If Jisc’s 4th Research Data Network earlier this week felt a bit rushed at times, it only reflects the sheer number of exciting projects happening across the sector.
I’m deeply impressed by the range and quality of Research Data Management work being showcased at #JiscRDM
— Dan Cook (@Dan_HE_man) June 28, 2017
There’s still a long way to go but it felt like the dots are really starting to join up and there was lots of energy in both real and virtual space – see Storify of tweets on the #JiscRDM tag during the event.
Two packed days in York were bookended by an inspiring opening keynote from Mark Humphries asking “Who will use the Open Data?” and by a panel session the following afternoon on the principles and practice of open research, informed by the open research pilot project at the University of Cambridge.
Mark emphasised that there is a clearer rationale in some academic contexts than others. Clinical trials, for example, are time consuming and expensive and need to be safe and effective which provides a clear motivation to share data and check conclusions.
Mark singled out his own discipline of neuroscience however as lagging behind, with no discipline specific open data repositories, and inclined to “data worship”. New data is hard to get and requires considerable skill (to implant electrodes in a rat’s cortex for instance) and will underpin high-impact papers, that universal currency of academia. It’s not for sharing!
Mark reassured us, nevertheless, that open data is the future. Inevitably. If only due to the sheer scale of data being generated which simply has to be shared if it is to be analysed effectively, citing an instance whereby a single dataset generated 9 high quality papers from several labs. RDM isn’t trivial though, one of the main reasons that funding bodies are mandating data sharing.
Benefits of data sharing: 1 dataset has produced 9 papers – only 4 from original lab. But curating that data takes a lot of effort #JiscRDM
— Rosie Higman (@RosieHLib) June 27, 2017
Some 28 hours later, we were back in the same lecture theatre for the final session chaired by Marta Teperek. Our four panelists fielding questions from the floor were David Carr (Wellcome Trust), Tim Fulton, Lauren Cadwallader (both University of Cambridge) and Jennifer Harris (Birkbeck University).
“What frustrates you most about the current systems [i.e. publishing, costs, institutional politics, funders’ policies etc]?” #JiscRDM
— Open Research Leeds (@OpenResLeeds) June 28, 2017
There was a great deal of emphasis on the cost of open research and sustainability – by way of answer to the question above, Lauren Cadwallader referred to her recent blog post Open Resources: Who Should Pay? and shared her reservations about the ‘gold’ model of open access that is sustained by expensive Article Processing Charges to commercial publishers.
There are similarities and synergies between OA and open data initiatives, including increasing interest from publishers. There are also significant differences and it was pointed out from the floor that long term preservation is a cost that needs to be borne by someone.
Could a block grant for open data help, so similar to OA? Response seems to be it wld need very careful thought. #JiscRDM
— rachelbruce (@rachelbruce) June 28, 2017
Betwixt these bookends were far too many sessions to discuss in detail, covering everything from the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) to an update on the work HESA is doing in relation to research data in the context of REF2021, Archivematica for preservation and some fantastic resources for business case development and costing for RDM (including a number of useful case studies). Then there’s the Research Data Alliance which *anyone* is able to join and which offers a window onto many different communities.
It was particularly interesting to learn about ongoing developments with Jisc’s shared service which is working with 13 pilot institutions on repository and preservation solutions and comprises a range of tools to capture, preserve, disseminate and allow reporting. The pilot offer also includes training, support and gathering of best practice. Pilot users will be testing these systems throughout the summer and providing feedback with a view to rolling out production between April and July 2018.
Leeds contributed to the event by sharing lessons learned when setting up our RDM service and with a lightning talk.
All in all a valuable couple of days with lots of information still to synthesise and file away. Indeed to preserve in one’s cortex…now where’s that neuroscientist?
Slides from all sessions and extensive notes are available from https://research-data-network.readme.io/v2.01/docs/4th-research-data-network-york-university