Towards Data Stewardship in ELIXIR: Training & Portal

Scientists have been managing data ever since they collected specimens and shared results of their study with their peers. The advent of the digital computer has allowed for data acquisition in unprecedented amounts to the extent that the organisational task of data management (DM) has become a core activity. Also, external pressure is rising on researchers in general to make sure their experiments are reproducible and that the resulting data is accessible and reusable for others for a longer time (“data stewardship”, DS). This pressure puts even higher demands on the data management practice. Data management and stewardship plans will be a prerequisite for most (public) funding soon. However, data management and data stewardship are not everyday practice for researchers and they are considered more of an administrative task rather than a contribution to proper research.

The goal of this implementation study is to kick-start coherent DM/DS activities in ELIXIR and formulate and implement first solutions for good DM/DS in ELIXIR. Currently, there are two main activities in this project, namely to develop and deliver training in DM/DS, as well as to build an infrastructure component (portal or wizard) to support good DM/DS. These two parts will use each other’s results but be executed as separate and complementary projects. More investments are needed after this period to reach a broader audience and feedback experience. DM/DS methods particularly for larger research projects for instance require more structural planning and are not in the scope of this Implementation Study.

The two main target audiences for both of these activities are life science researchers who have to make DS plans on the one hand, and data stewards, curators, data managers and other experts in data handling on the other hand. In addition, members of these audiences who are involved in ELIXIR will be asked to actively contribute and help assemble and review the information for the training events, as well as the content of the portal.

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