CSCCE partners with the National Microbiome Data Collaborative to promote metadata standards adoption

CSCCE is wrapping up a project with the National Microbiome Data Collaborative (NMDC) to support their inaugural cohort of NMDC Ambassadors, who are raising awareness and adoption of metadata standards. 

The National Microbiome Data Collaborative (NMDC) is an open science platform through which scientists can deposit and find microbiome data. NMDC staff are working to support the adoption of FAIR (findable, accessible, interoperable, reusable) data and metadata practices by the researchers who use their platform. One of the ways they are doing this is through the establishment of a champions program: the NMDC Ambassadors program. 

Champions programs are ways of empowering emergent leaders within a community to take on additional roles and push forward the mission of the community. At CSCCE, we regularly work with clients on what an effective ambassadors program might look like in their context, and off support and best practices for getting a program off the ground. 

Supporting community managers, and training community champions

In 2021, working with NMDC staff, we supported the launch of the NMDC Ambassadors program, which is  training researchers to help lower barriers to adoption of metadata standards within their own disciplinary or institutional settings. Last fall, we held a series of workshops for twelve NMDC Ambassadors as they planned virtual events, which were intended to raise awareness of metadata standards and encourage open data sharing among scientists. Our workshops covered our Making a PACT framework, tactics for gathering input, and methods for selecting virtual tools

The Ambassadors have been busy this spring, hosting virtual events for scientists who specialize in different areas of microbiome research. During this time, we’ve held monthly calls for Ambassadors to share what they learned with program staff and each other. The feedback we’ve been gathering from these calls will be incorporated into a playbook for future NMDC Ambassadors to reference when planning similar events.

CSCCE has also been working closely with NMDC community manager, Pajau Vangay, to analyze the Ambassadors program using concepts from social learning theory, such as Wenger-Trayner’s value creation framework. The Ambassadors are contributing to this analysis by collecting survey data from their events and reporting out during one-on-one sessions with Pajau. 

We expect to publish the results of this analysis in a manuscript later this year, and hope that the learnings from this inaugural cohort will be useful for future NMDC Ambassadors as well as other community managers who are looking to launch similar champions programs. 

Can we support you with building out a champions program? 

CSCCE has deep experience working with scientific communities to conceptualize, launch and evaluate champions programs. This can include:

  • Setting goals for the champions program
  • Creating a recruitment process – setting application requirements, selection process, and communications plan
  • Onboarding for new champions – building playbooks, welcome communications, and codes of conduct
  • Determining rewards and incentives for champions
  • Custom training and other support for champions – workshops, virtual support spaces
  • Offboarding – hand-over of materials, debriefing, transition of roles.
  • Evaluation of champions programs – surveys and/or interviews to determine program impact

To learn more, contact us at