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.
Greetings, RDAP blog readers! My name is Angel Tang (she/hers), and since last December I have been the Data, Science, and Engineering Diversity Resident Librarian at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This past February I attended the RDAP Summit for the first time, and am very grateful for the generosity of the sponsors who funded my scholarship.
As a member of the Research Data Management Team at my institution, I co-lead workshops on research data management. In these sessions, we encourage open data practices and share tips on making project data accessible and easy to interpret even after the project ends. These workshops are one of the favorite parts of my role, as the classes are usually very engaged and have enthusiastic conversations about the steps they can take to advance their data management habits. My team has a very robust presentation that is quite information-dense, and it can feel a little awkward to lecture for long periods in a virtual setting. When watching the presentation by Alisa Beth Rod, NuRee Lee, and Sandy Hervieux of McGill University, I was really impressed by their ideas to add interactive elements, including polls and a file-naming activity. My team’s presentation has built in breaks for questions and reflection, but perhaps in future iterations we could discuss incorporating other interactive elements to create a more dynamic workshop.
Another presentation which inspired me to reexamine my teaching practices was Hannah Gunderman’s lightning talk, in which she gave her honest thoughts on the term “best practices.” I shared some similar anxieties around that phrase as I felt that I was encouraging students to aspire to a standard to which I personally would struggle to meet. In the future, I intend to use “recommended practices” instead as Hannah suggested. Data management is already an intimidating topic for some, and any small changes I can make to promote a more comfortable learning environment is a worthwhile endeavor.
The theme “Radical Change and Data” really resonated with me as I have learned more in recent years about how biased algorithms further the marginalization of vulnerable communities. To combat this, we need to push for Radical Change in democratizing access to and control over data. As a data librarian, I hope to nurture change by encouraging students and researchers to adhere to ethical practices which promote openness and accessibility as well as compassion and consideration for their research subjects. Spreading awareness of data ethics is one way in which librarians can help create a more equitable and safer data future for all, and I am grateful to the RDAP presenters who shared their experiences with and strategies for teaching data management.