When lions play leapfrog! Adopting the CODATA-RDA Data Science Summer School curriculum for introductory data science training in South Africa

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01 October 2020 1978 reads




The challenge 

Postgraduates across Africa do not have access to the foundational data science and open research training that would allow them to become part of a growing community of researchers, who, if not fully skilled, would at least understand the rules of entering the arena of modern, open science. Such training material is available, but a curriculum has not yet been decentralised and localised for Africa because it is not clearly understood where to place the hubs of knowledge from which the training could be disseminated. There is general consensus that introductory level data science training is essential for all research disciplines – to the extent that some of us see it as an element of the digital literacies. South Africa did not, at the time of us adopting the curriculum, see any institution taking on a mandate to provide such training. From our Research Data Management (RDA) implementation experience, we also knew that it would be some time before generic training - which would put any post-graduate on a reliable path to understanding the data science ecosystem - would be developed in South Africa. We understood that gaining a holistic view of what is needed as foundation training requires a number of stakeholders to collaborate. The challenge was too many issues to address simultaneously if we wanted to start from scratch.


The RDA outputs adopted: 

The International Data Week in Botswana (November 2018) led to the identification of the CODATA-RDA Summer School curriculum as a possible way to address our need. The University of Pretoria Department of Information Science took the lead in providing a home for the initiative, and our selected partners assisted us in reviewing the curriculum for relevance. We found an excellent fit in the CODATA-RDA Summer School curriculum for data science. We needed to localise the content, but in essence we were ready to go.


The impact of the adoption: 

The most important benefit is that we were able to leapfrog from an existing, tried and tested initiative – which saved us considerable time. In addition, the knowledge that the training is also being rolled out to an international community gave us the assurance that we were on the right track. The alumni network linked to the initiative is another very important benefit. Our candidates were immediately pulled into a professional network that would, under different circumstances, take many years to develop. Similarly, the exposure to peers from different disciplines has created shared jargon and experience that we firmly believe will show impact in future. Martie van Deventer (UP)


The Adoption story told

The full story can be read and downloaded here












During the the RDA Global Adoption week the Robert Quick (Indiana Univerity) and Sara El Jadid (Ibn Tofail University) presented the Workflows for Research Data Publishing Models and Key Components RecommendationSlides are available here, watch the recordings:


Country of your organisation : 
South Africa
Stakeholder Classification of your organisation: 
Academia & Research