SND Network Meeting and Forum

November 13th – 15th 2017 the Swedish National Data Service (SND) arranged three events in Gothenburg: a discussion with HEIs about the new joint infrastructure, a forum about FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) data, and a workshop aimed at researchers.

The network meeting and forum covered a lot of topics, but it was clear that a very pressing issue was the need for a national infrastructure for storing research data. Therefore it was very good to hear that the Swedish Research Council is going to invest four billion SEK in Open Science and related activities over the next eight years. Exactly how much will go to the SND is still not known. However, VR have decided to allocate 1.2 billion SEK over five years to the Swedish National Infrastructure for Computing (SNIC) who coordinate computing resources at HEIs, and where SND are currently storing data.

One of the first speakers of the day was Sofie Björling, Director of Department of Research Infrastructures at VR. She pointed out that the Swedish Research Council has a responsibility to coordinate the national work with open access to research data. As of now it is unclear exactly which shape this work will take, as it is an area with a lot of stakeholders and overlapping areas of responsibility, but VR is working with SND to sort that out.

We were given a lot of information about SND’s structure with Data Access Units (DAU) and Domain Specialists (DoSp), and got an overview of how far each HEI had made it in developing these. Here in Borås we are waiting for a joint research data coordinator with University West and Skövde University. At the same time we also want to work with these questions locally even before that position has been filled, as there is a lot to be done in this area.

There was also a lot of information about FAIR data, where the most important message is what the acronym Findable, Accessible, Interoperable & Reusable actually means. A PID (persistent identifier) such as a DOI (digital object identifier) is a good way of making your data findable. Making data accessible doesn’t mean not protecting it – just that it has to be accessible in a file format that makes it possible for others (or even yourself) to actually use and reuse it. SND maintain guides with best practices and check lists for how to make data FAIR.

Currently 80% of all research data is said to be ‘re-useless’ – that is a frighteningly high number when you think know how much time, money and work is required to create research data in the first place. To be unable to guarantee that you can reuse or control your own or others’ data after the fact has to be seen as a big problem. One way the EU is tackling this is by requiring all those awarded Horizon 2020 funding to submit a Data Management Plan (DMP) to prevent this kind of information loss.

To end on a positive note, the ICOS Carbon Portal talked about how valuable it has been for them to make their data FAIR, and their repository is a good example of what Open Science can look like.

Program with linked presentations

Day 1: SND och lärosätena – arbetet framåt (program & presentations in Swedish)
Day 2: The Road to FAIR data (program & presentations in English)

Text: Signe Wulund

How is the University working with research data today?

This week is Open Access Week, and we are highlighting the open access to research data. This entry is written by Library Director Svante Kristensson and describes the situation at the University of Borås when it comes to open access and research data. The Library is also arranging a Library breakfast focused on the subject this Wednesday morning, October 25th.

How is the University working with research data today?

As more and more funders require not just the publication of final results, but that all research data those results are based on should be made publically available and archived, Swedish higher education institutions must prepare for how to support researchers with this process. At the University of Borås, we are doing the following to prepare:

The University will be a part of the newly restructured Swedish National Data service (Svensk Nationell Datatjänst, SND)(linked) which is a consortium under the auspice of the Swedish Research Council. About twenty Swedish higher education institutions with closer connections to the consortia have taken on the responsibility to create Data Access Units which will work as local, distributed, supporting parts of SND. The idea is that the University of Borås, like other participating institutions, will coordinate the research support for research data. For our part this means that the research support from e.g. library, archive, legal services and research advisors will be coordinated in a more efficient way than it is today.

The University is also working within Konstex (a national network for higher education institutions with degree-awarding powers in the arts) to disseminate information about the particularities of what is to be considered as research data within this field.

As part of the recently approved Horizon 2020 project SUITCEYES (Smart, User-friendly, Interactive, Tactual, Cognition-Enhancer that Yields Extended Sensosphere) work has already commenced on formulating a data management plan. All Horizon 2020 projects must present initial documentation demonstrating how they will handle the question of making available and archiving the research data relevant for the project. Representatives from the library and GIO have supported the research group in setting up a data management plan.

The University of Borås works closely with University West and the University of Skövde in the area of open access to research data. Staff members at the three institutions have received relevant training together, and a network for the participants has been created. Right now recruitment is also ongoing for a new research coordinator who will develop the work with research data at the three institutions.

Text: Svante Kristensson

Översättning: Signe Wulund

Research Data Management – a new area for the library

During spring 2017, the library has participated in an education in managing research data. The education has been led by the Swedish National Data Service (SND) and has included several different aspects of managing research data; creation of data management plans, description of data, file management, archiving and making data available to others. For three whole days, the library team for research support, along with archivist and legal experts at the university, has studied and discussed these issues. The education has been very rewarding, and given a deeper insight to how complex these issues are, not least the legal aspects of data management. This becomes especially clear when research is about people, and personal information is handled.

After the education at SND, a training package for researchers has been planned out, and a test of this has been carried out during the late spring. For two half days, four researchers at the university have participated in lectures and workshops on the management of research data, focusing on their own data. To be able to deepen the discussions with researchers who are experts in their own data, has been rewarding to all involved (including researchers). The researchers who participated in the training are Daniel Ekwall, Helena Francke, Katarina Karlsson and Laura Darcy.

The first half day was about data management plans. Data management plans are really no news in the research process. What’s new is that the data management plan is a coherent document answering all questions about why and how data is collected, how it is preserved, and who has access to it. This document needs updating continuously during the research process. Previously, similar issues may have been raised for research applications but not at the same level of detail. Some tools that could facilitate the work on data management plans were demonstrated.

The second half day was used to talk about legal aspects of data management and archiving of research data. The focus was on the new data protection regulation, which will come into force in May 2018. The four researchers had many questions regarding the handling of personal data in the light of the new regulation.

The education at SND will be the basis for establishing a working group at the University of Borås, whose task is to assist researchers with data management plans, archiving research data and making research data accessible. Currently, the prospective group is called Data Access Unit (DAU). Similar work is ongoing at most Swedish universities since the issue of archiving and open-source research data is high on the EU agenda (Horizon 2020, for example, requires open-source research data) and in Sweden it is assumed that many research funding will in future require the inclusion of data management plan in the application for research funding and open access to research data.

Do you want us to come to your research group for a conversation or workshop about research data and data management plans? Please contact us!

Read previous posts about research data in Forskningsrelaterat.

What is a data management plan good for?

A data management plan (DMP) is a term that we hear quite often nowadays. It is not uncommon outside Sweden that researchers have to submit a DMP to be able to apply for research funds. This will probably be the case in Sweden as well in the future, and it is therefore of importance that researchers in Sweden are informed what a DMP is and how they can use it for their own benefit.

A DMP is pretty much what it sounds like – it’s a document describing how you plan to manage your data during and after a research project. The document describes things like how the data will be stored, if and how you are going to make the data freely available, and what kind of data you are working with. But a DMP is more than just a document for administration. Foremost it’s a document for the researcher to simplify the process of research. If you use it, many tasks relating to your research will gain from it.

The most important aspect of the DMP is that it significantly simplify for the researcher to return to a research project at a later point in time. A well structured and documented DMP makes it possible for you to get an overview over what data you have used before, what role they have in the research, and why you have made certain decisions.

What does a data management plan contain?

There are several guides to what a DMP should contain. Digital Curation Centre has a checklist, for example, that lists questions regarding administrative aspects, data collection, metadata and documentation, and more. By going through the checklist and answer the questions you will take a stance on several important issues regarding your research.

A living document

A DMP is not supposed to be just an administrative task when applying for research funds. You should update the document regularly when you make new decisions in your research. If you for example make changes in your data, removing or adding a column, or changing a definition, you should write this down in your DMP. This way you can always go back and check the exact process of your work.

Why should you write a data management plan?

There are several reasons why to write a DMP, except the obvious one that it might be needed to require funding. A DMP is a good way to structure the research process and ahead of time reflect on several important decisions about the research. If you work in a research team a DMP can be a way to help distribute fields of responsibility between the team members. The DMP also makes the task to describe and make a plan for your research data, both for making them freely available and to make sure you yourself can re-sue them at a later time. If someone questions your research, you have a document where every decision is recorded. This makes it very easy to defend your choices during the research, even several years after the project has ended. Lastly, you may want to return to a research project a couple of years later. A DMP makes it easy to read up on everything that you did, and makes sure that you don’t forget anything important concerning the project or its data.

Kristoffer Karlsson