The CODATA-RDA Schools instructors together with FAIRsFAIR, EOSC-Pillar, EOSC Synergy and Ghent University delivered a three day train-the-trainer workshop in June to support the development of data stewardship skills among staff in universities and other research institutions in Belgium. The event gathered 30 participants from the emerging RDM support staff community in the country.

Among the participants, 50% had been in their data steward role for less than 6 months, 18% between 6 and 12 months, and only the remaining 32% had been working as a data steward for longer than a year. Most of the participants (55%) works in smaller teams of less than 5 people, or work on their own (25%). Only 20% was part of a team of more than 5 members.

The aim of the workshop was to introduce participants to the key concepts and drivers for Open Science, RDM and FAIR data, to consider the existing local support service they can leverage and to identify areas where collaboration with peer institutions on support provision will be beneficial. The workshop combined a series of theoretical and practical sessions, where participants were given the opportunity to interact and get to know other colleagues in their professional network and exchange their experience in supporting researchers with RDM. Participants were also introduced to key concepts of pedagogy and were able to put these in practice with a course design and development activity. They also got to evaluate their existing training offer and materials, and to explore other potential open training resources that could help them achieve their training goals. Finally, other sessions allowed participants to reflect on their own role as data stewards and on the status of RDM services in their respective institutions.

The workshop met the expectations and motivation of the participants, who had join with an interest to learn more about what the role of a data steward entails (“interest in how to be a data steward”, “As a new data steward I wanted to get better at my job”), to learn more about how to provide effective training (“have tips and practical info to organize RDM training”, “to see how others are handing this kind of training”) and to understand how to implement RDM services and advance FAIR data within their organization. When asked about the best aspects of the workshop, participants valued the interactive and hands-on approach of the event (“exercises got us actively engaged in the material”, “combination and practice and theory”), the networking opportunity that was offered (“getting to meet new people”, “sharing experience with other participants”), as well as the discovery of new resources that they can apply to their daily job (“getting to know new tools which can help me to improve as a data steward and improve my training sessions”, “catalogue of training resources”). Participants also identified areas of improvement for future events, namely the lack of time to have deeper discussion or feedback after exercises, taking more time to explain the expected outcome of the practical activities and having the opportunity to introduce each other at the beginning of the event.

Blogpost also published in the CODATA-RDA Data Schools Newsletter :