Data Steward Pilot Project

You are part of a research group at a Thuringian university and would like to improve your research data management?

By participating in the "Rent a Data Steward" pilot program, your group receives individual and free of charge support from one of our two Data Stewards in order to establish professional workflows for handling research data. Our Data Stewards are deployed throughout Thuringia. They tackle challenges of handling research data together with your team for the term agreed upon. To name some areas of application, these could be quality assurance of data and metadata, selection of suitable storage infrastructures and strategies, documentation of data sources and data processing steps, regulation of rights and obligations in data processing.

The Data Stewards are part of TKFDM and complement the existing consulting services offered by the FDM service points at Thuringia's universities. RDM helpdesks at your university primarily offer consultation and application support. Data Stewards develop hands-on solutions and help to implement them. In doing so, the Data Stewards work closely with the corresponding service and infrastructure providers at your university.

You are unsure whether your request is suitable for a data steward collaboration? Contact us and we will discuss the possibilities!

How do Data Stewards collaborate with your team?

In dialog with the requesting research group, the Data Stewards analyze the existing data management routines and determine the needs and requirements of the team. Together we identify development goals and agree upon a roadmap. 

The subsequent work phase is devoted to individual and joint workshops on identified topics of relevance. The aim is to develop solutions at strategic, technical and social levels, to implement them together and transfer them into day-to-day practice.  

Upon completion of the Data Steward assignment, documentation is provided and the TKFDM asks the research group for structured feedback.

Which criteria must be met to participate in the Data Steward Program?

Upon your request, the TKFDM first reviews the intended deployment. The following criteria are taken into account: 

  • The requesting research group is located at a Thuringian university. 
  • Researchers requesting a Data Steward deployment should hold a professorship or junior professorship at a public university or lead a junior research group.  
  • Requests of research groups at non-university institutions ("An-Institute") cannot be taken into consideration. 
  • Sustainable improvement of research data management in a research group must be the goal of the Data Steward deployment. 
  • If the specific needs analysis reveals that a one-time consultation is sufficient to meet the challenges (small scope, resources available) we will provide support within a narrow time frame. 
  • No application advice or support (such as on data management plans in DFG project proposals). 
  • No one-on-one consultations. 
  • No introduction and long-term support of applications that can be provided by a central infrastructure provider (e. g. electronic lab books/ELNs). If special applications are introduced, a transfer of responsibility must take place. 
  • Data Steward deployments over the entire duration of a collaborative project (e.g. SFB, SPP) are not possible. The necessary funds must be raised by the projects themselves in the context of the funding application. 

Note on Electronic Laboratory Notebooks (ELNs)

  • A technical introduction & operation of an ELN cannot be carried out as part of a data steward assignment.
  • However, an introduction into an existing ELN infrastructure & support in representing the workflows in the ELN can be provided as part of a data steward collaboration. In case a group decides to host and maintain an ELN by themself the data stewards can also provide support in the selection of a suitable ELN.

How can my team use the service

If the above criteria are met, you can submit a request via the online form. We will start processing requests on October 1, 2023. For an initial review, we need the following information: 

  • Time period and expected time scope of the assignment, 
  • a description of the objective of the RDM improvement, 
  • size of the team to be supported by the Data Steward, 
  • information on cooperation and possible confidentiality or non-disclosure obligations, 
  • Information on who (if anyone) takes care of data management, and 
  • whether research data publications have already been made or publications are planned. 

 The Data Stewards will contact you to schedule a specific needs analysis. 

Thuringia-wide operations begin in January 2024. 

Further Information

The concept of the pilot program, the typical procedure of collaboration with a Data Steward and an insight into the praxis were presented (in german) at the Thuringian FDM Days 2023 & 2024. 

  • Data Stewards in Thüringen - ein Pilotprojekt für Forschende an Thüringer Hochschulen als Erweiterung des TKFDM (Zenodo | Youtube)
  • Data Stewards in Thüringen - Einblick in die Praxis (Zenodo | Youtube)

You can submit your inquiry for data steward collaboration using our form: Data Stewards Inquiry

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the network.