Use case

Data Stewardship

Under the influence of Open Science developments, the new Code of Conduct for Research Integrity, global academic discussions on FAIR data, funder requirements and the introduction of a new data policy at Wageningen University & Research (WUR), researchers are increasingly being requested to perform safe and sustainable management of their research data. At the start of projects Data Management Plans need to be made, during research prescribed safe data storage needs to be used and after research data need to be archived and registered. New developments at WUR are foreseen in the near future in data sharing procedures.

Problem statement / motivation

Although WUR provides a functional Data Desk (at the Wageningen Data Competence Center (WDCC) ) with a well-trained data support unit from the Library, IT and Legal, this support unit cannot always deliver the domain specific support required. With the ambition of WUR, as presented in the strategic plan 2019-2022, to focus on FAIR data handling and support for the National Plan Open Science, structural and domain specific data support embedded within the different research groups will be urgently necessary to remain efficient as a leading scientific institution. 

Data Management advice, services and solutions are customized, and for being able to deliver this customization (with generic principles and frameworks) domain-specific knowledge is required. From this need a new Data Management role emerges: the role of Data Steward. This project aimed to develop a proposal on the role of Data Steward within WUR and on how this role can contribute to a better implementation of the Data Management Policy (applicable to the different WUR domains).

Solution / approach

The following activities have been performed:
• created a network of (potential) WUR Data Stewards (DataStewards@WUR)
o organized network meetings for DataStewards@WUR
o created an  intranetgroup for communication (Data@WUR)
• compiled an internal report about data stewardship within the WUR in (inter-) national perspective, including:
o a lists of tasks and responsibilities which are part of Data Stewardship
o advice to the Steering group Wageningen Data Competence Center on the role of Data Stewards and the time and training needed
• participation in the National Taskgroup Data Stewardship of the LCRDM (Landelijk Coordinatiepunt RDM), and co-author of the final report “Data Stewardship on  the map”: DOI 10.5281/zenodo.2642066

(Expected) impact of the approach

With the implementation of the Data Stewardship role WUR can become more effective in Data Management tasks and realization of the FAIR ambitions.

This is supported by the WDCC, which acts as the one stop shop for all questions on data management. However, the WDCC has direct lines with the researchers and data stewards on the operational and tactical side and with the Dean of Research, and management layers on the tactic and strategic side. WDCC coordinates the support unit with staff members from the Information Technology, Library, Data Management and Legal.

Next steps

The focus of the current WUR data policy is on the F and the A of the FAIR principles. Thus, the proposed role of Data Steward includes mainly the facilitation of these principles, with tasks from Data Management Planning to Archiving. New developments will certainly influence the tasks of the Data Stewards. We name the two most important ones:
1. Data sharing guidelines
Currently a working group, installed by the Rector, is working on guidelines for Data Sharing. The drivers for this working group are for example the opportunity that the WDCC has created for more collaboration on data intensive research, or the implementation of an Open Science Road Map within WUR. Both developments require WUR to think about how data can be shared.
2. Linked data and data exchange
The WDCC coordinates, through KennisBasis and Investment programs, projects which develop concepts and standards for linked (open) data and data exchange (and machine learning etc.). The results of these research programs will deliver new insights on data opportunities.

More information

Paulien Adamse or Jacquelijn Ringersma or