Looking back at Better Research through Better Data 2020

What did we learn from moving a successful in person conference to the virtual format?

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In 2020 we re-imagined the highly successful Better Science through Better Data annual event as a series of online events, renamed as Better Research through Better Data (#BetterData).

Why change the name?

To reflect the growing importance of data across all disciplines we took the decision to rename the event series as Better Research through Better Data. As the conversations around research data develop we want to be intentional about our inclusion of social science and humanities researchers alongside those working in STEM disciplines.

What did we do?

We planned two types of events for 2020; a series of online webinar events aimed at those less familiar with research data management, and a roundtable event aimed at experienced research data professionals.

Online webinar events

For our series of one hour events we invited speakers from a range of European and North American funding bodies to present on their organization’s approach to research data, support available to researchers on managing data and their views on future research data developments. These events were aimed at early career researchers, grantees of the organization and anyone who wanted to learn more about research data management. We worked with our speakers to design each event to be as interactive as possible. Every event included attendee polls throughout the presentations, and every event ended with a question & answer session where attendee questions were put to the speaker. All of these events are available to watch on demand.

Roundtable event

We invited experienced research data experts to our roundtable event, which took place over 2 half days in November 2020.This event was designed as an exploration of impact of the FAIR principles, and we additionally asked our expert attendees to consider the fuller meaning of ‘fair’ on themes such as genetic data management and access to research data infrastructure. With networking opportunities greatly curtailed in 2020, we were pleased to also host a networking session for our roundtable attendees in a High Fidelity virtual space.

What benefits did we see?

Moving online had the key benefit of helping us to reach more researchers with useful information about research data sharing. Firstly, we greatly expanded the number of attendees who were able to join one or more of our #BetterData events. We saw a greater proportion of our most important stakeholders (researchers) attending the webinar event series as compared to the in-person events. We know from our annual State of Open Data survey that researchers need assistance with research data management, but often do not know where to get help and information. Bringing the funder view of research data to 472 researchers across all six events was a key benefit of moving to the online format. 

The most significant gain was the expansion of our geographical reach, to well beyond the European / North American axis. 

Location of attendees for the IDRC, HRB and European Commission webinar events

What’s next for Better Research through Better Data?

Look out for outputs from the roundtable event later this year, and celebrations to mark five years of the FAIR principles

We are currently planning the next series of virtual events for 2021. Tell us who we should invite to speak, and let us know what other research data topics you would like to see covered in the 2021 #BetterData series by emailing us at oor@springernature.com.  As ever we will be announcing future events here first, so keep an eye on this space to stay informed!

Varsha Khodiyar

Data Curation Manager, Springer Nature

As part of the Research Data team working on research data publishing initiatives at Springer Nature, Varsha leads the team of Research Data Editors working on Springer Nature’s Research Data Support service, and contributes to the design, development and delivery of Springer Nature’s research data training workshops. She is also responsible for curating and maintaining the Scientific Data and Springer Nature recommended repository lists. Varsha is an Executive Advisor of FAIRsharing.org, a member of CODATA’s International Data Policy committee, programme chair for the Better Research through Better Data conference series and a co-author of the TRUST principles.

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