At some European universities, data stewards have been established in the last years. They are supposed to be a link between academic research and technology as well as administration with respect to research data management (RDM). However, no homogenous profile has emerged within the academic sector for the precise tasks and responsibilities of data stewards so far.
For this reason, data stewards were interviewed in Austria and other European countries as part of the FAIR Data Austria project in October 2020. The interviewees either worked as data stewards or at least fulfilled some of their tasks. The aim of the interviews was to determine what requirements, areas of responsibility, skills and competences are expected of them. The following topics were addressed: Education, personal profile of the interviewees, organisational set-up, and financing of the positions. Furthermore, tasks and responsibilities as well as necessary (soft) skills and expertise were addressed.
All interviewees had a research background and practical experience with research data and RDM. In their work as data stewards, however, they acted primarily as communicators and mediators between research, technology, and academic service centres with the aim of facilitating the work of researchers and supporting them with appropriate tools and knowledge in RDM. Overall, the tasks of data stewards are very diverse and highly dynamic due to the novelty of this role. As such, data stewards go through a constant learning process.