interest Group webpage posts and events ( Regular community-wide communications occur in the open RDA PDS IG Slack community and its sub-channels for focused work efforts ( Since beginning 2023, monthly IG-wide meetings have been organised by co-chairs to strengthen community communication. Knowledge sharing also is encouraged through a developing RDA PDS IG Zenodo Community ( 

Short Group Status: 

The IG was formally endorsed just after VP16 and remains an active IG. In recognition of the volunteer commitment necessary to deliver the objectives of the IG, and waxing and waning volunteer engagement, in 2022 the RDA PDS IG Co-Chairs refocused effort on a few task groups. At the moment, the active teams include: terminology for data stewardship, data stewardship models, data stewardship career tracks and data steward network. To further connect the work from different teams, the IG identified two themes to steer the future direction of the group: Data Stewardship as a Service and Data Stewardship as a Profession. The themes will be introduced at P22 and active teams will give an update on their status and next plan.

Activities since the last Plenary:

The task group Career Track completed the initial report on the data steward career track community survey. The survey data and the report have been published as RDA outputs. 

The task group Models defined the data stewardship services use case databank as its next objective.   

The task group Networking and Knowledge Exchange has been co-opted and revitalised as a space where representatives of established RDM/Data Steward Networks, as well as new initiatives and interested individuals can share, collaborate and seek and offer support for development and sustainability of networks. A steering committee is in place to further develop the group.

Type of Meeting: 

Working meeting

Additional links to informative material: 

Avoid conflict with the following group (1): 

Engaging Researchers with Data IG

Avoid conflict with the following group (2): 

Education and Training on Handling of Research Data IG

Meeting presenters: 

Liise Lehtsalu, Mijke Jetten, Yan Wang, Romain David, Mikala Narlock

Are you willing to host a second, repeat, session at a different time zone?: