The University of Pretoria’s Department of Information Science in collaboration with the Data-Intensive Research Initiative of South Africa (DIRISA), South African Centre for Digital Language Resources (SADiLaR) and Network of Data and Information Curation Communities (NeDICC) presented a CODATA-RDA Research Data summer school from 13 – 24 January 2020. This is the first summer school presented in South Africa and it provided early career researchers (M-level to postdoc) with the foundational data science skills. The participants were exposed to several useful tools/technologies and gained technical skills while responsible and reproduceable research practices also received considerable attention - to enable the students to work with their data in the transparent, effective and efficient manner required by 21st-century research practices.
The material covered by the programme is fundamental to all areas of research, and thus open to researchers and professionals from all disciplines that deal with significant amounts of research data. The goal is to provide a practical introduction to the following topics with some theory and extensive hands-on training:
-Open Science and FAIR data
-Git and GitHub
-Open and Collaborative Research
-Data Cleaning – using Open Refine
-Data Analysis and Visualisation (all research disciplines) – using R
-Machine Learning and Neural Networks
-Research Computational Infrastructures
-Research Data Management
Summer School Steering committee members. Teaching at the Summer School were (l to r): Juan Steyn (SADiLaR, Prof Marlene Holmner (UP), Dr Louise Bezuidenhout (University of Oxford, UK), Dr Bianca Peterson (NWU), Sara El-Jadid (Tofail University, Kenitra-Morocco) and Dr Martie van Deventer (UP). (Johann van Wyk (UP Library Services / NeDICC) was not present when the photo was taken and Prof Hugh Shannahan (Royal Holloway University of London, UK) participated via Skype.)
|Summer school 2020 group
The school attracted many applications, of these only a third, could be selected to participate. The following countries: Botswana, Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Nigeria, Sudan, Eswatini, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, were represented. One of the local organisers from the University of Pretoria, Prof Marlene Holmner in her closing remark mentioned that this school is essential for young researchers, PhD students, post-graduates as well as librarians who assist researchers, as these skills are crucial to survive within the 4th Industrial Revolution.
The CODATA-RDA Research Data Science Schools offer foundational and advanced data skills to the new generation of researchers and data scientists. Equipped with world-class data skills, these young researchers, from all over the globe, will be the future employees and users of the next generation of services: they will become the data scientists that industry and research desperately need. This was only the first of these schools hosted at UP. We anticipate that the success of this event will lead to several more.