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.
I am Olusola Ige O. Adetoro, a Postdoctoral researcher and Affiliate Staff at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA.
This summit, with a conference theme titled Radical Change and Data, expanded my understanding on data practices and its relevance for solving varieties of specific and general fundamental problems in the world. The focus also explored the potential of multidisciplinary approaches in data practices. The Summit emphasized the reuse of data to solve different problems and at the same time achieve quality results. The session Supporting Responsible Research with Big Social Data by Connecting Communities of Practice, by Sara Mannheimer, where she described Big social data to represent radical ways of securing data attracted more of my attention. Most of the data reused are used to advance discoveries in social science, which also considers present challenges in context, content, privacy, and intellectual property. This session added more value to the opportunity I have as a member and one of the coordinators of a laboratory called Space Applications and Environmental Science Laboratory (SPAEL) in Africa. This laboratory houses the GIS and Remote Sensing Unit, Climate Observatory Unit and the Monitoring of Environment and Security in Africa Hub where earth observation data is archived and made accessible as open-source data for STEM and social science researchers and professional bodies.
The summit was able to clarify the confusion I had about data practice sustainability. This is an aspect of concern to me as many fields presently engage in data curation and analysis. Many researchers are identifying themselves as Data Research Scientists or Analysts. This is a good idea to collaborate data practices both in the areas of data reuse and availability. However, it is important to strengthen data practice sustainability, which was clearly discussed during the summit. Another key issue discussed is the need to strengthen the power of multidisciplinary collaboration and partnership. This involves continuous dependence on data clusters that can be accessed not only within an institution or a local community, but globally. Many research institutions and organizations are beginning to enforce the rules on research students to submit all data acquired, captured, or utilized during their study before leaving the university or institution. The data achieved and used during the workshop session provided a bigger picture of the power of data. I am beginning to envisage what the world could become in the near future, with data practices/data archiving/data analysis. Another interesting aspect of the summit for me was the new approach to teaching of data management. We are presently in an era of high influx of people on online teaching modes basically caused by the COVID-19 Pandemic and this has increased the need for new teaching methods, one of which is storytelling. I was really impressed by the crowd sourced activities and this has enlightened and imparted me with another teaching method for data management.
Finally, my overall experience during the summit was productive and propelled a greater desire to improve my data practice skills.