Spotlight on: Bora Lushaj

Header image of Bora Lushaj with a profile photograph and a quote that reads: "It is within our ability as data stewards to move closer to the disciplines we serve, to co-create FAIR resources together with researchers"

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?

What drew my interest and what still keeps my interest in large part is the rewarding feeling of clarity and process that Research Data Management brings to the research cycle. That is also my experience as a researcher. By this I do not mean that we can offer perfect solutions, especially in the SSH domain. Yet, when considering RDM practices seriously, researchers are stimulated to probe the implications of their work within and outside of disciplinary conversations. Contextualizing research data within multiple frameworks: ethics, privacy, and information and knowledge management, I believe brings clarity and helps researchers make intentional decisions about their data and their research in general. In addition, I love the fact that it is an emerging field and that there is a lot of opportunity for contribution and impact.

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

In general, I am very keen on trying to bring order to chaos. As a data steward in SSH, I have ample opportunities to do just that. Joking aside, I very much like talking with researchers and inspire them to consider developing best practices that can also contribute to improved RDM in their (sub)disciplines, both through one-on-one conversations as well as faculty events. For example, last year at the International Institute of Social Studies, during our Data Management Before Summer campaign, we hosted a session on inclusive RDM that discussed, among other things, how to improve the representation of marginalized communities in research data. I know that this resonates with ISS's mission-driven research and I love to channel part of the scholars' scientific interests and ethical concerns towards their data.

Similarly, at my other faculty, the Erasmus School of Law, I organized a round-table session on co-creation methods, where our recently appointed Open Science Ambassador, Dr. Abby Onencan, showcased her award-winning approach for community-driven disaster risk reduction.

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

I am not sure if it is unexpected, but I have had some success in raising funds for different purposes. My most recent effort was successfully winning FAIR-IMPACT's first Open Call for FAIR support to help assess and improve the FAIRness of our institutional repository. I would be delighted if RDM colleagues approached me with a request to help strategize about funding, or write and review fundraising proposals.

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

I think what SSH data stewards in the Netherlands are missing is having a lot more skin in the game when it comes to improving the FAIRness of research data. That means building FAIR resources, artefacts, and expertise within specific domains. All data stewards have a research background and it is within our ability to move closer to the disciplines we serve in order to co-create FAIR resources with researchers, instead of only taking an advisory role and leaving the bulk of the work to them. I think this is also especially relevant if we want to make progress with making qualitative data FAIR and navigating all the ethical and methodological complexities involved. I hope soon we will have more incentives, opportunities, and time to grow in this direction, both from our faculties and universities, as well as the Thematic DCCs.

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

I would love to help create an ontology or structured vocabulary for a particular SSH domain close to the disciplines of my faculties (law and development studies).

Could you point us to a resource, learning platform, tool, or similar, which you find useful or inspirational?

I often go back to OpenHPI's MOOCs. That is where I started my understanding of linked data. Still work in progress 🙂

Get in touch with Bora: Linkedin profile

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