Data Steward, the fastest growing job

23 February 2024

According to LinkedIn, the profession of Data Steward is gaining popularity, ranking second in its list of the twenty fastest-growing professions of 2024. This trend comes as no surprise in the scientific community, where the importance of FAIR and open data for open science is increasingly recognised. Initiatives, projects, and communities are springing up rapidly, and universities, colleges, and knowledge institutes are increasingly appointing Data Stewards. We are also witnessing a steady rise in Digital Competence Centres.

DANS, with its mission to stimulate the reuse of data, fully embraces this development. Programs such as Recognition and Rewards (national) and the Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment (CoARA, international) demonstrate that not only the ‘classic’ publication and author are valued, but also the underlying data and the team that contributed to the research. DANS is one of the signatories of the CoARA covenant, thus contributing to the implementation of two core commitments: recognising and promoting the value of data as research output, and the crucial role of data stewardship in research.

Furthermore, DANS was one of the initiators of Research Data Netherlands (RDNL) ten years ago. This national coalition of data service providers is committed to the sustainable reusability of FAIR research data. Together with our RDNL partners, we offer an introductory course for Data Stewards, teaching the basic principles of the profession. And in the granting of the biennial Dutch Data Prize, which rewards the best dataset in the domains of Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH), Natural and Engineering Sciences (NES), and Life Sciences and Health (LSH), the role of Data Steward is becoming increasingly prominent. The work of Data Stewards is recognised as an essential part of creating high-quality datasets eligible for the Dutch Data Prize. Their efforts directly contribute to promoting data quality, reuse, and impact, emphasizing the value of their role within the research community. In the fall of 2024, the award will be presented again, and RDNL hopes for many nominations across the three domains.

The rise of the profession of Data Steward, as highlighted by LinkedIn as one of the fastest-growing professions of 2024, underscores the importance of data stewardship in the scientific community. This trend reflects the growing recognition of the crucial importance of FAIR and open data in promoting open science. With initiatives such as the Dutch Data Prize and involvement in organisations like Research Data Netherlands, DANS continues to advocate for the further development and recognition of the field of Data Stewards.

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