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
Text: Signe Wulund