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This blog is by Stephanie Lee, Chief Growth Officer and Co-Director of the ADR Wales training and capacity building programme in Population Data Science at Swansea University. Stephanie shares her thoughts on the crucial role of data research scientists and the new Datacise Learning Platform to future-proof data research.

Who are data research scientists?

 

In an era where data reigns supreme, the role of data research scientists sitting within academia, government, the third sector, and industry has never been more vital. They stand at the vanguard of novel insights, tasked with navigating vast landscapes of information to uncover valuable findings and discover new trends, driving positive change. What sets data research scientists apart is their unique blend of knowledge and skills — drawing from diverse disciplines and combining their domain expertise with data science, statistical analysis, and research methodologies to extract meaningful insights from large and complex datasets.

 

At the heart of their work, they unravel complexities that are inherent in enormous amounts of data. They link data from various sources to conduct health and social research, data-driven evaluation, and inform evidence-based practice. Their efforts are instrumental in harnessing the power of data to address pressing societal challenges and enable better-informed policy decisions that improve people’s lives.

Stephanie Lee

How do we empower them?

The ADR Wales training and capacity building programme is supporting the delivery of ADR UK’s strategic objective of increasing the number of trained researchers with the skills to analyse complex linked administrative datasets in the UK.

Our programme is designed to support researchers in becoming confident users of administrative data by providing:

  1. collaborative learning, also known as peer-to-peer learning: where individuals with distinct knowledge and expertise come together to learn from one another.
  2. the essential knowledge and confidence to work with administrative data: through adaptive and experiential learning formats, researchers will be trained to become competent trusted research environment (TRE) and dataset users.
  3. competencies-based training: this focuses on practical knowledge and skills applicable in real-world scenarios. This programme offers a range of short courses, from entry to advanced-level, tailored to develop the specific skills and competencies researchers require for their project work.
  4. a flexible training environment: this personalises learning and tests researchers’ knowledge, allowing them to take charge of their learning journey.

Datacise: our solution to meeting training needs

ADR Wales training courses are being delivered through the new Datacise Open Learning platform in partnership with colleagues in Population Data Science at Swansea University, SAIL Databank and other institutions in the UK and internationally.  

Datacise is a collaborative platform that offers diverse learning resources and training courses for the data science and research communities, designed to equip researchers to access and use data more effectively and support their learning journey. Its competencies-based courses are tailored to upskill those working across the health and administrative data landscape.

Following consultation, Datacise has identified five training categories that are delivered through its platform to meet training needs, as seen in the diagram below.

Credit: The design thinking methodology for the consultation and brainstorming workshops was devised by Prof. Dr Adam Chee (lead), Dr Pete Arnold and Stephanie Lee

Creating pathways for career advancement

Data research scientists face complex challenges, including handling intricate datasets, addressing data privacy and ethical concerns, communicating science effectively with the public and decision-makers, and mastering advanced data analysis techniques. A comprehensive capacity-building approach can prepare them to navigate these challenges confidently, but ensuring the profession’s longevity, sustainability, and resilience requires commitment beyond these elements.

A true “future-proofing” capacity building approach requires more than just technical proficiency. It demands a multifaceted approach that encompasses a robust system designed to nurture and sustain the growth of data research scientists throughout their careers. Central to this approach is establishing clear and rewarding career pathways that promote and streamline career advancement for data research scientists. This is particularly important for the public sector, where talent attraction and retention to safeguard a workforce pipeline can be challenging. This approach involves creating tangible opportunities for professional growth and development, including avenues for career progression, skills enhancement, mentorship programmes, and networking.

Investing in the next generation

According to the UK Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology (POST), the demand for data science skills in the UK workforce continues to grow as we navigate the artificial intelligence epoch amid pressing climate change and social equity challenges. The contributions of future data research scientists are therefore even more crucial in shaping our society’s trajectory.

An ecosystem that fosters a culture of collaboration, knowledge sharing, continuous learning, and inclusivity is essential for the growth and development of data research scientists. This sense of camaraderie not only strengthens individuals, but also fuels collective progress and innovation.

We must invest in the next generation of data research scientists and provide dedicated resources to encourage the pursuit of the profession. By supporting aspiring data research scientists, we can continue to advance our society’s ability to use data for progress and innovation.

Contact Stephanie Lee to find out more about Datacise collaborative learning opportunities.

 

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Published by ADR UK and ADR Wales:

https://www.adruk.org/news-publications/news-blogs/future-proofing-data-research-putting-people-at-the-heart-of-growth/

https://adrwales.org/future-proofing-data-research-putting-people-at-the-heart-of-growth/