Data Stewardship at TU Delft – 2021 Report

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

Advancing data stewardship

The Data Stewards team at TU Delft has finished another busy year. As changes and remote working became the new norm, the team carried on the success with great adaptability and maturity in 2021. In this report, we review the activities done in the past year and acknowledge the achievements as a team.

More transitions and finally a complete & bigger team!

The team transition mentioned in the 2020 report has continued in 2021:

  • In February, we made the team complete by welcoming Diana Popa, the new Data Steward of the Faculty Architecture and the Built Environment.
  • Sadly in April, we had to start saying farewell to Kees den Heijer, the Data Steward of the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences. Kees was one of the first Data Stewards at the start of the Data Stewardship program. Thankfully that Kees’s new position is within the Research Data Services (RDS) team at the library and he could still offer essential RDM support to the faculty before the new Data Steward is in place. Nicolas Dintzner, the Data Steward of the Faculty Technology, Policy and Management, also kindly helped with some requests with ethical approval required.
  • From the end of May till the end of September, the coordinator Yan Wang was on maternity leave. The coordination was done in a joint effort by the whole team and colleagues from the RDS team. The team’s internal coordination was shared by the Data Stewards. Some Data Stewards were taking lead in coordinating with other research support teams according to their engagement and interests in relevant topics.
  • In October, the team was finally complete. We are proud to have Armstrong and Newton on board. Lora Armstrong is the new Data Steward of the Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences. Arthur Newton is the first Data Steward of QuTech. Now the sky is not even the limit anymore!

Due to COVID restrictions, the team has continued working virtually during the year, and we did not have a chance to have a proper farewell and welcome.

Strengthening connections with other research support teams

The RDM support provided by the Data Stewards team is a joint effort with valuable input from numerous research support teams. We have established good connections with many of them since the start of the data stewardship. In 2021 we further strengthened the link with those who are already working with us and reached out to others to build up more connections.

  • The privacy team, Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC), and ICT innovation have been our close partners in the university-level Personal Research Data (PRD) workflow. The communication between the Data Stewards and these teams became further regulated on a bi-weekly or monthly basis during last year.
  • The Data Stewards team has also established closer contact with the Innovation and Impact Centre (IIC). The IIC has teams of grant officers and project managers who help researchers with grant proposals and project coordination. In collaboration with the former Open Science community engagement manager Emmy Tsang, a few data stewards contributed to a series of collaborative activities:
    • A mini-workshop on Data and IP for project managers
  • The Data Stewards have been in close collaboration with the DCC team on various activities since the start of the DCC at TU Delft. Since October 2021, the coordinators of both teams were in place and started to keep each other updated.

Team achievements across all faculties

Despite different disciplinary demands among faculties, there are a few common activities performed by DSs across all faculties. As a team, we continued to provide the following types of support which form the foundation of the RDM support from the team.

Data management consultation

  • Consultation is still the main channel to deliver the RDM support. From all faculties, more than 1200 requests from researchers were received in 2021. This shows another significant increase (approximately 50%) compared to the requests received in 2020. While Data Management Plans (DMPs) were still the majority of the requests, there was a broad range of questions on data storage, sharing, licensing, privacy, tooling, and others.  

Training & Education

  • Data Stewards continue to get involved in RDM training at both the faculty and university level. Many Data Stewards contributed to the software carpentry and data carpentry workshops as instructors, helpers,s or coordinators. RDM training at the faculty level is provided in various formats, such as informative sessions at the individual, group, or department level, RDM courses for PhDs, or discipline-specific training workshops.

Policy & Strategy

  • The team has been working on publishing and implementing faculty-level data management policies since 2019. In early 2021, all faculties (except QuTech whose Data Steward only started in October 2021 but already started working on the policy draft since then) have published their policies. The team also provided valuable input and facilitated the consultation of the TU Delft Research Software Policy and the Guidelines on Research Software which were published in March 2021.

In addition to the above-mentioned common achievement of the whole team, each Data Steward further expanded their disciplinary support according to faculty needs.

Faculty of Aerospace Engineering

Disciplinary RDM support

  • Co-developed the ASCM Code Initiative which has consisted of developing an instructing wiki and giving training sessions on proper coding practices for ASCM researchers. This is expected to continue this year and probably expand to more faculty sections.
  • Performed specific training sessions for different groups to improve their coding management skills (version control).
  • 1 Astronomy Data Carpentry workshop (at the national level in collaboration with Netherlands Institute for Space Research SRON, Leiden Sterrewacht, and Netherlands eScience Center), and 4 code management workshops (at the faculty level).
  • Became the Secretary of the Data Carpentry Astronomy curriculum (

Event and community engagement

  • Expanded the faculty Data Champions from 13 (one left TU Delft) in 2020 to 19 in 2021
  • Instructor in Train the Trainer FAIR and Reproducible Code workshop for 4TU Data Stewards.
  • Led sessions on Data Curation for the Consorci de Serveis Universitaris de Catalunya
  • Invited speaker at 8 (online) events showcasing Data Stewardship at TU Delft and recommended research data management practices (for Helis Academy, Graz University of Technology, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya, Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica, LA Referencia, Universidad Internacional de Ciencia y Tecnología de Panamá and Agencia Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo de Chile).
  • Hosted a Data Steward Interest Group meeting (

Data Stewardship coordination

  • Performed an Informative Session on Open Science and Research Data Management requirements for research funding officers of the TU Delft Innovation & Impact Center.

Faculty of Applied Science

A full overview of Data Steward activities is summarized nicely in this blog:

Disciplinary RDM support

  • Implemented the Open Life Science programme into the Faculty Graduate School so that Ph.D. candidates from Applied Science can follow the top training on Open Science practices for credits!
  • Part of the ELN project group

Event and community engagement

  • Invited to provide Research Data Management training to the SeaChanges project, Helis Academy, DCC Spring Course
  • Mentor/expert for the Open Life Science Programme
  • Project Member of The Turing Way
  • Co-chair of RDA group: Physical Samples and Collections in the Research Data Ecosystem IG. This year the group organized a webinar series and created a 23 Things on Physical Samples overview.
  • Participant in the CSCCE Community Champions meetings
  • Was an (invited) speaker at 9 events, programme committee member or (co)organizer of 11 events, workshops, or sessions, and presented 1 poster


  • Attended courses on Leadership and online community management

Research and publication

  • (Co)authored 10 blog posts on Open Working, The Open Archaeobotanist, Data Horror Stories, Software Sustainability Institute, and Code for Society
  • Published a data paper:

Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment

Event and community engagement

  • Participated in Working groups:
    • WG with the IIC on project support for the new Horizon Europe program:  Next steps Open Science/Open Data/Ethics Horizon Europe;
    • Privacy and GDPR Working group;
    • IAM soundboard group
    • Measuring the Adoption of Fair data practice Working group
  • Helped organize the Delft Digital Humanities community meetings.
  • Participated in DCC events and training.
  • Participated in Online events (selection):
    • Organized by the IIC:
      • Demystifying data management and ethical considerations for grant applicants;
      • Business partnership Support for research collaborations;
      • GPS: get your bearings in funding land –  Get Prepared for Subsidies.
    • CESAER events:
      • First experiences with EU funding programmes from 2021 to 2027;
      • do no significant harm’ principle and its proposed implementation by the European Commission.
    • NWO Webinar FAIR: It Takes a Village.
    • SURF Research Bootcamp.
    • DANS Data Trail Workshop – FAIR data assessment tools: an evaluation.
    • LCRDM: Network Afternoon LUSTRUM Edition of the data support collective.
    • “FAIRsFAIR roadshow.
    • Research and Innovation days.
    • UN Open Science Conference.
    • Open Science Coffee Delft: Diversity & Inclusion in Research, Technology, and Design.


  • Completed the Scopus Certification Program for Librarians.

Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences

Due to the change of the Data Steward, there was a 5-month gap in providing the faculty support. Nevertheless, there was still significant additional work done by (both) the data stewards.

Disciplinary RDM support

  • Internal presentation to the Transport & Planning department
  • Contribution to Open Science paragraph for Midterm Civil Engineering

Event and community engagement

  • Participated in FAIR and Reproducible Code Working Group
  • Provided input for the Information Literacy masters course being designed by the library
  • Supervising data managers for DCC
  • Involvement in EPOS-NL/4TU.ResearchData/UU collaboration
  • Involvement in the Digishape initiative

Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Computer Science, and Mathematics

Disciplinary RDM support

  • Developed and delivered training sessions on the handling of personal data in Research for Masters Students
  • In conjunction with researchers at IEPG helped develop research group-specific data management structure and workflow.
  • Contributed to the development of “Beyond Essentials” – RDNL course focused on privacy and GDPR (development led by Marlon Domingus from Erasmus University)
  • Project lead Open Hardware project within the Open Science Programme, 40,000 Euro budget for developing Open Hardware activities
    • Organized multiple workshops (with a team)
      • A hands-on Online Open Hardware workshop at the Open Science Festival
      • In conjunction with the DCSE a beginner and an intermediate-level workshop on cluster computing using Raspberry Pis
    • Created the position and hired a Research Hardware Engineer (RHE) – first of a kind role for supporting open hardware activities (to the best of my knowledge)

Event and community engagement

  • Invited speaker at Helis Academy, Graz University of Technology
  • Active in three working groups as part of the 4TU community
    • Led the Privacy and GDPR Working group
    • FAIR and Reproducible code WG
    • Engagement and Education WG
  • Co-chair of RDA working group: Discipline-specific Guidance for Data Management Plans
  • Session organizer at the RDA’s 17th & 18th Plenary Meetings
  • Invited as a guest on the R2OS (Road to Open Science) podcast from Utrecht University
  • Part of the team that created and published the FAIRly Open After Dark podcast series, which dealt with Open Science, FAIR Data, and Academia in general from the perspectives of different stakeholders.
  • Participated in the Health RI conference 

Data Stewardship coordination

  • Collaborated with the privacy team and HREC on aligning workflow for research projects that handle personal data.

Faculty of Industrial Design and Engineering

Disciplinary RDM support

  • Co-taught two sessions of ‘Ethics and Research Data Management’ module for the IDE Ph.D. research school
  • Co-developed and taught a BSc course on ‘Data as a Design Material’
  • Developed and taught a module on ‘Responsible IoT Design’ for the BSc course on ‘Software-Enabled Products’

Research and publication

Event and community engagement

  • Attended multiple Design & Digital/Computational Humanities conferences and events, most notably those from DH Benelux featuring practices and practitioners from the Benelux Regions and Dutch Design Week in Eindhoven

Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime, and Materials Engineering

Disciplinary RDM support

  • Further developed and regularly delivered Data Management Plan Training for 3mE Ph.D. students 
  • Contributed to the development of and taught at the MSc course ‘Introduction to Engineering Research’
  • Taught at the BSc programme ‘Clinical Technology’
  • Co-developed and co-delivered the Workshop on FAIR for Material Design
  • Member of a cross-TU Delft working group (involving the Library and ICT) about Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELN)s which:
    • Offers ELN licenses to interested researchers
    • Organization of regular community events

Event and community engagement

  • Organized and presented (departmental) information sessions about Research Data Management, Research Software Policy, and the Open Science Program
  • Co-organized and presented an Open Science Session for 3mE Ph.D. students
  • Member of the 4TU.ResearchData FAIR and Reproducible Code, Privacy and GDPR, Engagement and Education working groups
  • Co-chair of RDA working group: Discipline-specific Guidance for Data Management Plans
  • Was an invited speaker or a session organizer at seven (inter)national conferences / training sessions / webinars (RDA’s 17th & 18th Plenary Meetings, NWO Life Conference, Material Pioneers Webinar, National Turkish and Hacettepe University Research Data Symposiums, Turkish Open Access Week) and acted as a Programme Committee member of two conferences (National Turkish and Hacettepe University Research Data Symposiums)
  • Was invited to serve on the jury of the Eurac Open Research Award

Research and publication

  • Co-authored the Whitepaper: The Future of FAIR.
    • Khodiyar, Varsha; Laine, Heidi; O’Brien, David; Rodriguez-Esteban, Raul; Turkyilmaz-van der Velden, Yasemin; Baynes, Grace; et al. (2021): Research Data: The Future of FAIR White paper. figshare. Journal contribution.  

Data Stewardship coordination

  • Initiated set up a guidance document about data management and open science sections in Horizon Europe proposals in collaboration with the Open Science Community Manager and Data Stewards
  • Took part in a collaboration with the TU Delft Innovation & Impact Center to create awareness about the Open Science and Research Data Management requirements in Horizon Europe and presented/contributed to two information sessions 

Faculty of Technology, Policy, and Management

Disciplinary RDM support

Event and community engagement

  • Launch of the “ReproJuice” video game with the Library
  • RDM training instructor at the Summer School in KTU (Lithuania)
  • Active in 3 working groups of the 4TU community:
    • FAIR Code (GitHub pages training, organized session on container tech for Open Science).
    • Education and Engagement
    • Privacy

Research and Publication

Data Stewardship coordination

  • Collaborate with the privacy team and HREC on aligning workflow for research projects that handle personal data.


The QuTech Data Steward started in October 2021. Within the short period left in the year, he already contributed to the training at the university level, actively provided RDM consultation, and reached out to most research teams in the faculty. Furthermore, he has drafted the QuTech Data Management policy and planned to have the faculty consultation (this policy has been published in April 2022).

Looking forward

A few lessons learned from this year can help guide us for the coming year(s). We should do better in documenting our Data Stewards’ knowledge base on RDM-related information within the organization as a guide for both researchers and Data Stewards. This would especially be helpful for new DS on boarding.

We are still in the process of further shaping the Data Steward work scope to handle increasing and more complex RDM demands. Besides all the RDM support activities, the team has also been actively engaged in discussions about the Data Stewardship model, the profile, and the career paths for Data Stewards.  Every Data Steward is encouraged to explore their own ‘Data Stewardship’ within the faculty. This does not just include working on disciplinary RDM support, but also exploring organizational solutions to sustain and expand the Data Stewardship support within the faculty. Faculty level Data Stewardship implies that a senior role of the current faculty Data Steward should play. This requires a corresponding recognition regarding the Data Steward profile and progress paths. We are all motivated to do more, meanwhile appreciate the rewards and recognition of the work we do. There is definitely more room for attention and efforts on the professional growth of Data Steward and Data Stewardship.

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