“The saying ‘there are lies, damned lies, and statistics’ is well-known. It is also known that data is needed to produce statistics. In the CODATA-RDA Research Data summer school we learnt how to manage data and to produce better … statistics,” says Information Science lecturer, Liezl Ball, about her experience of the summer school.
The Department of Information Science, in collaboration with DIRISA, SADiLaR and NeDICC, hosted the CODATA-RDA Research Data Summer School from 13-24 January 2020 at the University of Pretoria. The CODATA-RDA Research Data Summer School is widely represented, with international directors from the Royal Holloway University as well as the University of Oxford, with our very own Prof. Marlene Holmner and Dr. Martie van Deventer assisting as local organisers.
The summer school provides early career academics, specifically from Master’s level to post doctorate, with the base data science skills, including practical skills to assist them to work with their data in a productive and methodical manner. The aim is to provide confidence to researchers and professionals from all disciplines that work with significant amounts of data.
Several of the Department’s own early career academics attended the summer school, with representations from both the Information Science and Multimedia disciplines being present.
The summer school provided an introduction to a “variety of topics, including open science, research data management, and information security”, says ms. Ball, while the practical component of the programme included work in “Git Bash, code in R and having the opportunity to run a job in the Open Science Grid.”
As the summer school also considered ethical research practices, it provided several opportunities “for reflection and critical consideration of ethical implications of the use of ICTs during the information life cycle,” says Rachel Fischer, representative of the African Centre of Excellence for Information Ethics (ACEIE – located in the Department of Information Science).
As Kyla Yelverton, Information Science junior research officer, indicates, the Department is quite interested and excited to see the future of a collaboration between data science and information science, with the new content and technical skills adopted.