BYOD Datathon Workshops

Discover how these interactive events, guided by experts in data management, can provide a learning experience to improve the FAIRness of data brought by the participants.

  • Practical “hands-on” training to evaluate and make data more FAIR


A BYOD or datathon workshop typically take place over two or three days so that participants can learn the practicalities of how to improve the FAIRness of their data and the benefits gained by making the data FAIR [1,2,3]. It is a lightweight, very effective and enjoyable way to collaborate across scientific teams in multinational organisations. The BYOD or datathon method summarised here is based on that described in detail at the Dutch Techcentre for Life Sciences (DTL)[4].

Data owners, domain experts (usually biologists or chemists), and FAIR data experts jointly work on specific data sets at a workshop. At the start, data owners present the data they wish to make FAIR. The data experts have extensive knowledge about FAIR data formats and principles, and support the data owners in choosing the optimal profile for making the data FAIR. In addition, they make sure that FAIR linked data is produced in the end. Domain experts can assist the data owners and data experts to solve intellectually challenging data modelling issues and to demonstrate the added value of FAIR data in answering specific research questions.

How To

Each BYOD or datathon workshop is likely to involves a unique combination of data owners and data sets. However, they will all contain the following elements:

1. Preparation
Prior to the workshop, one or two webinars are organised to introduce the principles to the attendees, to point them to preparatory materials, and to provide the starting points for a workshop: a list of questions from data owners and a list of existing (linked?) data sets by the data experts. Having specific research questions or workflows at hand that cannot be answered with the data in its original format is also helpful to demonstrate the added value of the FAIR (linked?) data approach. Good preparation is very important since a lot of time can be saved during the workshop if data models and, for instance, the most relevant vocabularies and ontologies have been defined beforehand.

2. Execution
The first day or two of the two or three-day BYOD or datathon are dedicated to transforming the data owners’ data into FAIR data guided by application of the FAIR Data Maturity Indicators and by providing hands-on training for both the data owners and the future FAIR (linked) data experts.

Together, data owners and data experts work out a showcase to demonstrate the added value of FAIR data in answering specific research questions of the data owner using multiple integrated data resources. At the end of every workshop, data owners will also get an overview of the potential of the interlinked data. In our experience, this demonstration will trigger the imagination and will bring about novel questions that can be answered using unimagined combinations of data.

The newly transformed FAIR data is then deposited in either an open or closed (in case of proprietary data) repository with the original data remaining at the data owner’s location in an appropriate repository.

The last half or full day of the BYOD or datathon workshop is dedicated to exploration of the data using analytics tools.

3. Follow up
After a workshop, data owners are familiar enough with making data FAIR, to allow them to use the FAIR data approach themselves. For further support, two teleconferences are planned to follow up after 2-3 and 6-8 weeks, to tackle any problems the data owners might encounter.

References and Resources

  1. Roos M et al 2014 Bring Your Own Data workshops: a mechanism to aid data owners to comply with Linked Data best practices
  2. Jansen M et al 2016 The Organisation of Bring Your Own Data (BYOD) Workshops to Make Life Science Data Linkable at the Source – SWAT4LS, 2016 –
  3. Carta C et al 2017 The FAIRification of data and the potentialities of FAIR resources showed, in practice, at the Rome Bring Your Own Data workshop – SWAT4LS, 2017 –
  4. Bring Your Own Data (BYOD) workshops at the Dutch Techcentre for Life Sciences (DTLS)

At a Glance

Related use cases
Related methods
  • Early or any time during the FAIR data life cycle
  • Workshop facilitators expert in FAIR data e.g. data stewards
  • Scientist generating or collecting the data and metadata
  • 1 day preparation including 1 or 2 webinars
  • 1-3 day workshop
  • Follow-up at 2-3 weeks and 6-8 weeks

Low to medium