Because good research needs good data

First year at DCC

In this blog post, Ryan O'Connor looks back at his first year at the DCC.

Ryan O'Connor | 18 September 2020

On starting at the DCC in July of last year, if I had been asked to plot out in advance the next 12 months or so I’m not sure I would have seen Zoom backgrounds playing such a prominent role in my professional life - but here we are. At the risk of repeating what has been said a million times already (and a million times more eloquently!), it has been a whirlwind year. After returning from some late-summer annual leave I thought now would be good to take the opportunity to look back at my time so far at the Digital Curation Centre, hopefully giving people some idea of what it’s like to be part of the DCC team and how we are adjusting to our new professional landscapes.

I started at the DCC having spent a number of years previously dealing with data - curation, analysis, visualisation - so was at least familiar with a lot of the issues that the DCC’s work touches on. However, my experience had been largely in the commercial sector, which brings with it a host of unique challenges and pressures. Once I had settled in here, the main thing I had to get to grips with was the much broader scope of stakeholders involved in all activities. Whereas I was coming from a sector where the focus was very much on the service provider-client relationship, the challenge for me on getting stuck into work at the DCC was to understand how the work I was now involved in was done with a view to benefit to the wider community. Though stakeholders are not always directly involved, cooperation between various groups is very much the driving force behind the work the DCC does. This is especially true of the large European Commission projects which have occupied the majority of my time so far - be it RDA Europe 4.0, FAIRsFAIR, or OpenAIRE Advance.

While I have been able to learn a lot about the landscape of data curation and RDM services from these, I think the main positive I have taken away so far is how much I appreciate being able to work with teams of people - both inside the DCC and among colleagues from projects - who are so committed to and knowledgeable about what they do. The working from home situation has really thrown this into relief. Though it is clearly not without its drawbacks, seeing how people have adjusted to the restrictions without any adverse effect on the quality of work has been a real lesson.

Looking at the year ahead, I have been able to map out various goals and milestones in terms of the projects and other work I am involved in. However, if there is one thing I can take from my first year it is to be open to learning from new challenges. I am hoping (if not, expecting!) to adjust the objectives I have laid out for myself with a view to taking advantage of the opportunities that working at the DCC can offer.