24 Fellows have been supported to create learning materials and train locally within their fields of FAIR data expertise through leveraging existing resources, material and contact points within their institutions.
These activities have supported a short-term mission to develop a sustainable data skills training programme in the Life Sciences, realised through embedding material locally into existing in-house training programmes and research infrastructure.
This Fellowship now front-loads a longer-term vision to grow a FAIR data community and national capacity in Data Stewardship. Through mobilising ELIXIR communities, services and platforms, we aim to support Fellows and UK Data Stewards in becoming FAIR data ambassadors within a network of peers and mentors.
This community aims to:
- Support professionalising data stewardship in the life sciences.
- Develop resources to help researchers make their data FAIR.
- Upksills life sciences professionals about the importance of making their data FAIR.
- Work with publishers to make sure that data is published in a FAIR way.
Tailoring activities with a conscious approach to existing resources
Short informative videos (3-5 minutes) to describe basic and specialised aspects of RDM.
Contribute to existing resources with knowledge and expertise from Fellows.
Developed courses and workshops on basic and specialised topics in an open and reusable format
Bringing the knowledge and expertise to professionals within Fellows’ organisations and virtual communities
Embedding resources locally and amplifying the work of ELIXIR and this Fellowship
Sponsor Fellows to attend conferences and meetings with a focus on FAIR data or capacity building in bioinformatics
On 15 September 2023, the ELIXIR-UK Fellowship reached a significant milestone, celebrating three years of extraordinary accomplishments at a unique retreat. The event, which united 20 dedicated participants, including Fellows, Mentors, and the coordination team, reflected on the journey so…
Fostering collaborations and upskilling the workforce: ELIXIR-UK Fellows shine. Two ELIXIR-UK Fellows, Gabriela López González from the University of Leeds and Richard Ostler from Rothamsted Research, were invited to speak at the NERC Digital Gathering in July 2023. The event…
The community’s landscape
Expanding our reach beyond the ELIXIR-UK Network
We have embedded the Fellowship program within the broader ELIXIR-UK strategy, granting Fellows long-term support for their work with a national and international outlook.
Through UKRI funding gained in 2021, the Fellowship has founded a network of Data Stewards in a seedcorn group of UK research-performing organisations. A cohort of 24 Fellows across 17 organisations, spanning diverse bioscience disciplines, have mobilised their Research Data Management colleagues in libraries and research offices.
Fellows come from both ELIXIR-UK members and other UK research-performing organisations, epxnading the reach of our network and mission. As a result, some Fellows have spearheaded the application of their organisations to join the UK Node.
Embedding Fellows into the Node’s core activities
Within the ELIXIR-UK community, dedicated RDM and training working groups facilitate cross-disciplinary cooperation, with monthly meetings that also include the active participation of the Fellows.
Opening up Fellows to the wider ELIXIR Europe network
Such groups are also connected to the pan-European ELIXIR Communities, including the recently established Research Data Management Community and the ELIXIR Training Platform. Members of the fellowship coordination team lead many of these activities.
Partnering with other initiatives and ELIXIR members
In addition, we are working with the ELIXIR Netherlands and Luxembourg Nodes to build their national data stewardship fellowship based on our success.
Our partnership with the Software Sustainability Institute (SSI) and the Galaxy Training Network, further provide us with valuable expertise in building communities of practice and fellowship programmes.
The community’s operational essentials
A support system: the coordination team
Our Fellows have continuous support from a dedicated coordination team, creating a sense of belonging within the ELIXIR-UK initiative. This support extends to:
- Diverse communication channels: A variety of active communication channels, including Slack, emails and online/face-to-face meetings, facilitate knowledge sharing not only related to the Fellowship outputs but also support Fellows in their daily work and career growth.
- Regular troubleshooting sessions: several monthly drop-in sessions to troubleshoot issues, address common challenges and exchange valuable insights have kept the Fellows supported and connected.
- Community engagement: Monthly or bi-monthly community calls and yearly in-person retreats have given a space to discuss relevant topics with speakers to introduce valuable tools, resources and initiatives. Fellows have used this space to showcase progress, inspire others, solicit constructive feedback and shape the activities of the Fellowship.
- Onboarding process and community intranet: documenting and ensuring all community members have the required information is crucial to our success. For instance, all Fellows attend an inaugural meeting, complete the ELIXIR Train-the-Trainer and have access to a centralised intranet with guides, templates and resources.
“The organisation, dedication and enthusiasm of staff has been exceptional and inspirational.”
“I loved the supportive and positive environment.”
“The Train the Trainer course at the start has been incredibly useful. This was my first time attending a course of such a kind, and it will reshape how I teach. Thank you.”
Guidance through mentorship
Venturing into building capacity in data management with a blank canvas can be a daunting task. Our Fellowship program has weathered this challenge by harnessing a collaborative environment. One of the cornerstones of our success is the close partnership between Fellows and their dedicated Mentors – members of the ELIXIR-UK community.
These Mentors are pivotal in guiding Fellows to identify areas where they can make the most relevant impact and address critical training gaps in data management.
Some are domain experts with deep connections in specific areas, such as health data within ELIXIR. In contrast, others focus on training methodologies, formats and most suitable platforms, such as the Carpentries and Galaxy Training Network.
“The Mentor Scheme is a great approach to bounce ideas off and keep the momentum with Fellowship activities.”
“I got a lot of energy and encouragement from my mentor during our 1-1 meetings. So helpful.”
Compensation and recognition
Recognising and compensating the contributions of our Fellows and Mentors is a central pillar of this initiative. Fellows receive an honorarium for the time invested in the activities within this Fellowship.
While financial compensation is not the primary motivation for our Fellows, we strongly believe in professionalising data stewardship as an essential component of research. This goes beyond being an afterthought or an additional burden on researchers’ daily responsibilities and into an enticing career path that supports the work of researchers.
A badge of recognition as ELIXIR-UK Fellows
While we welcome professionals who work with data in the life sciences at any career stage, a panel of experts scrutinises applications.
All candidates must not only demonstrate a strong understanding of data management in their fields but also have excellent communication and teamwork skills. Only some can pass this thorough selection process, not only guaranteeing excellence but also providing our Fellows with a badge of recognition for their skills and experience.
Several Fellows have attested to the amplified impact of their voices in advocating for data management best practices in their organisations after becoming ELIXIR-UK Fellows. After being selected, they had a stronger voice in meetings, a motto we have adopted in our outreach: “Trust me, I’m an ELIXIR-UK Fellow.”
“As a Fellow, I gained influencing power at my institute for RDM. It gave me more authority. I’m no longer a single voice saying we should care about RDM. Instead, I have the ELIXIR-UK community behind me. Don’t underestimate that value!”
What our Fellows say about their experience
This project was funded as part of the UKRI Innovation Scholars: Data Science Training in Health and Bioscience call (DaSH). (MR/V038966/1)