Data Stewardship at TU Delft – 2020 Report

Authors (listed in alphabetical order by the first name): Esther Plomp, Heather Andrews, Jeff Love, Kees den Heijer, Nicolas Dintzner, Santosh Ilamparuthi, Yan Wang, Yasemin Turkyilmaz-van der Velden

A special year for TUD data stewards

2020 has passed in a very special way for many people, the same for the TUD data stewards team. It was an important year with various types of changes for the data stewardship and the team. This is the moment we look back at what we have done during the year, and acknowledge our progress and achievement as a team.

Programme transition towards sustainability

The pilot program of data stewardship approached its completion at the end of 2020. Throughout the year, the positions of data stewards have been transforming from being funded by the central library to being funded by the individual faculties. Most faculties have made the positions permanent and the others are in the process towards the same setting. This is really a great achievement and an important step for the sustainable development of the data stewardship at TU Delft.

Transition within the team

The team experienced a transition period in the middle of the year. The former coordinator Marta Teperek was promoted to become the head of TU Delft Library research data services and Yan Wang, the former data steward of the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, took over the task of coordination. This transition was smooth thanks to the continuous support from Marta and the fact that Yan was already a member of the team. More importantly, the team has become mature after years’ of working together: data stewards can independently handle data management demands at faculties and the team is able to self-manage in a very collaborative manner.

Impact of the pandemic

We can not omit the impact of the COVID pandemic on our work and life. Since mid March 2020, we switched to the mode of working from home. All the regular activities, like team meetings, RDM consultations, training and events, were forced to take place online. The team adapted to the situation quickly, not just changing the ways of working, but also actively experimented how to improve working remotely for different occasions. It was challenging without seeing each other in person, but the team managed to keep the spirits in the (continuous) hard time.

Team achievements across all faculties

Despite the drastic change in the ways of working and team dynamics, it was still a fruitful and productive year for the data stewards both as a team and individually. 

As a team, we have made significant progress on the following activities across all eight faculties. 

Data management consultation

  • The most direct outcome of our work is reflected in the consultations provided to researchers. In total the team supported more than 800 requests from researchers on data management plans and other data management issues. This has been almost doubled compared to the support provided in the previous year. 

Trainings & Education

  • Faculty-level research data management training has been further established and conducted by data stewards. According to specific faculty needs, such as the number of PhDs, the demands of data management activities etc., data stewards collaborate with the faculty graduate schools or departments to provide customized training support for all researchers and some master or bachelor programs. Some faculties have made such training compulsory for PhD students and provide it on a regular basis. 
  • We have also expanded the training support at the university level and beyond. In addition to the regular software carpentry workshops, some data stewards also provided disciplinary workshops, including the genomic data carpentry workshop, code refinery workshop, and social science data carpentry workshop. Some of these workshops were collaborated with other institutions and the data stewards played important roles in instruction and coordination. 

Policy & Strategy

  • Another structural impact of data stewardship is the faculty data management policies. Till early 2021, all faculties have approved the data management policies. All the data stewards have been working on implementing the policies or providing guidance into practical daily research activities according to faculty specific situations.  

Besides the above common achievements shared by the whole team, each data steward also provided extensive faculty specific support and combined their disciplinary needs into research or personal development.

Faculty of Aerospace Engineering

Disciplinary RDM support

  • Provided awareness raising and disciplinary RDM guidance for projects like ReMAP and STEP4WIND on research deliverables, project data security and publishing. 
  • Assisted design and development of ASCM Code Initiative for students and researchers (on-going pilot). 
  • Assisted establishing collaboration between 4TU.ResearchData with AIAA Aeroelastic Community (on-going).
  • Assisted AE Project Support Team (PST-AE) sessions 
  • to establish better communication and more effective workflows between the contract managers, finance team, project support and Data Steward.

Event and Community engagement

  • Intensified the engagement of researchers in the Open Science community with a doubled number of data champions from the faculty. 
  • Continuous outreach to new staff members with customized RDM info package.
  • Invited to provide training sessions and knowledge exchange on RDM, data/code archiving and publishing with 3 universities in Costa Rica, Spain and Austria. 
  • Invited speaker for INOS project.  


  • Attended SURFsara training (HPC and supercomputer infrastructure).

Research and Publication

  • Faculty Open Access publishing statistics analysis. 

Faculty of Applied Sciences

Disciplinary RDM support

  • Started monthly PhD newsletters at the faculty
  • Joined the Faculty Graduate School on their tours across the departments
  • Member of a cross-TU Delft working group (involving the Library and ICT) about Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELN)s 

Event and Community engagement

  • Part of the Think Tank of TU Delft OPEN publishing
  • Invited to provide Research Data Management training to Graz University of Technology staff, Austria.
  • Co-organised the 10th anniversary commemoration and relaunch of 4TU.ResearchData
  • Co-chair of RDA group: Physical Samples and Collections in the Research Data Ecosystem IG
  • Invited speaker at 8 (international) events, presented 3 posters and attended over 22 (international) events
  • Program committee member of the Open Science Festival
  • Organised one of the Data Steward Interest Group Meetings and played an active role in these meetings/ the Slack channel.
  • (Co)authored 12 blog posts on Open Working


Research and Publication

Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment

Disciplinary RDM support 

  • Lead the coordination of the TUD Digital Humanities community
  • Contributed to one disciplinary reproducibility guidelines

Event and Community engagement

  • Recurring guest in the PhD onboarding course offered at the central graduate school
  • Invited speaker or session organizer at five (inter)national events
  • Co-chair of RDA professionalizing data stewardship IG
  • Served on the advisory board of TU Delft OPEN publishing and suggested to include the contributor statement (CrediT) in the publishing policy

Research and Publication

Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences

Disciplinary RDM support

  • Lead the implementation, onboarding and supervision of data managers at TU Delft and liaise with the Digital Competence Center
  • Took a leading role in emphasising the importance of management information on data for proper recognition of good data management practices
  • Co-organised week-long disciplinary RDM course (in framework of research school “Centre for Technical Geoscience”)

Event and Community engagement

  • Established the data managers community at TU Delft (on-going)


  • Microsoft certification Azure Fundamentals

Research and publication

  • Developed the tool for automated DMPonline notifications for TU Delft instance
  • Established the workflow of handling DMP requests and provided daily support 

Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Computer Science and Mathematics 

Disciplinary RDM support

  • Lead the development of the Data Access Committee for handling of personal and confidential data

Event and Community engagement

  • Project lead of the Open Hardware project of the Open Science Programme at TU Delft
  • Maintained the Data Champions newsletter and co-facilitated the transition to the Open Science Community Delft
  • Co-organised the 10th anniversary commemoration and relaunch of 4TU.ResaerchData 
  • Co-chair of RDA Discipline-specific Guidance for Data Management Plans Working Group
  • Invited speaker at multiple (inter)national RDM and open science events
  • Presentations and panel member in events on privacy in research data  
  • Contributed to five blog posts on TU Delft open woking blog

Research and Publication

  • Provided input and review of 4TU data deposition policy
  • Contributed to the development of Beyond Essentials for Data Support course

Faculty of Industrial Design and Engineering

Disciplinary RDM support

  • Collaborating on the development ‘Responsible Data’ modules for BSc courses at the faculty
  • Contributing to body of knowledge and materials in the Data-Centric Design community in IDE:
  • Member of successful H2020 Training Network grant on the future of digital design: (temporary site)
  • Participated in external research assessment of IDE faculty on themes of ethics and infrastructure

Event and Community engagement

  • Growing the TUD ‘Digital Humanities’ community with colleagues in BK, EWI and LR

Research and Publication

  • Ran pilot of automated transcription software with colleagues in ICT Innovation
  • Published an Open Access book from work in previous research team

Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering

Disciplinary RDM support

  • Facilitated the Coding Assistant & Research Software Engineer Pilot at 3mE, in collaboration with the library
  • Member of a cross-TU Delft working group (involving the Library and ICT) about Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELN)s 

Event and Community engagement

Research and Publication

Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management

Disciplinary RDM support

  • Contributed to the design of ReproJuice – the Reproducibility Game (currently being deployed) in collaboration with the Game lab
  • Contributed to the MSc workshops on code/software management (part of the “REDCAR” initiative)
  • Provided support to student projects involving personal data as part of BSc MOT-9591 lecture 
  • Provided tutorials and reviews on project specific RDM outputs. 
  • Started the development of a RDM check-out procedure for retiring colleagues. 

Research and publications

Looking forward

Till the moment, the team is still working remotely but with ongoing and new development. The team is in full gear again after going through the transition period by having a new member joined in February. We look forward to intensifying the cultural change towards good data management and open science in the research community, while also to further shaping our data stewardship model.

The importance of data management and demands for data stewards have become evident. We feel proud of our achievements meanwhile also acknowledge many challenges ahead, such as making data management support sustainable with structural institutional changes, better aligning with other research services in the research management ecosystem, further exploring disciplinary RDM solutions and guidance, evaluating the effectiveness of data stewardship in both qualitative and quantitative ways, professionalising data stewardship as a well recognized career path and so on. These are all questions we have and we will carry them onwards in the coming year(s).

One comment

  1. Pingback: Data Stewardship at TU Delft – 2021 Report | Open Working

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