Data competence in the physics curriculum
Do our physics curricula provide the appropriate data management competences in a world where data are considered a crucial resource and substantial funding is available for building a national research data infrastructure (German: Nationale Forschungsdateninfrastuktur = NFDI)? Although basic data evaluation and systematic documentation are practiced when students first come into contact with data, particularly in experimental physics lab courses, they do not meet the increasing demands of research and professional practice to deal with the analysis of huge datasets. In many cases, the problem starts with the fact that there is no consensus on a suitable entry-level programming language.
At the Department of Physics at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg, we have made minor adjustments to the physics curriculum in recent years. We placed data management competences early in the bachelor curriculum, which has resulted in considerable advantages throughout the further course of studies. The authors feel that students are quickly moving into the fast lane in data management; we can already see in our research groups that they are becoming a driving force towards modern research data management.
We have reported on this topic in the December issue of the Physik Journal (article in German language):