Research IT

Developing a Data Stewardship Community

Eleanor Warren, Research Services Librarian in the Library Research Data Management Team, explains current work to develop the model for Data Stewardship at The University of Manchester, including establishing a community to raise awareness of data stewardship.

Data Stewardship

One of the areas of research data management which we have been exploring in Library Research Services for a few years is Data Stewardship.

Data Stewardship involves the formalisation of roles and responsibilities, and their application, to ensure that research objects are managed for long-term reuse, and in accordance with the FAIR data principles. Data stewards might support researchers in a specific school or faculty with their research data management, acting as both a link to central services (eg. the Library, IT, information governance, etc.) and experts in data practices in the discipline(s) they support.

Our work has initially involved efforts to understand what data stewardship is and what existing models exist at other institutions. We are fortunate that this is a topic of interest internationally and that there are established external groups and networks dedicated to developing Data Stewardship and its related roles within Higher Education and Research. Most notably, we have worked with the Research Data Alliance (RDA) as part of their ‘Professionalising Data Stewardship’ Interest Group, and also with CODATA to develop training for data stewards.  You can read more from Bill Ayres (RDM Strategic Lead) about Making Connections with the Research Data Alliance.

Our Project

Over the past year we have been able to progress our activities through the development of a formal Data Stewardship Project. The project is a collaboration between the Research Lifecycle Programme and the Office for Open Research, with project team members from Library Research Services. The aim of the project is to establish a network of data stewards and build the model for data stewardship across the University.

The project team hosted a workshop in Spring 2023 to enable stakeholders to shape the future of Data Stewardship at the University of Manchester. One of the priorities identified in the workshop was the need for the project to facilitate communication between those working as data stewards, through meetings, events, and easy ways to connect with one another.

We are beginning to develop a community of people at the university who are already working as data stewards or have data stewardship activities as part of their role, and to bring them together. This will hopefully benefit individuals and their research projects or those they are supporting, as well as provide us with further information about what is needed for the formalisation of data steward roles, which we can use to progress the project.

There is already a strong relationship between research data management and research software engineering at the University, which we plan to develop further through collaboration with the new Research Software Community.

Community Space

We have created a new Data Stewardship Community channel within the Computation and Data in Research (CaDiR) Teams space. This aims to:

  • develop awareness of the role of data stewardship and data stewards within research
  • share resources about external networks, training opportunities, and events
  • help the community to learn more about data stewardship
  • advocate for the benefits of data stewardship to research communities
  • promote the professionalisation of data stewardship and the recognition of data stewards
  • identify where data stewardship activities are already happening at the university and bring together people who work in related roles
  • provide an online forum for those working as data stewards to share knowledge and best practices through peer support and cross-disciplinary collaboration
  • reach and engage with those who produce and work directly with data, as well as PIs and Professional Services staff
  • signpost to relevant experts and services across the university

Get involved

To join the Teams channel simply visit Data Stewardship Community and request to join the CaDiR Teams space. Your request should be approved very quickly.

If you have any data stewardship related queries, please contact Eleanor directly or the Office for Open Research Team.