Data stewardship at WUR

To help realise the WUR data policy, the data stewardship program came into effect in 2018. Part of this program was to ensure that 0.1 FTE per research group was established to help with general data management tasks.


By appointing so-called “embedded data stewards” within chair groups and business units, (discipline-specific) support and advise about research data management can be provided to researchers throughout the research cycle. The implementation of data stewardship improves research data management at WUR, optimising the (re)usability and reproducibility of research, and the realisation of FAIR ambitions. As such, data stewards play a key role in the transition to Open Science.

Tasks of the data steward are:

  • Planning research phase

    • communicates the WUR data policy to the members of the group
    • creates awareness of the ‘why’ and ‘how’ of the data policy
    • initiates and creates a group data management protocol in line with the WUR data policy and together with group management
    • ensures that the data management protocol is up to date
    • shares the data management protocol with every new employee
    • if being asked by a researcher or PhD candidate, helps with setting up their data management plan for projects and/or connects researchers with the Data Desk
  • During research phase

  • Finishing research phase

    • supports researchers with preserving research data for a minimum of 10 years according to the WUR data policy
    • directs researchers towards the archiving services of the Data Desk
    • informs (where to find information) about data and software licences
    • directs researchers to the Data Desk for registration of archived data sets according to the WUR data policy

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a data steward?

A data steward is the direct point of contact for questions related to Research Data Management within a chair group, business unit or team. The data steward gives (domain specific) advice and operational support and forms the bridge between researchers and generic support (WUR Library and WDCC). A data steward's domain specific knowledge enables to customize Data Management advice, services and solutions (based on generic principles and frameworks). This makes data support easily available for everyone.

How do I get in touch with the data steward within my chair group or business unit?

See the data steward list or send an email to the WUR Data Desk, which will get you in touch with the data steward(s) within your chair group or business unit. You can also ask your chair group leader or business unit manager.

Who is the coordinating data steward of my Science Group?

Each Science Group has a Coordinating data steward (see here an overview), who is responsible for implementing data stewardship on Science Group level.

I am new to the role of data steward, where do I start?

The first step is to contact the Data Desk by simply sending an email. The Data Desk adds your name to the data steward mailing list and will invite you to join the intranet-group for data stewards. This is a place where data stewards can meet each other to adopt research data management (best) practices, find upcoming workshops and events, identify opportunities and gaps, and provide feedback on infra and support services.

For more information please have a look at the onboarding sheet for WUR data stewards DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.7233727.

What is the difference between a data steward and a data manager?

There are many different terminologies used for people working with data in a supporting role (data steward, data consultant, data engineer, data scientist, data librarian, data custodian, data curator, data manager, data scientist, etc.). Generally, a data manager is someone that does the same thing as a WUR data steward but with practical hands-on support / tasks in data management (storing data, automating processes, designing workflows, curating data, checking data quality, etc.). This is not to be confused with the Yoda storage system rights ‘data manager’. These are a type of system rights that allow someone to create new research groups, have group manager rights on those groups, and review / approve data for the Yoda Vault or publication.

How much time do I have to spend as a data steward?

We estimate that the time investment will be 0.1 fte per 30 researchers. This time is being used to, e.g., gain knowledge on Research Data Management (e.g. by attending workshops and events), give advice to researchers (e.g. on writing a Data Management Plan), implement the data policy (e.g. setting up a Data Management Protocol on group level), connect researchers to local support staff or generic support.

Is the data steward responsible for proper research data management within his/her chair group or business unit?

Initially, a researcher is responsible for managing his or her ‘own’ data properly. The final responsible person within a chair group or business unit is the chair holder or business unit manager, respectively. A data steward is the direct point of contact for support and advice on Research Data Management practices within the chair group or business unit.

Where can I find the WUR data policy?

The WUR data policy can be found here.