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ELIXIR-UK DaSH Fellowship

Dr Allyson Lister and Dr Philippe Rocca Serra become mentors

Collating suggestions on how to grow and sustain the ELIXIR-UK Fellowship

Collating suggestions on how to grow and sustain the ELIXIR-UK Fellowship

In 2021, ELIXIR-UK was granted a UKRI award for the ELIXIR-UK DaSH Fellowship. The University of Bradford and Cardiff University co-lead the project with delivery teams at the Earlham Institute and the University of Manchester. As the current round of ELIXIR DASH Fellowships draws to an end, and the training materials produced for UK Universities and beyond is being completed, we look back on this programme's relationship with the Oxford e-Research Centre, which has provided two Mentors, Dr Allyson Lister and Dr Philippe Rocca Serra, and has produced rich collaborations with fellows that will persist beyond the lifetime of the fellowships.

The ELIXIR-UK DaSH Fellowship aims to embed Research Data Management (RDM) know-how into UK universities and institutes. Data Steward Fellows create training materials and deliver local training in FAIR data stewardship using ELIXIR-UK knowledge and resources, such as the Oxford-led FAIRsharing, the RDMkit and the FAIR Cookbook. The project focuses on building capacity and professionalising the role of Data Stewards creating a data management culture change from within UK institutions.

We talked to Allyson about her experience of mentoring Elixir Fellows.

“We have a really dynamic and helpful relationship with ELIXIR, they have supported us in the advancement of the FAIRsharing project, and we have contributed our time to support their working groups in the pursuit of open science. I was delighted when, as part of their Fellowship programme, they asked if we wanted to be mentors for their UK node. In Oxford e-Research Centre, both Philippe and I agreed.”

“There are two ways in which we can do this: technical mentors who support the Fellows in implementing their activities, or, like me, content mentors who give them advice on accessing the content they need. The goal is to create training activities that will happen not just within their home universities but also across all institutions in the UK. The Fellows have been building up a lovely collection aimed at the entire research community, such as universities (that can use the ELIXIR-UK training materials to supplement their existing provision) and research projects (especially if the project does not have a dedicated Research Data Management Steward). And beyond individual organisations and projects, the ELIXIR infrastructure makes this material available to anyone around the world.”

“Each fellow has been allowed to choose the aspect of data management that appeals to them the most, what’s going to happen at the end of it and who they would like to mentor them. Two Fellows chose me.”

“It's been absolutely amazing for me because I’ve been working with them in a way that I’ve not experienced before. You can never know everything about your research area. Being a mentor allows me to discover what other people with other interests and backgrounds are bringing to data stewardship and data management.”

“For example, one of my Fellows, Ciara Loughrey has been working on equality, diversity, inclusion and justice. She opened my eyes to many little-known areas of tension, for instance, issues around ‘data decolonisation’ where data is gathered in one country but then stored and attributed to the researchers who are from another country. My other Fellow, Adam Partridge,  has been working on making a fundamental change in the perception of data sharing by integrating it from the very beginning and at every step along the way using Data Stewards or librarians already present in our universities. They have been creating wonderful training materials in an iterative workflow of composition and review. As part of this, I’ve learned more about the subject while also providing high-level feedback and suggested reading to support their work”

Fostering collaboration and a sense of community with team building activities

Adam told us:

“I’ve really enjoyed being mentored by Allyson – she is a font of FAIR knowledge and her expertise has been crucial for developing the outputs of the fellowship. Through her, I also became aware of the FAIRSharing community champions scheme, which I have now joined as well!”

Allyson explained, “you can’t live in isolation - if you want to make your research visible to as wide as audience as possible, you need to integrate it. We deliberately seek out collaboration and ELIXIR-UK, as part of a European infrastructure, brings us into that worldwide landscape. Through the Fellowship and the mentoring programme, and in all sorts of other ways, OeRC plays a key role in ELIXIR’s goal to encourage and support fair and open science.”

Allyson Lister named as RDA EOSC Future Domain Ambassador

ELIXIR-UK DaSH Fellowship