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Scholarship winners reflect on RDAP21 Summit – Stephen Klein

April 05, 2021 2:45 PM | Laura Palumbo

The following post was written by an RDAP 2021 Summit Scholarship recipient. Scholarships were prioritized for those from under-represented groups, first-time RDAP attendees, early career professionals, and current students. Each recipient was asked to write a brief post on their conference experience.


As a Digital Services Librarian who wears many hats at the CUNY Graduate Center, I had mixed feelings regarding the RDAP Summit/Conference. Because I am relatively new to the field of Data Management, I was hoping for more tangible and practical moments regarding the actual development and composition of Data Management Plans and best practices in regards to actually managing data; for example, how to actually construct a strong plan and the best practices for preparing and storing data.  Maybe, I should have enrolled in the workshops, but a review of the workshop listings suggested that none were foundational, so I opted not to and hoped that the core conference sessions would touch upon and nourish missing elements in my toolkit.   However, I definitely appreciated that many of the sessions provided social, economic and cultural contextualization of data management. 

In selecting presenters, the Summit’s organizers were definitely consistent with Radical Change and Data, the conference’s theme.  Dr. Tonia Sutherland’s keynote set the table, tone, and tenor and accurately foreshadowed the rest of the conference, when Sutherland elaborated on the commodification of ‘digital remains’ which, for me, catalyzed much thought on how even the most innocuous of data could easily be manipulated to perpetuate inequities and how there should be [possible] right to be forgotten [digitally].  Some of the content within the presentations of Diversity Scholars' Data: Practices, Gaps, and Potential Resources session clearly emphasized how practices and structures have racism embedded in them and how these practices inform and influence future research. For example, the construct of ‘Asian American’ as a category is not scientific, but was policy orientated for administrative tracking purposes and how race was/is a method used to choose who to exclude. Yes, Heather Ganshorn Zahra Premji’s and Praetzellis’ sessions definitely had more practical moments to think about and I particularly enjoyed learning about Portage Network’s libguide to support the DMP Assistant tool, I still felt like many of the conversations felt insular and I was left needing more than just the sample. Although I was not fully nourished and foundational skills were not established during my first RDAP summit, thus I am probably not yet fully ready for primetime as an expert consultant to faculty and students in the art of data management plans, I definitely appreciated the thoughtfulness and theory surrounding the discipline shown by the summit presenters, suggesting that this corner of librarianship and archives management is occupied by those who are engaged and sensitive to the actual implications of their practices.


The RDAP community brings together a variety of individuals, including data managers and curators, librarians, archivists, researchers, educators, students, technologists, and data scientists from academic institutions, data centers, funding agencies, and industry who represent a wide range of STEM disciplines, social sciences, and humanities.


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