Pioneering stage

Erik Jansen started at UM Library as a functional administrator of several applications. One of them was DataverseNL, a repository where researchers can publish and register their data, and an important Research Data Management (RDM) tool. With the rise of Open Science, the role of data steward was defined and Erik changed from his role as administrator to data steward. In the beginning, he supported researchers from all faculties with RDM related aspects and, together with Henk van den Hoogen as programme manager RDM, he worked hard to put RDM on the map of UM. Once the foundation was laid, the amount of work increased and the team grew, with now a dedicated data steward in each faculty. Erik became the data steward at FPN.

Growing field

As the first data steward at UM library, Erik started something new and the team of data stewards now see the result of their efforts. The field is growing, researchers better understand the concepts of Open Science, RDM and FAIR data (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable). And the attitude of researchers towards Open Science and RDM is also changing. They are motivated to manage and publish their research data. According to Erik, that is the best reward.

Collaboration to gain knowledge

In his daily work, Erik collaborates with many groups such as the team of data stewards, researchers, information managers, the Open Science Community Maastricht (OSCM) and other UM RDM service providers such as MEMIC and DataHub. Together with his colleagues, Erik was involved in the development of several services for RDM support and the team has achieved a lot in recent years. Examples are the development of the RDM portal, where researchers find information on everything related to RDM, the creation of several new training courses and the development of a UM Data Management Plan (DMP) template. Also, all data stewards have gained a lot of knowledge about GDPR and are ECPC-B-DPO certified. To keep up with the latest developments in the field of RDM, Erik and his colleagues regularly share information and knowledge. But they are also active in national forums, such as the UKB work group, LCRDM (National Coordination Point Research Data Management), the Research Data Alliance (RDA) and the DSIG (Data Stewards Interest Group).

Tailor-made data support

Besides developing services, data stewards spend much of their time supporting researchers. The questions are very diverse and differ per discipline. For example, at faculties where little personal data is collected, data stewards have to deal less with GDP-related questions than at faculties where a lot of personal data is processed. In general, most questions relate to DMPs. These are documents in which researchers explain how they will handle research data during and after the research. But Erik also sees many questions about publishing data and about the GDPR.

Let us help you from scratch

Although UM Library developed the support to researchers, there is still work to be done. Open Science requires a cultural change, which cannot be achieved within a year, and RDM is part of this process. It comes down to guiding and supporting researchers, entering into dialogue with them and understanding the problems they face.

Erik’s main advice to researchers is to contact the faculty data steward before starting their research. RDM takes time upfront, but if the RDM aspects are arranged before the research starts, it saves more time during the research. As a data steward, Erik will always strive to make RDM as easy and interesting as possible for the researchers, so they can focus their time on their passion: doing research.

Want to know more about how a data steward can support you, watch the video below.