The emerging profession of Data Stewards is called to play a fundamental role to support researchers in reaching Open Research Data (ORD) goals. SIB has joined forces with the University of Lausanne and several Swiss institutions to launch a new project to foster training and a national curriculum for data stewards, and is in charge of the life science part. This project includes the creation of a dedicated Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) and has now successfully received funding after a swissuniversities call for projects which foster ORD.

A profession very much in demand

Implementing ORD principles requires resources and a set of multidisciplinary competencies that researchers often lack. The role of data stewards in the context of the Swiss research will thus be increasingly important, but its contours are to be further defined across and within scientific domains, from life science to social sciences. Patricia Palagi, Head of the Training group at SIB, is leading the life science work package of this project. “Fit for purpose and scalable training is essential to develop the Data Stewards profession and to offer research with the best possible support towards ORD, especially in fields as data rich as the life sciences,” she said on the project.

Find out more about our data stewardship projects

Catalyzing Open Research Data practices in Switzerland

Several projects involving or led by SIB Members have been granted funding by swissuniversities, as part of the “Open Science I Phase B – ORD programme” to promote excellence in practices, and to define, establish and promote the role of experts in the field. The call is supporting the National Strategy and Action plan for ORD.

A national curriculum, CAS and network

The project, successfully funded through a swissuniversities call (see box), is structured around three main parts:

  1. Definition and profile: A competency framework (professional, methodological, personal, and social) necessary for data stewardship will be defined and developed to create a common definition with expected profiles.
  2. Certified training programme: A Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) will be setup. It will consist of a generalist foundation (transdisciplinary) that can respond to cross-cutting data management issues, complemented by specific modules for biological and biomedical sciences. Depending on the needs of different research communities, other modules may be added to the curriculum.
  3. The Swiss Data Stewardship Network (SDSNet): This aims to formalize and coordinate a sustainable network of future and current data stewards, as well as professionals (e.g. teachers) in data stewardship. The goal is to exchange best practices and experiences, develop know-how and sustainable synergies. It will also respond to current and future constraints in data management and opening.

Institutions involved

  • University of Lausanne (Leading house) 
  • University of Geneva
  • SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics
  • University of Zurich
  • Universities of Applied Sciences (HEG)
  • University of Teacher Education (HEP Vaud)
  • Swiss Centre of Expertise in the Social Sciences (FORS)
  • Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZHAW)