Open Data Panel at #IDCC16

The 11th International Digital Curation Conference is just around the corner and we are anticipating great discussions in Amsterdam in couple of weeks.

In the first of our series of preview posts, members of the Open Data Panel at IDCC - Fiona Nielsen, Marta Hoffman-Sommer, Phil Archer, Thomas Ingraham and Jeroen Rombouts - briefly explain why open data is important, what are the benefits as well as challenges to sharing research data.

Your session will focus on open data. Are there any specific messages you would like people to take away from it?

Fiona Nielsen (founder and CEO of DNAdigest and Repositive): My take-home message would be that publicly funded research data should be made available to the research community. The earlier and the more systematically you do so, the more benefit and credit you gain as a researcher among your peers and funders. Whenever research data does not hold personally identifiable information (PII) it should be made available as soon as possible. For many types of data this means that it can be published as open data along with data descriptors, metadata and helpful advice from the authors. However, in the special case of PII the access to the data will need to be managed with a governance model that matches the consent given for its use. All data descriptors, metadata and helpful advice from the authors can and should be made available as open data to maximise discoverability, accessibility and opportunities for reuse and reproducibility of results.

Marta Hoffman-Sommer (Open Science Platform at ICM University of Warsaw): I suppose we all agree that data from publicly funded research should be shared openly. What I would like to stress is how much individual researchers stand to gain from opening data – that sharing data really can be a standard part of a successful way of doing science.

Phil Archer (W3C): I wonder whether we might try and see things from the other direction a little. I am as guilty as anyone of starting from the concept of open data and saying it's a really cool thing to do. The alternative angle is to think about what research questions you want to answer, what prompted you to want to research that specific question - quite possibly it was someone else's work that made you think of something. OK, so if I had access to that original data, here's how I'd be able to use it/augment it, test a new hypothesis etc. perhaps mixed with other data that I can find that already exists. It's important to credit other people's work of course - that's always the carrot.

Thomas Ingraham (Publishing Editor at Open Life Science publishing platform F1000 Research): One thing I will say is that there are many arguments in favour of open research data; most focus on the altruistic benefits to other scientists and wider society, others on the direct benefits to the submitting researcher. Best bet is to go with the former if trying to convince an organization, and the latter when trying to convince individual scientists. It helps to tailor the argument to the recipient, rather than go straight for the 'altruistic' arguments in all cases.

Jeroen Rombouts (Director at 3TU.Datacentrum): There are many messages for the open data public but I hope that we can make it clear that we need to share if we all want to get more value out of data, to get research on higher levels. And that the people producing and sharing the data need to be rewarded for sharing and for that we need a revolution. So start publishing and citing data and develop support and incentives!

You’ll undoubtedly have looked at the programme in preparation for IDCC. Which speakers/sessions are you most looking forward to?

Fiona Nielsen: I am looking forward to the C3 session on Data sharing and reuse. There are lots of tools and best practices for research data sharing being developed around the world, including the Dataverse project (one of the presentations in C3) and similar initiatives. I think it is crucial for the advancement of research that we learn as a community what approaches work to increase incentives for sharing and reuse, so that these approaches can be built into any and all new research data publication initiatives. 

Marta Hoffman-Sommer: What I'm especially looking forward to at the conference is to gain some new insights into the management of data in the long tail of science – mostly in the B1 session (ed. Big science and the long tail), but I expect this comes up in other sessions as well.

Phil Archer: That would be the sessions around citation and linking. I'll be also interested to hear what Susan Halford has to say.

Thomas Ingraham: Regrettably, I can only be at the conference for the Tuesday - I am especially disappointed about missing all the interesting Wednesday sessions. Thankfully, I'll be there for Barend Mons and Andrew Sallans, definitely looking forward to their talks!

Jeroen Rombouts: I hope to take home with me opportunities for long tail data and bright ideas on developing RDM services from B1 (ed. Big science and the long tail) and A3 (ed. Research data services).

Would you like to know more? The Open Data Panel will run on Tuesday from 11:30 to 12:30. If you haven’t registered yet for the conference, book your place now.