In June 2022, after a trial period of the programme with our five early adopters (thank you Lindsey Anderson, Malin Sandström, Kyle Copas, Annie Elkjær Ørum-Kristensen, and Joe Miller!), we announced a call for domain experts wishing to join FAIRsharing as Community Champions.
We had a fantastic response, and one year later we have 18 Champions contributing across all subject areas! Please read on to find out what they’ve gotten up to, and register for our RDA webinar in November as part of RDA’s Decade of Data celebrations!
What have the Champions been up to?
The FAIRsharing Community Champions Programme is a thriving community of domain and discipline experts who choose to focus their efforts into one or more of the three programme activities:
- enrich the content of FAIRsharing, adding and enhancing the description and discoverability of these resources.
- create educational material describing these resources helping researchers and other stakeholders to find, use and adopt them.
- act as advocates to promote the value of standards, databases and policies for digital objects (incl. data, software).
Our Champions can choose to act as curators, enriching relationships and metadata for standard, database and policy records within FAIRsharing. They connect organisations from their research domain to associated resources, ensuring attribution for their work and the work of their community. The goal of this activity is to increase resource findability within their community as well as FAIRsharing’s coverage of the standards, databases and policies relevant to their research domain.
At the beginning of this year, we started tracking aggregated statistics of the efforts of the Champions within the FAIRsharing registry. It turns out that the Champions are quite an active group of people, and are happy to make edits and create new records.
It was our great pleasure to discover that the Champions had together created 100 new records in the first year, updated over 250, and made over 3000 edits. A truly astonishing amount of volunteering.
Create Educational Material
Another option for the Champions is to participate as educators, working with the FAIRsharing team to generate educational material appropriate for their research domain and the wider community. New infographics and other educational material will help inform their communities as well as the wider research community on the benefits of FAIRsharing and the resources it describes.
The first six FAIRsharing factsheets were released in March 2023, and each of the six were co-authored by a Champion, bringing their unique perspectives to the development process. Other factsheets are in development and will be added to our Educational page as they are completed. The image below shows an excerpt from our database factsheet by Neuroscience Champion Gabriel Pelletier (0000-0003-3257-0545).
As part of the current RDA / EOSC Future Domain Ambassador programme, ambassadors have been working hard to update the RDA’s discipline-specific educational content. One of our Champions, Daniel Costa (0000-0001-7271-430X), has been working with Pedro Mendes (Ambassador for Catalysis) on updates to the RDA Chemistry. Not only does this improve RDA’s provision for the Chemistry community, but also increases visibility for FAIRsharing within this domain. Information about how FAIRsharing helps many different disciplines has also been added to a number of these RDA discipline pages.
Act as advocates
Champions also find opportunities to work as advocates for the programme and for their particular contributions, showcasing how FAIRsharing can help their community. By managing the ecosystem of records within their domain of interest, they can (for example) improve resource discovery and aid gap analyses, as well as identify targeted outreach and engagement activities. We especially welcome any engagement in social media and other public outlets such as webinars and our blog. You can follow along with the conversation by keeping an eye on our #FAIRsharingCommunityChampions threads on Mastodon (see below) or Twitter.
In this first year, Champions from PNNL and GBIF wrote articles about their experiences as FAIRsharing Community Champions. Lindsey Anderson, FAIRsharing Champion for Omics, was our first Champion ‘in the spotlight’ with a blog post highlighting how she contributes and what she gets in return. Kyle Copas, FAIRsharing Champion for Biodiversity, contributed a joint GBIF-FAIRsharing news item about the collaboration grown out of the Champion Programme as part of the BiCIKL project.
What do the Champions have to say?
The FAIRsharing Community Champions programme is a collaborative endeavour, with Champions providing their time and expertise in return for recognition, professional development, empowerment and influence (for example, over future FAIRsharing directions and enhancements). We asked our Champions what they gained as members of the programme, and we’d like to highlight Lindsey’s response; gaining expertise in resource curation is one of the main benefits we aim to provide to our Champions. Her own words, and the comments from a variety of our Champions, are included below.
We’ve also asked our Champions to let us know what they would say to prospective new members. Malin Sandström, Community Champion for Neuroscience, talked about two of her favourite parts of the programme: engagement with like-minded people, and balanced support. FAIRsharing encourages its Champions to choose their path through the programme, aiming to ensure that they have a voice whenever they would like along the way, and Malin’s emphasis on support shows that this goal is being met, and that the programme is growing towards becoming a community of Champions.
Deborah Thorpe, Community Champion for Humanities, described how becoming a Champion places you firmly within the discussion around FAIR-enabling resources. FAIRsharing tries hard to ensure that our Champions have a voice – and multiple points of attribution – via the programme. Geneviève Michaud, Community Champion for Humanities and Social Science, describes how her conversations with Allyson and the team have been enjoyable and useful, and we feel the same! The benefits she has listed are exactly what we hope our Champions will gain: growth in curation expertise, visibility for their services, flexible volunteering opportunities and broadening their networks. Gabriel Pelletier, Community Champion for Neuroscience, has found it a rewarding experience as well, and we are certainly pleased to have his experience in Neuroscience.
What’s next for the Champions?
We always have more ideas than time at FAIRsharing, and now that the programme is rolling along nicely, we have some great ideas for our Champions to help with. Period curation ‘Sprints’ ensure that high-priority record enrichment is completed collaboratively with the FAIRsharing team and the domain expertise of the Champions; one such task is underway with regards to our database registry. In the coming year, as well as the three primary activities of content, education and advocacy, we’re planning to ask them for help in
- Exploring our rich relationship graph that connects our standard, database and policy records to each other, and further integrating this graph into the user experience
- Beta testing our new FAIRsharing Assistant, and integrating the needs of their particular domains and communities within the decisions the Assistant will help our community make.
Are you an expert in the standards, databases and policies relevant to your research domain? Are you looking to expand your professional network and promote your community, ensuring that the resources within your community are findable, accessible, and exposed to data management tools, knowledge graphs and other research software? We are looking for balanced representation across all disciplines. As a FAIRsharing Community Champion, you can help us help your community be more accurately and comprehensively represented with us. And in return, we have a lot to offer you.
- Recognition both within the FAIRsharing website and on your ORCID profile: full details are in the Attribution section of our About Community Curation page.
- Professional development – extend your professional network and gain curation expertise
- Empowerment – Being a community champion can help empower you in your professional role, broadening your perspectives within your subject area, and positioning you as an expert in the ecosystem of standards, databases and policies within your research domain.
- Influence – your opinion will direct the future development of FAIRsharing and its educational and training component.
There are always interesting aspects of FAIRsharing to learn about and contribute to, and we are always happy to entertain applications for new Champions. To learn more about the programme, as well as how to apply, see our dedicated Gitbook page on joining the champions programme.
Allyson Lister would like to acknowledge the following for support for her RDA / EOSC Future Domain Ambassadorship, under which she launched the FAIRsharing Community Champions Programme:
Supported by the Research Data Alliance through the RDA Open Calls as part of the EOSC Future project.
The project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement no 101017536.