Category: Essentials 4 Data Support

International Digital Curation Conference, February 2020, Dublin (Ireland)


Over 300 participants gathered to talk on:
Collective Curation: the many hands that make data work.
The programme focused on the community:  the various stakeholders that play a role in ensuring digital objects are properly created, managed and shared.

The 2day conference started with a very interesting keynote on the Internet of Things (IoT) from Francine Berman, Professor in Computer Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and this year based at Harvard. The main message was: IoT can be Utopia or Dystopia, it is all up to us. The IoT will generate TBs of data. How do we cope with that? How do we prevent devices for being hacked? Where is the privacy when you drive in an automated vehicle? The car knows which music you listen to!!

I spoke with people engaged in the training of people and had the chance to promote the courses Essentials 4 Data Support course and the MOOC Delivering Research Data Services. We ran this MOOC last year Autumn and we rerun the MOOC, starting February 24. Last year we had over 1600 participants!! The poster was presented in a poster:


One of the session was on a risk catalogue that can be used to review data management plans. There are legal, privacy, ethical and technical risks. It makes the data management plan more a working document, knowing the risks and how to manage them.

Second day, February 18

The second day started with a keynote from Kostas Glinos, Head of Unit for Open Science at European Commission, in the directorate-general for Research & Innovation since 1 June 2019. He spoke on how responsible research data management will be key in mainstreaming Open Science policies under the next framework programme, Horizon Europe. In that programme mandatory data management plans for all projects that generate or collect research data, and by introducing data management considerations as an element on which applicants can be evaluated. One of the reasons is that the EU wants to improve trust between science and society by engaging citizens in co-designing and co-creating research.

Another presentation I liked was on gaming: Lego; Metadata for reproducibility. In short:
Build a vehicle with 13 bricks, document what you have built and take it apart again. Another group will then build the car again using the documentation. After building the cars are compared with another. This generates lots of discussions and can be used for talking on the importance of metadata. 

I attended a session on the Privacy Impact Assessment (PIA) from the ICPSR. The PIA investigates the privacy issues concerning data. The ICPSR trains researchers to acquire a passport that approves access ta various databases, based on their training and credentials. Researchers acquire a passport where the level of access is mentioned.

An impression of the conference: 


Sandra Collins (Director of the National Library of Ireland) on Collecting and Curating the National Memory was the last keynote speaker.
The Irish National Library collects memories to share the culture and story of a nation. In the past that were ‘physical’ memories: newspapers, books and also lottery tickets! But in the digital age, our life is more and more open and our personal memories are digital-born. The National Library collects nowadays more and more digital items, already more than 300.000 Irish websites! The National Library works together RDA and DCC in curating their collection. And many volunteers to provide metadata to all kind of items.

Some conclusions of this iDCC:

– There is a strong focus on FAIR, and on how to put these principles into practice
– Reliability is becoming more and more an issue
– More and more data are generated, as more and more devices are connected. We as a society need to take care of that, in good collaboration with government and academia. 

The next iDCC will be organised in collaboration with the RDA Plenary, Edinburgh, UK, from 20th to 22nd April 2021.

Delivering Research Data Management Services, week 2

MOOC tutors. From left to right: Sarah Jones, Rene van Horik, Alexandra Delipalta, S. Venkat, Ellen Verbakel.

In the second week of the Delivering Research Data Management Services we focused on “Finding the gap” in your RDM Services. One way to find the gap is by using the RISE tool. This tool can be used to define how mature the institution is on topics like research data policy and strategy, digital preservation, training, and active data management.

We asked the learners about their experiences and they found it useful reflecting on this:

“That was a good exercise, naming strengths and challenges. I am always very aware of the challenges, but it is good to reflect a moment on the strengths and realize that we have done some good work already.”
Barbara Vermaas

Many learners identified areas in which their organisations were not doing everything well. Some had a lack of money, people, resources or interest from researchers. Several learners also realised that services are in place in their institutions but very diffuse and spread across multiple units.


Learners liked the gap analysis exercise and the SPARC online tool You can see an example output from this above. In the online forum learners shared results which showed a great difference in strengths and weaknesses across organisations. Naturally, some organisations didn’t want to share the outcomes because the information can be very confidential. We encouraged them to speak with others in the organization to evaluate the assessment.

Many learners realised that they didn’t know about all the services already in place in their institution. Their first steps will be to make an inventory of what is available and see how they can align these with their own activities. Collaborating with colleagues to coordinate provision is key.

After finding the gap and having evaluated their efforts so far, the learners started week 3, focusing on how to set up services and good starting points.

Our MOOC runs until 14th October and will run again later in the year or early 2020. Find out more at


Come learn with us!

Image: MOOC tutors. From left to right: Sarah Jones, Rene van Horik, Alexandra Delipalta, S. Venkat, Ellen Verbakel.

Just over a week in and we all continue to be overwhelmed by responses to our new MOOC* on Delivering Research Data Management Services. We have over 1400 learners from 116 countries and they have been very active in the discussion forum. Literally hundreds of comments and questions – and such insightful responses to the material.

Ellen and Sarah moderated the first week of the MOOC and have been inspired to do more online teaching as a result. This week you have Rene, Sarah and Ellen answering your questions. In the first week we learnt about the basics of RDM services, the data lifecycle and making the case for support. Participants watched various videos and read case studies, then reflected on the priorities at their own institution. Forum comments show that participants found the inputs from people we interviewed useful:

‘I agree with Gavin that ‘well managed data leads to higher quality research’.
Dorothy Byatt

‘I liked the summary by Tanita Casci (Head of Research Policy at the University of Glasgow) of what good research is like: “Good research is research that is well-planned, well-executed, well-documented, and widely shared.’
Philipp Conzett

Data Management Planning and data stewardship were key discussion points. Many funders and organisations worldwide are encouraging DMPs but there are concerns about ensuring requirements are realistic and support researchers’ practices. The data stewardship approach at Delft also raised a lot of discussion. People appreciated their emphasis on open science and found the model a great way to bridge between the various services available in the institutions, as well as between data services and research communities.

The discussion on the stakeholders provided us with lots of insights from the institutions you all work in. The overall conclusion was that there is often a lack of engagement from senior management. Many people wanted to raise awareness, especially amongst researchers. Services could also be unconnected across the institution so support staff wanted to join up provision to offer a coordinated set of RDM services.

We have a few learners from a research background too. Our course is aimed specifically at those delivering RDM services. Some lessons will be transferable to other contexts, but those wanting to learn how to manage and share data should check out parallel courses such as those noted below:

Our MOOC runs until 14th October and will run again later in the year or early 2020. Find out more at:

* A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course. Our MOOC is available on the FutureLearn platform and is free to all.

This blog post is also posted here.



Training for Data Stewards

As discussed in our previous blog post, TU Delft embarked on an ambitious Data Stewardship programme. The programme aims to address disciplinary needs in Research Data Management by appointing a dedicated subject-specific Data Steward at each one of TU Delft’s eight Faculties. Three Faculties have already appointed their Data Stewards.

Data Stewards are subject-specific experts and therefore bring different skills and knowledge to the team. However, this also means that Stewards might have different degrees of understanding about the overall trends and expectations in the field of research data management and Open Science. Therefore, in order to ensure that all Stewards deliver consistent messages and good quality support to the research community, an intense training programme was developed.

External training

In the first instance, all Data Stewards will attend and complete the intense Essentials 4 Data Support, delivered to international communities by the Research Data Netherlands. The main goal of the course is “teaching the basic knowledge and skills (essentials) to enable a data supporter to take the first steps towards supporting researchers in storing, managing, archiving and sharing their research data”.

Internal training

In addition to external training, Data Stewards will also attend a series of two-hour in-house training sessions, delivered by local experts in data management:

  • Introduction to delivering data management workshops
  • Awareness about local support for data archiving:
    • 4TU.Centre for Research Data – why to use it and how to use it?
    • Data Funds – available for researchers to prepare data for deposit
  • Open Access services available at the Library
  • Supporting researchers with Data Management Plans
  • ICT support for data management at TU Delft
  • Selfish benefits of data sharing
  • Presentation skills

Training is scheduled to complete by end of December 2017. Data Stewards will develop and start delivering training for their local research communities from January 2018.

If you have any comments or would like to make suggestions about this training programme, please add your comment below or contact – we would be delighted to hear from you.

Essentials 4 Data Support

Today, March 23rd, we had our second face-to-face day of the Essentials 4 Data Support training. Another 13 data supporters received their certificate, and can call themselves Data Supporter. Until now we have had about 250 students. At the end of the day the students write an evaluation, and we ask them to rate the course on a scale from 1 (very bad) to 10 (excellent). Today we had a score of 4 times a 9 and even a score of 10!!

So now we have started the preparations for the next course. For this course the target group has been broadened. The face-to-face days will be in English, so students from abroad who are working in the Netherlands can take the course. Dutch students can make the assignments in Dutch, of course.

Here is the link to the website, if you want to inform somebody on the course:


Short report of iDCC 2017

February 27th we reported back of the iDCC in Keek op de Week.
It was a pity that so few colleagues were there to listen to our enthusiast talks.
Madeleine presented: software sustainability, ma-DMPs, data carpentry, data science…
Jasmin explained the beautiful poster and the paper. Ellen talked on the ‘Essentials 4 Data Support, the train-the-trainer version’ and showed some pictures of the very engaged participants.