The DSW story originates in the Netherlands where Dr Rob Hooft of the Dutch Techcentre for Lifesciences (DTL) started collecting knowledge about data stewardship around 2012, when taking part in discussions on the introduction of Data Management Plans by national funder ZonMw, and formalised it in the form of a hierarchical mind map. After collecting information at lectures and from discussions for some time, the mind map grew to over 600 items and was almost as tall as Rob when printed out for an ELIXIR meeting. This was when Dr Hooft started thinking about programming a tool for navigating through the map.
In the Spring of 2015, Dr Robert Pergl from the Faculty of Information Technology of Czech Technical University (CTU) in Prague, Czech Republic, started working on dynamic web forms systems. CTU had freshly joined ELIXIR CZ infrastructure at that time, and together with the Head of Node, Dr Jiří Vondrášek, Dr Pačes, and Dr Pergl opened the topic of data management. The dynamic web forms system was developed to make a user-friendly questionnaire to gather information about data management practices in ELIXIR CZ.
The key moment when the DSW idea was conceived was when these two roads met in the Autumn of 2015, at the ELIXIR CZ meeting, where Dr Pergl presented his work. Dr Hooft was present, as was a FAIR visionary prof. Barend Mons of Leiden University Medical Centre, at that time ELIXIR NL Head of Node, who said, "Rob has this brilliant mind map, and you have such a nice questionnaire tool, why don't you put it together?" And so they did. In the Autumn of 2016, the first version of The Data Stewardship Wizard was released, effectively bringing the mind map knowledge in the form of an interactive questionnaire with hints, follow-up questions, additional links to resources and experts in the field, and it started to get attention and feedback from the future user community.
Dr Pergl was then joined in his efforts by his students, a doctoral candidate Marek Suchánek, MSc, and master students Vojtěch Knaisl and Jan Slifka. They started improving the DSW prototype, and in 2018, an entirely rewritten production-ready version of DSW was released. Since then, DSW grew to a professional-grade rock-solid software tool built on cutting-edge software technologies with regular releases bringing an ever-growing set of features requested by its community.
The uniqueness of DSW lies in the combination of skillfully crafted software and its valuable contents – the Knowledge Model encompassing the data stewardship domain. It represents a tool that gives guidance, decision support, and learning – the learning aspect was strongly increased by organically linking parts of the book by prof. Barend Mons, Data Stewardship for Open Science in 2018, which structure follows the mind map.
Clearly, the success of DSW has been achieved not only by the quality of software and its unique content but also thanks to the support of ELIXIR CZ and ELIXIR NL. Over time, other ELIXIR nodes started contributing, and a very nice and active community started forming, resulting in the embedding of DSW as "The ELIXIR data management tool".
The impact of DSW goes beyond life science and ELIXIR with the strong presence in the efforts and projects of the GO FAIR initiative and the GO FAIR Foundation. Apart from being a tool helping to make the research results FAIR as part of good data stewardship, the DSW proved to be a versatile technology – the so-called FIP Wizard became a part of the Three-point FAIRification Framework of GO FAIR, a solution "How to GO FAIR" and its engine were used in the VODAN-in-a-box project in 2020, a solution for gathering and storing FAIR COVID data.
DSW is also a key component of the EU project "ELIXIR CONVERGE", a 3-year project from 2020-2023, in which all the ELIXIR nodes participate. In ELIXIR CONVERGE, DSW interacts with RDMkit: creating mutual references, and that way presenting research data management knowledge to different audiences together. DSW's knowledge model also benefits from the experience brought together in ELIXIR CONVERGE.
DSW became strongly community-driven in 2020. Dr Jana Freeman joined the Czech team as the Community Manager and started her excellent job of handling communications, social media, organising events, and also doing training and managing the user documentation. After a few months, she was reinforced by Tereza Machačová in the role of an intern. To steer the development of DSW also "from the top", the Advisory Board was founded in the Autumn of the same year. It is formed by the representatives of major adopters of DSW.
A quality of a tool is not only given by the quality of its make but very much by quality-in-use. At DSW, we are very much aware that good training is very important to get our users at peak effectiveness in data management planning. This is why we regularly organise training on features and topics. Even more important in this respect are training organised by various ELIXIR nodes that are more focused on specific use cases and scenarios of users.
Funding by sponsors ELIXIR, ELIXIR CZ and the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports of the Czech Republic provides sustainable operation and development of an open-source, free version of DSW operated on CESNET infrastructure. To satisfy the high demands of industry and practice, the Codevence company was founded by the team in 2020 to offer professional custom-tailored services for commercial companies.
Today, DSW is used by thousands of users from many universities, organisations, and several major commercial companies. You may like to read some of the success stories, and you may find a lot of interesting and useful information on our web pages and please do not hesitate to contact us!
We wish you many magical moments with the Data Stewardship Wizard, and we hope you enjoy its use as much as we enjoy working on it!
The DSW team