Data managers at Utrecht University (UU) and University Medical Center Utrecht (UMCU) are forming an expert network in which they can exchange knowledge and experience about their profession. The network will take the form of regular theme events, for example, and of more frequent cooperation with RDM Support. This initiative is one of the major outcomes of the first data managers' meeting, which was held on 20 April and organised by the Research IT programme.
40 data managers
Nearly 40 data managers responded to the programme's invitation to sit down and talk about the role of data managers. Within the university, there is an increasingly large group of people that deal with data management. That happens as part of many different job descriptions, such as data steward or data engineer for instance, as well as within a wide range of contexts. The majority of these individuals are frequently unaware of what the others know and do.
Time and again, during the more personal introductions in smaller groups, it became apparent that everyone is trying to find their own individual solutions to concrete problems – even though these same problems pose an issue in other places as well. It also became clear that the role of data manager is so broad (privacy, metadata, file formats, storage, policy, etc.) that it is not feasible to expect any one individual to be sufficiently knowledgeable in all of these areas. Seen in that light, it was obvious that increased cooperation could be extremely beneficial.
Approximately half of this group refers to themselves as a data manager; while the rest call themselves otherwise, they do understand that a portion of their tasks centre around data management. The diversity was therefore extremely great: researchers and members of support staff, IT people and project leaders, employees of the central IT department and those working in a research group. A quick survey of the group revealed that over half the participants feel that the university or hospital could be making even better use of their expertise.
This meeting marked the start of a new network between UU and UMCU. The best way to make this network as effective as possible is still being explored. In the meantime, a list of data managers and series of special theme events on concrete topics are in the works.
The Research IT programme is still looking for data managers who have not yet joined the network. The theme events will be open to all: anyone with an interest in that particular theme is welcome.
About the programme
Research IT focuses on Research Data Management and e-Infrastructure, with the aim of supporting and relieving Utrecht University academics in conducting transparent, sustainable and ethically qualified research.
In 2016, Utrecht University established the Research IT innovation programme. The programme allows extra investments to be made in IT for researchers for a five-year period.