profile

Dr. Heidi Seibold

Volunteerism has gone too far!

Published 2 months ago • 3 min read

I have volunteered for many initiatives and was always happy to do so. Recently I started to realize that being able to volunteer is a privileged position to be in. To be truly fair and allow all enthusiasts to join an initiative we have to rethink the way we do things. A constructive criticism.

I've got to get this off my chest, you all! I've received yet another email asking whether I could speak at an event. For free.

"Why for free?" you ask?

It's an event from and for enthusiasts.

I am a fan of a lot of the volunteer-based initiatives in the research community, but I think we have gone too far.

  • Too many things are expected to be done for free in the scientific community.
  • Too many things are not budgeted into grants as they could be.
  • Too many groups think about the actual costs of work and time too late or not at all.

Enthusiasm for something does not mean that you can and want to work for it for free.

Give everyone a chance to contribute

Many people are passionate about something but still do not have the possibility to volunteer. Let's stop building upon volunteer work only, as it excludes people.

"It will look good on your CV" or "it will give you visibility" is not enough for some of us.

How do we fix it?

I'm gonna be honest: the first version of this newsletter was an angry rant. It felt good to write, but it wasn't true to my goal of creating positive impact (in a positive way). So let me try to provide constructive criticism and share some ideas on how to fix the over-reliance on volunteer work.

💸

Ask for (more) money

If we provide services (e.g. training, software, project management), we can ask for money - or at least donations - from the institutions and people who benefit.

Ask for money. If you already are and it's not enough, ask for more. Pay the people who contribute a fair share.

📊

Plan for the work in grant applications

In grants we sometimes forget how much time developing training, organising community events, or mentoring costs.

Put in the real numbers and pay people for the actual work they put in.

👩‍💼

Think like a business, not like a charity

Initiatives who provide relevant services for research, are not doing charity. Let's stop acting like it.

Write a business plan, do marketing, sales, and learn from businesses how to make money and pay people.

What do you think? Do these make sense?

How does the Digital Research Academy do things?

If I know a group of enthusiasts, it's the folks in the DRA community. We're in this, because we believe that research could be better and we want to make it so. But - and this is important - we don't want to do it for free. Why? Because not all of us can work for free. Basing what we do on volunteer work would hinder our endeavor of being an open and inclusive community.

Two of our guiding principles are:

  • Together we aim to be an active, inclusive and open community of trainers and learners based on trust, making it a common practice to listen to and support each other and embed inclusive and open practices in our trainings; and
  • We ensure everyone in the network is paid or rewarded for their efforts, we use clear licences for our materials and a clear pricing structure that includes tailored training.

Have we figured it all out? Of course not! Some of us have to volunteer for now to get the Digital Research Academy started until we earn the money to pay ourselves. Also, we are struggling with reactions from our training clients who did not expect our prices (which would be a cheap in industry, especially since our courses are custom).

Some folks want to volunteer their time. That's ok, too. We just don't want to be dependent on it.

​

deRSE24 conference

Join me at the conference for Research Software Engineering in Germany

Mar 5 – 7, 2024 in Würzburg

Last chance to register!

I hope that I managed to turn the post this week into something constructive and I am happy to discuss with anyone to find even better solutions. Because I think we can.

All the best,

Heidi

​


P.S. If you're enjoying this newsletter, please consider supporting my work by leaving a tip.

Heidi Seibold, MUCBOOK Clubhouse, Elsenheimerstr. 48, Munich, 81375
​Unsubscribe · Preferences · My newsletters are licensed under CC-BY 4.0​

Dr. Heidi Seibold

https://heidiseibold.com

All things open and reproducible data science.

Read more from Dr. Heidi Seibold

Guest post: Meet Dr Elisabeth Kugler, director of Zeeks – Art for Geeks. In this post she will share her career path and how her work connects with open science now that she is an entrepreneur. I am Dr Elisabeth Kugler, director of Zeeks – Art for Geeks – a company that transforms how people think about data. We achieve this by data analysis, visualization, and communication. And our speciality is image-based data and strategies. In this article, I aim to discuss Zeeks' perspective on open...

10 days ago • 2 min read

Making your research or code project FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) and reproducible can feel like a chore. But if you have access to the right templates and resources, it can be quite the simple and rewarding task. Let's make it easy for ourselves to do the right thing! So today let me share some templates for setting up #FAIR and #reproducible projects. I asked folks on social media what suggestions they had and got so many that I was not able to put them all here...

about 1 month ago • 2 min read

Fraud in science continues to be a highly discussed topic in the scientific community and also in mainstream media. I've always seen Open Science as a way to improve rigor in science, but can it also avoid fraud? I will not discuss cases of (alleged) fraud or scientific misconduct in this post, but focus on how I believe we can avoid it in the future. If you are interested in learning more about one of the major recent scandals, I recommend listening to the Freakonomics radio episode on the...

3 months ago • 2 min read
Share this post