Data Management as a tool for scientists - experiences from the first training sessions

In September and October, SIOS provided training sessions on data management for three research groups that had gathered for workshops, funded through the Strategic Grant Call by Svalbard Science Forum. The workshops were held in Longyearbyen and Sicily by Øystein Godøy and Lara Ferrighi, respectively. Both are employed at and heavily involved in SIOS Data Management.

The training sessions contained three parts; a general presentation of why data management is important, an introduction to the SIOS Data Management System and its distributed nature, and a section that focused on steps towards meeting emerging requirements from funding agencies. This included an introduction on how to create a data management plan and how to properly document data for discovery and reuse. Emphasis was put on standardisation and self explaining file formats, but it was also acknowledged that many scientists do use spreadsheets for data entry. If properly formatted and standardised, even spreadsheets can be used to simplify the process of archiving and sharing data. The risk of errors during data entry can be minimised through quality control of the input data. The training was based on the FAIR Guiding Principles as published by Wilkinson et al. (2016). These principles outline important steps towards making data Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reuseable.

The three training sessions constituted a pilot for data management training. Three research communities received and contributed to the training. SIOS received valuable information about practical problems and cultural challenges concerning data management from the different parts of the SIOS science community. An initial evaluation indicates that a practical session with templates and real-life examples should be added to future course programmes. The development of a series of templates can now begin based on the input and experience from these pilot training sessions. The templates will eventually be available on the SIOS webpage in order to encourage and facilitate proper data management right from the planning phase of a project.

If you are interested in such a workshop to be held with your institution or project team, please contact our Information Officer.

Good data management will preserve data and make data available for reuse by yourself, other scientists and future generations (Figure: Jim Gray on eScience: A Transformed Scientific Method).