Wanted: Data Stewards — Drafting the Job Specs for A Re-imagined Data Stewardship Role

Blog by Stefaan Verhulst: “With the rapid datafication of our world and the ever-growing need to access data for re-use in the public interest, it’s no surprise that the need for data stewards is becoming increasingly more important every day. Organizations across sectors and geographies, from the United Nations Statistics Division to the Government of New Zealand, are all moving towards defining the roles and responsibilities of a data steward within their own unique contexts and use cases.

At The GovLab, we have long advocated for the professionalization of data stewardship through our research into the role of data stewards in fostering data collaboration, as well as our executive education courses at the Data Stewards Academy. The recent launch of The Data Tank, a non-profit dedicated to addressing the challenges and opportunities of datafication, which I co-founded, is another step in the right direction, creating a platform to explore data stewardship in practice and providing additional educational resources.

While these resources are no doubt valuable, we are still often faced with the question: What are the required competencies of a data steward? If I want to hire or train a data steward, what should the job specifications be?

With that in mind, we are initiating a process of crafting a job description for data stewards, outlining the responsibilities, skills, and behaviors of a data steward below. Such a job description may not only help organizations create formal data steward roles internally and recruit externally, but it will also help aspiring data stewards seek out the relevant training and opportunities for them to strengthen their skillset.

The job description below captures our initial thoughts on the role of a data steward, and we would welcome your insights on the roles and skills required to be an effective data steward. It is based on previous presentations shared publicly….(More)”.