Authors: Daen Adriaan Ben Smits, Marta Teperek
This article provides an analysis of how sixteen recently graduated master’s students from the Netherlands perceive research data management. It is important to study the master’s students’ attitudes towards this, as students in this phase prepare themselves for their career. Some of them might become future academics or policymakers, thus, potentially, the future advocates of good data management and reproducible science.
In general, students were rather unsure what ‘data management’ meant and would often confuse it with data analysis, study design or methodology, or ethics and privacy. When students defined the concept, they focussed on privacy aspects. Concepts such as open data and the ‘FAIR’ principles were rarely mentioned, even though these are the cornerstones of contemporary data management efforts.
In practice, the students managed their own data in an ad hoc way, and only a few of them worked with a clear data management plan. Illustrative of this is that half of the interviewees did not know where to find their data anymore. Furthermore, their study programmes had diverse approaches to data management education.
Most of the classes offered were limited in scope. Nevertheless, the students seemed to be aware of the importance of data management and were willing to learn more about good data management practices.
This report helps to catch an important first glimpse of how master’s students (from different scientific backgrounds) think about research data management. Only by knowing this, accurate measures can be taken to improve data management awareness and skills.
The article also provides some useful recommendations on what such measures might be, and introduces some of the steps already taken by the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft).