Upcoming Webinar: RDM Tools available at UWC and Unpacking UWC’s RDM Policy

Date : 21 April 2021, 11:00 – 12:00

Mark Snyders – Manager Scholarly Communication, UWC Library msnyders@uwc.ac.za
Sarah Schäfer – Research Data Specialist, UWC eResearch Office, sschafer@uwc.ac.za

For the Q & A session, presenters will be joined by Mattia Vaccari (Director, UWC eResearch Office) and Alfred Nqotole (Deputy Director, UWC Library Services).

Audience:  UWC Researchers – Staff and Postgraduate Students

Research data is the core of any research project, and its value can extend well beyond the initial project. Research data can also vary from highly confidential health data to publicly available statistics. Sharing research data can have many benefits such as developing further research, increased opportunities for collaboration and research impact. Research data, therefore, has to be managed with care and should adhere to established and institutional guidelines to protect not only the data, but also the rights of research subjects, researchers, research institutions and owners of research data. This webinar will focus on the guidelines provided by the UWC Research Data Policy that guides the management of UWC research data.

In recent years there has been a global increasing focus on Research Data Management (RDM), and on the secure storage and open sharing of research data. Institutions and funders have made clear strides toward identifying where and how research data is stored and how access to it is managed. In line with UWC’s new Research Data Management  Policy (section 13 of the Research Policy), all research data generated at the University are managed and curated to support the institution’s aspirations of a research–intensive university. In order to achieve this, the UWC research community can make use of various RDM tools. 

The webinar will briefly introduce some of the various RDM tools that are available to all UWC students and staff and are relevant to ensuring that RDM needs are met: 

  • Kikapu, UWC’s Institutional Research Data Repository. Kikapu provides a data storage facility where research data can be securely stored, shared and managed. 
  • REDCap, a web-based research productivity tool, empowers researchers to take control of their data collection and other research workflows. 
  • Data Management Plans (DMPs), written documents that describe and outline how data will be acquired, managed, described, analysed, stored, preserved and shared in the course of a research project. These documents should evolve with a research project, and develop as the project progresses. No two DMPs are the same, and elements vary from broad descriptions to very technical details.  

Zoom link for registration: https://uwc.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJwvceGhrj8uHteFv1twJqLckDeIwbHe4D7u

Webinar: Crafting a Data Management Plan

The UWC Library Research Support & Scholarly Communications hosted the Crafting Data Management Plans (DMPs) webinar on 6 April 2021. Mark Snyders, Manager of Scholarly Communication at the Library provided some background to Research Data Management (RDM) at UWC, and demonstrated how to create a Data Management Plan.

Watch the recording of the webinar:

The UWC DMP template can be accessed here.


SKIES (SKilled, Innovative and Entrepreneurial Scientists) is an EU-funded project launched at the beginning of March. It aims to provide PhD and young doctoral researchers in the field of astronomy with new transferable skills for academia and industry, integrating open science, social innovation and entrepreneurship topics.

Leiden University in the Netherlands is leading the project, and local PI Dr Lucia Marchetti (from UCT’s Astronomy department) is the lead for the South African involvement of the initiative. eResearch Director and Astroinformatics Research Professor Mattia Vaccari is involved in the project too, along with SARAO. The project will run for 18 months.

“While an advanced degree in STEM subjects has long been an excellent basis for a career e.g. in the tech industry, most graduates still have to pick up additional skills along the way. The SKIES project aims to bridge this gap by enabling Astronomy PhD students to build upon their strengths to develop into well-rounded scientists and professionals. This is particularly important for SA in the increasingly global talent search of the 4IR era”, says Prof Vaccari.

SKIES will be implemented in astronomy research organisations around the world, including South Africa, Germany, The Netherlands, Poland and Portugal, reaching 500 astronomy graduate students and young researchers. A Train-the-Trainer programme will build the capacity of the teaching staff in each partner country so that they have the knowledge and tools to continue the programme beyond the lifetime of the project.

“I am thrilled to be able to offer this opportunity to our PhD candidates. Their astronomy training already provides them many theoretical skills they can apply into a job outside academia, like programming and problem-solving. With this training, we will now show them how they can best exploit and translate their knowledge into a job beyond astronomy. In this way we will ensure that all our astronomy students are fully equipped for whichever path they decide to take after their PhD”, says local PI Dr Lucia Marchetti.

Madagascar Astronomy Python Workshop 2017. Credit: IAU Office of Astronomy for Development archive
Madagascar Astronomy Python Workshop 2017. Credit: IAU Office of Astronomy for Development archive

“The South African Radio Astronomy Observatory (SARAO) supports this exciting collaboration, which gives doctoral students the necessary skills for a smoother transition from academia to industry. It is expected that the SKIES project will lead to increased employability of doctoral students in industry or through entrepreneurship, who will be effectively working on high-impact areas to benefit broader society on the African continent. We look forward to implementing this training and development opportunity with our South African and European partners.”, says Dr Bonita de Swardt, SARAO Programme Manager: Strategic Partnerships for Human Capital Development.

The project summary can be viewed here.

Postdoctoral Fellowship at IBM Research Africa Lab

IBM Research Africa invites applications for postdoctoral positions to be held at the IBM Research Lab in South Africa, seeking outstanding candidates who obtained their doctoral degrees within the last five years. Applicants who are currently finalising their doctoral dissertations for examination may apply, provided that they will submit by 31 July 2021. The positions are tenable for eight months between May and December 2021.

Read more about the opportunity.

Women in Data Science (WiDS) Event

For international women’s day last week, H3ABioNet hosted a WiDS Africa regional event to engage the community of diverse women in Data Science.

WiDS Africa is an independent event that was organised by H3ABioNet (Pan African Bioinformatics Network for the Human Heredity and Health in Africa) in collaboration with MARI & dLabTz (Tanzanian Data Lab) as part of WiDS Worldwide conference organized by Stanford University. It features outstanding women doing outstanding work in the field of data science.

The recording includes the WiDS Stanford Livestream as well as featured Africa-specific lightning talks, panel discussions, Keynote speech, and ends with a networking event.

UWC’s Online Data Carpentry Workshop in April

An online Data Carpentry workshop will take place from 12-16 April, and is aimed at students and researchers who want to start learning how to work with their data. The workshop will be hosted by UWC and sponsored by SADiLaR.

Registration opens today!

Data Carpentry develops and teaches workshops on the fundamental data skills needed to conduct research. Its target audience is researchers who have little to no prior computational experience, and its lessons are domain specific, building on learners’ existing knowledge to enable them to quickly apply skills learned to their own research. Participants will be encouraged to help one another and to apply what they have learned to their own research problems.

For more information on what the Carpentries teach and why, please see the paper Good Enough Practices for Scientific Computing.

Lessons will include data organising and cleaning with OpenRefine, and data analysis and visualisation with R. No previous knowledge of the tools that will be presented at the workshop is necessary.

Participation is free, and there is a registration link on the site.  

Please contact eresearch-support@uwc.ac.za if there are any questions about the workshop, or contact Sarah Schäfer directly at sschafer@uwc.ac.za

Join the African Scientists Directory

The Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf) has invited African scientists/scientists working on African research to consider joining the African Scientists Directory. The directory aims at connecting African scientists across the globe, and assists in identifying experts in selected fields – whether it is to invite as part of a meeting, panel, or conference, to conduct article peer-reviews, to invite as an external examiner, to co-author an article or collaborate as part of a project, or for any other professional reasons.

This can be done in 3 simple steps: Register & verify email – Login – Submit listing

Once submitted, the profile will be reviewed and once all information has been verified, it will be published on the database. Selected information is open access, but also view the end-user policy and data privacy/security policy for this database.

Additionally, the African Open Science Platform pilot project was concluded in October 2019, and ASSAf recently received consent from the funder (NRF) to make the Landscape Report available through the ASSAf Research Repository. It can be accessed here.

The State of Open Data

On 25 February, Figshare hosted The State of Open Data 2020. The webinar’s focus was on the annual State of Open Data Report, and included presentations from three speakers. It gives an overview of the results of the study, and insight into what librarians, publishers and research data managers can do to help make data sharing an integral part of research.

A recording of the webinar can be viewed here.

Speakers included Dr Leslie McIntosh ( CEO of Ripeta); Dr Mark Hahnel (founder of Figshare), and Mariëtte van Selm (Information Specialist, University of Amsterdam).

The State of Open Data report includes survey results from 4500 participants and a collection of articles from global industry experts. It is the longest-running longitudinal study on the subject, which was created in 2016 to examine attitudes and experiences of researchers working with open data – sharing it, reusing it, and redistributing it.

Access the dataset here – https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.13274744

Meet Oko

Oko Lwana

Oko Lwana is the Administrative Officer at the eResearch Office. She works closely with the eResearch Director, Prof Mattia Vaccari, and is responsible for managing inventory, maintaining eResearch records, handling budget and office reporting, invoicing and providing customer service. Oko also assists with coordinating various activities, meetings, conferences and workshops.

Oko grew up in the Eastern Cape, and obtained her Project Management Degree at Cape Peninsula University  (CPUT).

She is currently busy with her MTech in Project Management and finds eResearch interesting because, as the importance of research capabilities grows, she learns something new every day.

She loves reading and socialising in her free time and going out to meet friends.

Meet the Director

Mattia Vaccari

Prof Mattia Vaccari was appointed UWC’s first Director of eResearch in April 2019. His role reports to the Deputy Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation and is responsible for the leadership and development of an eResearch strategy at UWC in partnership with data intensive research teams across campus.

Born in Italy, Prof Vaccari studied at the University of Padova and completed a MSc in Physics and a PhD in Space Science and Technology. He has since been a Research Fellow at Imperial College London, the University of Padova and UWC, which he first joined in 2011 and where he was most recently a Research Scientist with the Inter-University Institute for Data Intensive Astronomy (IDIA) and the Astrophysics Group. In his research, he uses ground-based as well as space-based telescopes to observe distant galaxies at all wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum and thus study their formation and evolution over cosmic time. He is also interested in applying Artificial Intelligence techniques to longstanding problems in observational astrophysics such as source detection and classification.

Prof Vaccari has contributed to the design and developed data processing algorithms for several space satellite astrophysics missions by ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA. In particular, he contributed to the design of the GAIA space astrometry mission and to the development of the ground segment for the Herschel Space Observatory. At IDIA he leads the HELP-IDIA Panchromatic Project (HIPPO), whose aim is to create a cloud-based environment where astronomers can effectively exploit MeerKAT data in the context of multi-wavelength data.

Read more about Prof Vaccari on his web page!