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UCC Library News

Research Data Stewardship in UCC

by Mary Keane on 2021-08-30T12:32:00+01:00 | Comments

The Research Data Service in UCC Library is conducting a survey on Research Data Stewardship in UCC. The survey is open until Friday the 17th of September. If you are involved in research in any capacity, as a researcher but also those in technical or administrative roles we encouraged to participate. The link to the survey can be found at the end of this document.

This survey aims to help us gain an understanding of research data stewardship activities in UCC, the scope of those activities, identify any gaps in current resources and skills and work out where the Research Data Service fits with related roles and services. We also hope this activity will also help with the development of a data stewardship network across UCC for support, skills sharing, peer learning and the development of tailored skills development programs within UCC. It will also provide an evidence base to inform the model UCC should adopt in meeting its future research data requirements.

Funders and publishers increasingly require researchers to formally manage their data and encourage or mandate FAIR and/or Open Data outputs. Both the National and European Codes of Research Conduct recognise that data management is central to research integrity and the quality and trustworthiness of research outputs across all disciplines. Research infrastructures in Europe are currently in a phase of development with continued expansion of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) and related services. Successive reports internationally (Realising the EOSC, 2016, Turning FAIR into a Reality, 2018) and our own recently compiled National Landscape Report (NORF, 2021) highlight a resource and skills gap in meeting the expectations and potential of FAIR research data, and related research infrastructures. Specifically, in relation to FAIR and Open Data, a set of skills, competencies, and responsibilities have been identified and grouped together under the umbrella of a new “Research Data Steward” role. Research data stewardship encompasses all the various tasks and responsibilities that relate to research data management throughout the entire research lifecycle. The role of data steward is not universally defined yet and is influenced by the context and the needs of the researcher or unit.

Across Europe, Research Performing Organisations are taking concrete steps to address this gap, for example by appointing new data steward positions or by re-focusing existing institutional skills and supports into a designated competency centres for research data supports. TU Delft is an exemplar where eight newly established embedded data stewards, with domain expertise in the relevant faculty, complement a similar number of support staff based in central services such as the Library and IT Services.

In UCC the Research Data Service provides a range of data stewardship supports to the research community from advisory to tailored training. The Research Data Service and Research Data Coordinator work closely with related services and roles to provide holistic advice on research data management to the UCC research community. The Clinical Research Facility–Cork has also developed a data stewardship service which is available on a consultancy basis to funded human focused research projects. But the ask of researchers in terms of funder mandated data management plans and commitments to FAIR and Open Data continues to increase. Certainly, in the case of the Research Data Service full capacity is fast approaching. So as funders embed Open Science and by extension data management FAIR and Open Data more firmly in there polices and requirements and if we cannot meet researchers increasingly complex needs for research data stewardship support, there is a risk that this will impact on the competitiveness of our funding applications and the reach, impact and quality of our research outputs.

We know that there are those engaged in research data stewardship activities throughout UCC although this may not be reflected in their job title. Those who engage in research data stewardship activities do not always identify as Data Stewards but contribute significantly to the data management lifecycle associated with research projects. Each stage of a research project can have specialist data stewardship requirements, these tasks are performed by a people in a range of roles and positions including researchers, project managers, data managers, statisticians and data analysts, research assistants, technicians, systems administrators, or research software engineers to name but a few. To develop a holistic and coordinated approach data stewardship and research data management we need to hear from the whole research ecosystem, those engaged in research and those facilitating it.

If you are involved in research in any capacity, please consider completing our survey, RDS in UCC Survey

This short presentation gives a brief overview of the context, purpose and aims of our survey Research Data Stewardship in UCC [video 5:19]


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