Datasteward-network day: Celebrating data - with RDNL


Seminar on the occasion of the 5th award ceremony of the Dutch Data Prize 2018. Report written by Ingeborg Verheul.

Fragmented but close

Quite a few people nowadays see the current data landscape in the Netherlands as too much fragmented. The data event which took place on Wednesday the 28th of November proved that fragmentation not necessarily hinders knowledge sharing between peers at a national level. 

Prior to the event of the fifth award ceremony of the RDNL Dutch Data Prize a group of RDM stakeholders (LCRDM, RDNL, the UKB Working Group Research Data, NFU Data4LifeSciences) together organised a seminar called Celebrating data! What's next?

Data supporters and researchers

The seminar was meant to attract a broader audience for the data prize event, and served as a follow up meeting of two events that were organised in October and December 2017 by LCRDM and UKB for people in the new  role of data stewards.

The 2017 events mainly served as an opportunity for people in the data stewardship role to get to know their peers. Celebrating data! additionally offered room for practical exchange between data supporters and scientists. The Dutch NPOS community supported the symposium as one of the national activities aligning with the NPOS theme Stimulating Open Science.

Plenary: speaking of history and u/dys-topia

Some 90 people attended the event which was held at the premises of NWO in The Hague.
Eloquent host of the day was Arjan van Hessen, researcher @ UU and UTwente, expert in speech technology, and Director User Involvement for CLARIAH.

The plenary session was kicked off by RDNL Chair Peter Doorn (Director of DANS) with a word of welcome, in which he also gave an overview of the history of the data prize.

This was followed by a very inspiring and honest key note, titled Sharing your data: utopia or dystopia? by Rens van der Schoot. Van der Schoot is researcher social sciences @ Utrecht University and member of the Dutch Young Academy of Sciences/De Jonge Akademie.   

In his talk Rens promoted to be as open as possible in sharing data, but at the same time to stay alert on all dangers threatening the privacy of people involved in research – in all phases of research. Click here for the result of the Mentimeter test that Rens used to open up the discussion.

Panel sessions: sharing thoughts

The time between the coffee break and the actual award ceremony for the Data Prize 2018 in the afternoon was reserved for two rounds of panel sessions. The panel sessions facilitated a vivid dialogue between researchers and research supporters on practical issues around data (management). The session programme was run twice, to give the attendees of the conference the opportunity to get involved in two topics of their choice.


The UKB Working Group Research Data held a session on data support, titled: Data support and coordination, from start to finish. The goal of this session was to explore how to provide an optimal form of research support through all phases of research, in order to help researchers to make their data available for a broader audience. How can research institutions best provide research support? What facilities need to be in place? In which phase of the research? What can the research team pick up themselves and what needs to delegated? And to whom? And does the quality of support influence the research project?  
Rob Knapen (WUR), Sander Janssen (WUR), Laura Pander (TU/e) en Stijn Heeren (VU), all nominees of the Data Prize Award, presented their view on this. Animated discussions lead to the following take home lessons:

  • It is important that in an early phase of the research, researchers and research supporters know where to find each other. A 'grant office' could play an important role in bringing people together.  It turns out that in practice researchers take up tasks or delegate tasks that could be done by research support staff in the own organisation.
  • Managing and supporting users of data can be a complex and broad task. Having a good communication plan in place could help to steer the expectations of the public. Also, a clear point of contact where researchers and users can go to with their questions, would be useful.  
  • Outside the scientific domain the concept of FAIR data is experienced as less relevant.
  • At the start of a research project agreements should be made on “after care":  how to guarantee permanent access to research results in case of temporary financing of the project?

The presentations of this session are be available online on the wiki of the UKB Working group.


LCRDM held a session on privacy, sensitive data and the GDPR titled: De AVG in je DMP/The GDPR in your DMP.  The discussions between audience and panelists in this session focused on two topics: informed consent and encryption. Since the discussion was so vivid, the first session focused on the use of informed consent forms and the second session on encryption of data. Panel members were Salome Scholtens (UMCG), Mareike Boom (Leiden University), Joan Schrijvers (UvA/IXA) and Mo Bosma (UU).  The purpose of this session was to exchange best practices and share tips and tricks with colleagues from the various disciplines on these specific AVG related issues. It was discussed, for instance,  how to best administrate consent forms and to what degree encryption of data guarantees doing research in line with the AVG. In both sessions the Mentimeter gives and impression of the discussion: this one on informed consent and this one on encryption.


The RDNL session, titled Learn more on data support!/Leer meer over datasupport!, focused on the wishes and needs for in depth training for data support staff. Many data supporters in the Netherlands followed the RDNL training “Essentials 4 Data Support" when they were starting with their support tasks.
Data supporters and former Essential students Barbara Vermaas (Fontys) and Victor Eggenhuizen (NIOO)  presented their daily work in research support and stressed the importance of training and knowledge. They both experienced the RDNL-training as useful to gain a broader insight in how research data has been created and can be maintained in a proper way. The following discussion, facilitated by the three RDNL trainers, focused on the data management practice in the various research institutions, and made clear what the difference is between researchers at a university level and researchers in the public sector. Also – and not for the first time – the need for more skills in how to convince researchers to share their data was brought up.


The fourth session of NFU Data4LifeSciences dealt with “research as a service" and zoomed in on the best work environment for research. (Topic matched the title of the session). Both R-a-a-S-sessions attracted a large audience. The people attending were interested in how the various groups of researchers can streamline their research.
The research target groups that were presented by Hans van den Berg (AMC), described which types of  researcher need which infrastructure in the daily practice of university medical centers. Nevertheless these were also  recognized by the participants of the universities. The underlying document is therefore now being adapted for the entire research field and will be available via the Data4Lifesciences website.

This website also contains HANDS (Handbook for Adequate Natural Data Stewardship), of which the second version was launched in this session. HANDS 2.0 contains the data stewardship guidelines for everyone who works in a UMC, but is also an excellent source for everyone else who is looking for information about data stewardship. The presentation was held by Paula Jansen (UMCG)

Finally, two examples of collaborative environments in the cloud have been presented by respectively Jan-Willem Boiten (Lygature) and Laurents Sesink (Leiden University) on DRE and VRE, which researchers can use to process, share and publish optimal research results.

Lunch Break and Poster Sessions

The lunch programme formed a nice break between the rounds of panel sessions and gave some more insight in the nominations for the data prize, since the nominees were asked to give a in a series of vivid poster presentations. See the RDNL website for an overview of the posters. (Scroll down – overview is right under the programme).

The Award Ceremony of the Data Prize 2018

The closing session was reserved for the award ceremony of the Data Prize 2018. The award was presented to the winners by Stan Gielen (President of the Executive Board of NWO). The awards were given for research in three categories. In the social sciences and humanities the prize went to archeology project PAN (Portable Antiquities in the Netherlands). In the bio life sciences and medicine the prize was for biobank project BBMRI Omics. In the category technical sciences the award went to OpenINTEL. See here for more information on the Award ceremony.

Celebrating data!

No need to say that after a day full of celebration of data the farewell drinks with Prosecco and Cakes were very well received. The organizing team looks back at a very well attended event that gave the peers an opportunity to work closely in a very nice way.

What's next?

And now the question is of course: what's next?
We do not know yet, but maybe a mark on the horizon could be another nice cooperative event around the next data prize contest in 2020.

The organizing committee of Celebrating Data! What's next? was formed by Heidi Berkhout (DANS), Iris Vocking (DANS), Marjan Grootveld (DANS/RDNL), Jan Willem Boiten (Lygature), Petra van Overveld (LUMC, NFU D4LS), Paul Plaatsman (EUR/UKB WG RD), Fieke Schoots (Leiden University/UKB WG RD), Wouter Kool (Leiden University/LCRDM), Marijke Boom (Leiden University/LCRDM), Annemiek van der Kuil (Utrecht University/LCRDM), Iza Witkowska (Utrecht university/LCRDM), Susan Branchett (TU Delft/LCRDM), Boudewijn van den Berg (LCRDM/RDNL), Ingeborg Verheul (LCRDM). Thanks to all for the nice cooperation!