Spotlight on: Anne Mutsaars-Aarts

Every other week, the Thematic DCCs and the Data Steward Interest Group (DSIG) put the spotlight on one research data steward working in the Netherlands, to stimulate knowledge exchange and peer-to-peer learning.

What drew you towards the research data management field?

Four years ago I was looking into jobs as my PhD contract was ending. I found this vacancy of a data steward at TU/e. I was sure that I did not want to continue as researcher, but also felt that I did not want to leave academia. The description of data steward looked very interesting and made me enthusiastic. I had never heard of this role before, but liked that I could still work with research data (I'm a epidemiologist by training so working with large volumes of data was very familiar to me) from a support role instead of from the researcher perspective. I also had the feeling that teaching in the broadest sense of the word would be part of this role and that research methodology, which lies close to my heart, would be important. After four years I'm still enjoying my job as a data steward (currently at Tilburg School of Social and Behavioral Sciences) and still learning every day.

What is an activity/task of your role that you find yourself looking forward to?

I like the variety of my job and learning from researchers. I like the meeting I have with researchers about their DMPs. Not just because of support a researcher with completing the DMP form, but more as those meetings provide me with the opportunity to learn more about new research projects starting at my school and to teach researchers more about RDM. I see those meetings as a mini training session in which I can explain both the importance of RDM as well as the things they can do to be compliant to funder requirements. Moreover, more topics are covered than the content of the DMP and I'm able to help them with other things such as requesting storage space, submitting for ethical approval and privacy agreements etc.

What is something unexpected that you can offer help with, if a colleague reaches out to you?

I really like topics related to compliancy such as privacy, ethics and legal things and have some experience with them. My biomedical background helps me with for instance medical ethical issues, while I'm following courses at our law faculty to learn more about the GDPR and new AI regulations.

What do you think your community of research data professionals is missing?

I really enjoy being part of the Dutch data steward community and think that great things are happening there. My local community at Tilburg University is still growing and I see that the right choices are being made. I will take some time and convincing of some schools to further expand our community, but I'm very hopeful about that.

What is a topic you would want to collaborate on with others?

Difficult question... Maybe on the topic of what new EU laws and regulations such as the Data Governance Act, AI act, could mean for our researcher and research data management and the type of support we offer as data stewards.

How would you like to see your current field of work evolve in the next 5 years?

I would like to see that academic community keeps on taking baby steps towards better RDM practices, Open Science and FAIR data and software. And see data stewards not any more as support staff in the process, but as their partners in crime.

Get in touch with Anne: Tilburg University staff page | LinkedIn profile

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