One year of the 4TU.ResearchData community: Reflections, achievements and looking ahead

Welcome back and Happy New Year! 🎉

We hope you feel well rested and refreshed after an enjoyable festive break. We’re kicking off 2022 with some reflections and achievements from the past year as we celebrate the first anniversary of the 4TU.ResearchData community.

Thank you to our members

2021 was another difficult year as many of us continued to work from home and navigate our work-life balance during the global pandemic.

Despite the great uncertainty brought about by this new way of working and the various challenges of establishing a community online, together we’ve built and supported a community comprising more than 140 members. We’re extremely proud!

We’d like to thank every individual who has joined, contributed and supported our mission and vision to make the first year of the 4TU.ResearchData community a success; it would not have been possible without each and every one of you!

Community growth

Our community welcomed its first members in November 2020 and steadily grew over the course of last year to include 145 community members in our Slack workspace and 180 newsletter subscribers.

Built around the international 4TU.ResearchData repository, our community is open to anyone interested in FAIR data and Open Science.

In our first year, the vast majority of our members (76%) who joined were from our partner institutions; Delft University of Technology, the University of Twente and Eindhoven University of Technology

Thirteen percent were represented by ‘Other’, including members from a variety of research organisations: 

In the coming year, we will be enthusiastic to welcome more members from our new bronze member institution, Wageningen University and Research.

Community composition

By the end of 2021, the community evolved to become a 50:50 split between academics (researchers and students) and research data management (RDM) support staff.

The largest proportion of researchers who joined were PhD candidates (23%); and the largest proportion of RDM support staff were data stewards (19%).

The ‘Other (RDM support)‘ category includes members with various job profiles related to RDM, such as ‘information specialist’, ‘data curator’, ‘data engineer’, ‘data trainer’ and ‘policy maker’.

We recruited community members from an array of scientific domains, however, more than half of our members worked in ‘Electrical engineering, mathematics and computer science’ and ‘Health & Technology’ related research fields.

In 2022, we hope to explore and pilot new community initiatives to interest and support members from other technical science research disciplines.

Supporting researchers

The 4TU.ResearchData community aims to support researchers by helping them make their research data and software code as Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR) as possible.

Communication has been key 🔑

During the first quarter of 2021, we set up our Slack workspace with 9 public channels covering a range of relevant RDM topics, including #training_events_and_resources (for sharing learning opportunities, conferences and materials), #repository (for asking questions and sharing updates about 4TU.ResearchData) and #social-hour (for organising virtual coffee catch-ups, games nights and general chit-chat!)

Collaborative projects 🤝

We’ve been busy working with researchers on various FAIR data and Open Science projects that we hope will benefit the wider research community.

Here are some projects we’re excited to continue working on in 2022!

'JupyterFAIR' with Serkan Girgin
‘JupyterFAIR’ with Serkan Girgin


This successful NWO Open Science fund project aims to develop and operationalise the open-source software tool, JupyterFAIR, for seamless, “one-click”, integration of research environments and data repositories, including metadata transfer and data quality checks. 

'Data Foundry-4TU' with Mathias Funk
‘Data Foundry-4TU’ with Mathias Funk


We’re shaping the future of data-enabled design by integrating ‘Data Foundry’, an online infrastructure for prototyping and designing with data, and 4TU.ResearchData.

'Impact Aware-4TU' with Alessandro Saccon
‘Impact Aware-4TU’ with Alessandro Saccon


We’re assisting Alessandro and his team with the publication of data collections in 4TU.ResearchData, and the integration of these collections with their TU/e Impact-Aware Robotics Database.

'FAIR-4TU' with Luiz Bonino
‘FAIR-4TU’ with Luiz Bonino


A new project to implement a solution integrating the FAIR Data Point with the 4TU.ResearchData repository.

Recognising good practice 🏆

Part of supporting researchers is to recognise and reward their efforts and achievements. We started highlighting the work of community members by publishing their personal ‘researcher stories‘ on our community platform and social media channels.

Here are some of our greatest hits!

Nadia Bloemendaal<br>
Nadia Bloemendaal

The story behind an RDNL Dutch Data Prize winning ‘STORM’ dataset that has been downloaded almost 6,000 times since its publication in 4TU.ResearchData.

Arnd Hartmanns
Arnd Hartmanns


A computer scientist shared ways of developing methods and tools that are Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable (FAIR). 

Diah Apriyanti
Diah Apriyanti


How can you tell more than 25,000 Orchid plant species apart? RDNL Dutch Data Prize winner, Diah, has developed a tool to help.

Max Ligtenberg and OperationAIR
Max Ligtenberg and OperationAIR


Let’s rewind to when the Covid-19 pandemic first hit and commend the work of a student team who made a significant impact.

Daniela Maiullari
Daniela Maiullari


Here’s the story of a PhD researcher who modelled the energy and the microclimate performance of the new urban district of Floriade being constructed in the city of Almere in the Netherlands.

Kostas Gkiotsalitis <br>
Kostas Gkiotsalitis

An Assistant Professor shared his software models for modifying the public transport demand during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mark Schelbergen <br>
Mark Schelbergen

Mark’s doctoral studies aimed to advance the wind energy sector one step further by developing innovative and cost-effective alternatives to conventional wind turbines.

Jeroen Klein Brinke<br>
Jeroen Klein Brinke

Making waves with WiFi data! Take a look at how human activity affects the behaviour of radio waves. 

Data in the spotlight 🔦

In 2021, we showcased more than 70 published datasets from our 4TU.ResearchData partner institutions to recognise and reward good data and code sharing practice.

Your daily dose of data!

Together, with communications Advisor, Deirdre Casella, we disseminated a weekly post about a recently published dataset in our Slack, Twitter and LinkedIn channels. Here are some of our recent tweets!

2021’s top downloaded datasets

Inventory of RDM policy for a selection of academic publishers and journals in 2016
Inventory of RDM policy for a selection of academic publishers and journals in 2016


Author(s): Rutger de Jong, Henk van den Hoogen, Fieke Schoots, MariÍtte van Selm and Madeleine de Smaele.

Institution: Delft University of Technology, UKB Working Group Research Data

Categories: Library and Information Studies, Policy and Administration

Total downloads: 5,347

BPI Challenge 2019 <br>
BPI Challenge 2019


Author(s): Boudewijn van Dongen

Institution: Eindhoven University of Technology

Categories: Information Systems, Business and Management

Total downloads: 3,015

SandT-Pro: Sand Transport Process measurements under Breaking and Irregular Waves<br>
SandT-Pro: Sand Transport Process measurements under Breaking and Irregular Waves


Author(s): Joep van der Zander, Jan Ribberink, Tom O’Donoghue, Dominic van der A, David Hurther, Peter Thorne and Iván Cáceres.

Institution: University of Twente

Categories: Geology, Physical Geography and Environmental Geoscience

Total downloads: 1,430

Image-based size estimation of broccoli heads under varying degrees of occlusion
Image-based size estimation of broccoli heads under varying degrees of occlusion


Author(s): Pieter Blok, Eldert van Henten, Frits van Evert and Gert Kootstra

Institution: Wageningen University & Research

Categories: Agriculture, Land and Farm Management,
Artificial Intelligence and Image Processing

Total downloads: 881

Lifecycle ageing tests on commercial 18650 Li ion cell @ 25°C and 45°C
Lifecycle ageing tests on commercial 18650 Li ion cell @ 25°C and 45°C


Author(s): Khiem Trad

Institution: Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO)

Categories: Energy Storage, Distribution and Supply

Total downloads: 5,684

FAIR Data Funds 💰
We funded 12 FAIR Data Fund applications!
We funded 12 FAIR Data Fund applications!


The FAIR Data Fund offered researchers from the 4TU.ResearchData partner institutions a budget (up to €3.500) to cover the costs of making their data FAIR.

Community calls 📞
We hosted two community calls in 2021
We hosted two community calls in 2021


Each one-hour long webinar brought around 30 attendees together from various research institutions to learn about:

In 2022, we plan to host more regular community calls on disciplinary data management. We welcome input about the topics for discussion. Please let us know if you’d like to present or suggest a new topic for a call.

Testimonials 🥇

“The nicest thing about the community is the community aspect itself. Knowing that you are not alone in this and it is reassuring that we are all trying to find solutions and provide RDM services in this unchartered territory”

— Sjef Ollers, Data Steward


“This community quickly helped me learn about tools for handling version control in Excel! That was really handy!”

— Eri van Heijnsbergen, Data Stewward


“We decided to share 735GB worth of data grouped into a collection of five datasets totalling 1,650 separate files… What’s easy for humans to understand can be complicated for complex software systems to implement. The large size and number of data files amounted to a stress test for 4TU.ResearchData’s data repository. The data curators [at 4TU] indicated alternative channels to continue the work and committed themselves to getting the job done… Their persistence, patience and application proved essential to finish the work.

— Giordano Lipari, Postdoctoral researcher


My dataset has been downloaded more than 4,000 times… A huge part lies in the accessibility and workability of the data, and that’s definitely complete credits to the 4TU data curators. They helped me make the most of the metadata, and pointed me towards any unclear bits.”

— Nadia Bloemendaal, PhD researcher


“Being engaged in the community, I’m better equipped. With other data supporters from the 4TU universities, we discuss common problems and work  together to find potential solutions.  Together, we are stronger!””

— Qian Zhang, Data Steward

A community for research data supporters

Many of our community initiatives have focussed on providing opportunities for data stewards and other RDM support staff to connect and exchange knowledge, and best practices.

We also hope that our community activities can continue to bridge the gap between researchers and RDM supporters who are there to help!

Working groups & deliverables 💡

In January 2021, we launched working groups for RDM support professionals from the 4TU.ResearchData partner institutions to share experiences and develop resources to benefit the research community.

We currently have three active groups working on topics relating to:
FAIR & reproducible code
Privacy & GDPR
Engagement & education

Research support stories ⭐️
Judith Brands
Judith Brands


How do I get, use, trust, build upon and reuse your data?

Take a look at this series of five micro lectures on RDM for Bachelor’s students!

Santosh Ilamparuthi
Santosh Ilamparuthi


A Data Access Committee was developed for the faculty of Electrical Engineering Mathematics and Computer Science (EEMCS) at TU Delft as a pilot initiative to evaluate the need for controlled access to personal data within technical universities within the Netherlands. 

Anne Aarts
Anne Aarts


Anne Aarts joined the team of data stewards at Eindhoven University of Technology in May last year. She shared her experience of transitioning from cancer epidemiologist to data steward during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Jan van der Heul
Jan van der Heul


A day in the life of a data curator: the steps, challenges, and rewards of the data review process. Jan takes us behind the scenes to the back office of 4TU.ResearchData.

Yan Wang
Yan Wang


What are the challenges and observations of working with interdisciplinary data? Yan shares a data steward’s perspective after attending a session about the ‘Challenges of Curating Data from Interdisciplinary and Collaborative Research’ at last year’s RDA Plenary.

Training & events 🎓

Although Covid-19 restrictions meant we couldn’t meet in person, last year was jam-packed with opportunities for learning and networking. Here are some highlights from 2021…

Python essentials for GIS learners
Python essentials for GIS learners


Using simple geospatial datasets as examples, workshop instructors Ashley Cryan and Jose Urra Llanusa taught fundamental concepts of programming with Python, version control with Git, working with the command line, and how tools for each skill can be used to find, explore, produce, and share FAIR geospatial data.

Train the trainer workshop: Best practices for writing FAIR and reproducible code
Train the trainer workshop: Best practices for writing FAIR and reproducible code


4TU.ResearchData’s FAIR and Reproducible Code Working Group conducted an online ‘Train the Trainer’ workshop for research data management support professionals to learn best practices for writing FAIR software code. 

Coding Confessions: Celebrating the SSI COLLABW21 Hack Day Runners-up!
Coding Confessions: Celebrating the SSI COLLABW21 Hack Day Runners-up!


Trainer on Research Data Management and Open Science, Eirini Zormpa, attended the Software Sustainability Institute’s Collaborations Workshop. During the Hack Day, Eirini’s team won second place for their project ‘Coding Confessions’. 

What to do with your data after your research?
What to do with your data after your research?


The University of Twente’s Digital Competence Centre organised a thematic session that focused on what researchers should do with it after their research project is complete. Watch a demonstration of how to use 4TU.ResearchData to upload your data and code!

How to manage data: Data stewardship and FAIR skills
How to manage data: Data stewardship and FAIR skills


In this interactive talk at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Research Data Management Symposium 2021, Laurent Gatto and Marta Teperek join forces to offer some concrete examples on improving research reproducibility and transparency.

EMBL-EBI: Bioinformatics for PIs
EMBL-EBI: Bioinformatics for PIs


A workshop on ‘Planning your data management’ during the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) course on ‘Bioinformatics for Principal Investigators’. Nineteen international participants joined the workshop to learn about data management plans!

We enjoyed participating in a range of conferences and symposia last year. Here’s a shortlist of some more events we were involved in:

  • Building a community for FAIR Data – A presentation delivered during an online webinar organised by the University of Applied Sciences to gain insight as they develop their DCC Hub. 
  • Repository services and community building for FAIR data – A presentation delivered during two webinars for the Architecture Work Group of the Flemish Research Data Network. 
  • 4TU.ResearchData: Building a community for FAIR data – A presentation about the development of the 4TU.ResearchData community delivered during the final day oft the Research Data Netherlands (RDNL) Essentials for Data Support (E4DS) course. 
  • 4TU.ResearchData: Building a community for FAIR data – A presentation about the development of the 4TU.ResearchData community delivered during a Programme Team Consultation meeting at VU Amsterdam. 
  • 4TU.ResearchData on FAIR data – A presentation delivered during a 1 hour webinar hosted by figshare.
  • Community Building for FAIR Data – UKCBCB 2021 – A presentation about the development of the 4TU.ResearchData community delivered during session at the UK Conference of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology 2021.
  • Leiden community building workshop – A presentation about the development of the 4TU.ResearchData community delivered during a workshop session at the Leiden Research Support Conference. 
  • BP2021 Webinar: 4TU.ResearchData and publishing FAIR Data – A presentation delivered during the ‘Spanish Portuguese Congress on Plant Biology’ to showcase researchers’ perspectives on using the 4TU.ResearchData repository.
  • Communication, outreach and engagement for long-term sustainability of 4TU.ResearchData – A presentation delivered at the Workshop Advance management and operation of university-related infrastructures organised by CESAER to explain the communication, outreach and engagement plan for long-term sustainability of 4TU.ResearchData.
  • 4TU.ResearchData: The Community –  A presentation delivered at the Open Repositories 2021 conference (OR2021) to showcase 4TU.ResearchData’s community building initiatives and impact. 
  • 4TU.ResearchData & the community beyond – A presentation delivered at figshare Fest 2021 about the 4TU.ResearchData data repository and initiatives that aim to build the community around the technical infrastructure. 
  • Engaging researchers with data management: A toolbox – A workshop designed for data stewards at Wageningen University and Research (WUR). The interactive format included breakout sessions to discuss the common challenges (barriers) and opportunities (tools, tips, tricks and techniques) of engaging researchers with data management. 
  • 4TU.ResearchData FAIR Data Fund – A presentation delivered to Utrecht University staff members about 4TU.ResearchData’s FAIR Data Fund. The presentation covers the benefits of making research data FAIR and provides information about the Spring call for applications.
  • 4TU.ResearchData & Data Stewardship – A presentation delivered during a virtual Open Science meeting organised by the library at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. 
  • 4TU.ResearchData: The Community – A keynote presentation was delivered at the virtual Research Data Alliance’ 17th Plenary meeting (Edinburgh) during Breakout 8 session ‘Engaging researchers with data IG: Engage locally. Act globally’ to introduce 4TU.ResearchData as a data repository and multidisciplinary community.  

Looking ahead

As we reflect on our achievements from 2021, we’re excited for another fun and fulfilling year in 2022!

Towards the back end of last year, we were quietly working on some new community initiatives and a communication strategy that we’ll share with you in the next few months.

We’re kicking off the new year with a focus on showcasing data and code from ‘agriculture, animal, and plant science‘ research disciplines. If you have some interesting data or a research story you’d like to share get in touch!

If you’re interested in joining our community or have a suggestion you’d like to share, please contact us. We’re here to support you.

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