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Action Theme 4: Capacity Building & Human Dimensions

The demand for data skills among scientific researchers is growing. As the realm of data-enabled science expands, it becomes more and more important for researchers to have the skills to effectively find, understand, and reuse existing data, and to create data that are accessible to other scentists and the public. Moreover, transdisciplinary research poses the special challenges of cross-cutting work in multiple domains and social science.  This type of research produces a spectrum of project outputs that may not always fit with the typical data management process. Therefore, one of the main objectives of the e-I&DM project is to develop a workforce that can combine a well-developed understanding of environmental, social and health science with skills in data science, data-handling and computational methods and technologies.

The goal of Action Theme 4 is to research ways that the Belmont Forum can:

  • support the development of a holistic training and education curriculum in data-intensive environmental science, for delivery to environmental, social and computer scientists; and
  • launch the curriculum through the creation or endorsement of international short courses, immersive winter and summer schools, and online learning modules.

Curricula Framework

A Data Intensive Skills Curricula Framework was released in September 2017 and endorsed by the Belmont Forum at its annual Plenary Meeting in November.

The Curricula Framework outlines the critical elements of training meets these challenges with courses developed around five skills:

  1. Programming
  2. Particulars of environmental data
  3. Visualization
  4. Data management
  5. Interdisciplinary data exchange

This Framework accommodates three specific audience levels: core skills to promote reproducability and efficiency; a Principal Investigator course on team needs, planning, and management considerations throughout the entire data life cycle, and an optional section to introduce those with autonomous tasks to explore wider skills.

The recommendations report is supplemented by an outcomes report, which details background information and practical considerations for the execution and delivery of the Framework.

Course Development

Results from a data skills survey deployed in December 2016 to researchers and data mangers generated a Skills Gap Analysis. The Analysis was reviewed during a Data Skills Curricula Development Workshop held in Vienna, Austria in April 2017. The workshop convened training experts from around the world, including representatives from CESSDA (European Social Science), CODATA, FOSTER, ESIP, DataONE, and more. Participants offered insight on curricula development, development and deployment of training, optimal outcomes, and a process for community consensus and renewal. More information is available on the Curricula Development Workshop page. 

Next Steps

Human Dimensions Champion, Vicky Lucas, worked closely with the Coordination Office to drive the activities within this Action Theme until the release of the Framework in 2017. The C3O is pursuing collaborations to disseminate and promote the Framework through the ESIP Data Management Training Clearinghouse, the FAIR Data Initiative and other partners.