Author: sarah.jones

Let the ideas flow…

Colleagues ask me what an unconference is. I say it’s playing it by ear. You come along without an agenda and see what sparks everyone’s interest on the day. I’m really excited that we’re trialling an unconference at IDCC, particularly on the last day. People are always so buzzing with ideas and inspired by Cliff Lynch’s insightful synopsis, that it’s often hard to get them out the door! This year you can bring all that enthusiasm back and focus on the key ideas to emerge.

There are lots of different types of interactive sessions that can take place:

  • Group discussions
  • Learn about / how to
  • Fishbowl dialogues
  • Show and tell
  • Knowledge café

Whether you have a task you want to work on with others, a fresh idea or solution you want to demo, or topics you want to discuss to learn from others’ experience, the unconference provides a space for you to achieve all of this. Just pitch an idea, gather like-minded souls and get cracking.

Three of us have thrown our hat in the ring to act as compares for the day: me, Peter Neish of Melbourne Uni and Adam Bell of AARNet. We don’t have a grand plan and certainly don’t have all the ideas and answers. We’re just there to help steer things along. All of you fresh recruits are what will make this happen.

As it stands there is very little structure for the day. We’ll begin standing in the plenary room – don’t get comfortable and start checking email… You need to listen up, divide into groups and start interacting! We’ll invite some pitches from people who volunteer ideas and then all vote with our feet. We’ve scheduled three parallel slots but can have more or less as the mood takes us. There are no rules.

The day will be very free-form. Tea/coffee and light bites will be available all day long. There are nominal slots for breaks and lunch but you can pause when suits. We’ll periodically pitch new ideas in the plenary room but these will also be recorded online so you can join any group at any point.

Ideas for the unconference can be put forward at any time. You can respond to this blog with a comment, add details on the inspiration boards that will be available during IDCC, or pitch ideas in the etherpad

I’m interested in comparing findings from all the new FAIR reports. There have been several studies in recent years that either investigate practice in different disciplines, make recommendations on what needs to change, or release statement of commitment to change the status quo.

  • How similar are the findings and recommendations across these studies?
  • Are there significant differences in practice/needs across disciplines & countries?
  • What can we learn from the advancements that different groups have made?
  • What are the biggest challenges that need international collaboration?

The Australasian digital preservation community are keen to explore how communities of practice can support the sharing of digital preservation knowledge and skills. Lessons could perhaps be learned from the excellent Data Curation Network in the USA or the Community of Practice which is emerging from a set of European projects and the Research Data Alliance skills group.

Undoubtedly you will also have pet projects that you want to collaborate on, cool tools to show, or things you want to teach others. Get your thinking caps on and bring what you need to the unconference. We look forward to seeing you there!

Image CC-BY: Unconference by JD Lasica

Work together, not alone: doing things the Batswana way

Botswana University Campus Appeal statue. CC-BY by Heritage Adventures

International Data Week in Botswana was unlike any conference I’ve been to before. It brought together over 820 participants from 66 countries. Botswana was represented by over 250 participants and the engagement from the wider African continent was marked and added a different dimension and richness of conversation that isn’t always present at RDA plenaries.

The conference was opened by the President of Botswana, His Excellency Dr Mokgweetsi Masisi, who gave an impassioned and informed address which showed his genuine understanding and concern about data issues. Dr Masisi spoke on the importance of a knowledge-based economy and the potential for Open Data and Open Science platforms to foster regional and continental integration through collaboration. Speaking on the data marketplace, he demonstrated a commitment to actively engage in this agenda in a way that benefits the community and improves the lives of the people he serves. During the opening session we were also treated to a first-rate marimba band, an operatic rendition of the national anthem, and an infectious 20+ strong traditional dance troupe that had many of us dancing in our seats (you know who you are!). This was the first indication that we were going to be taught how to do things by the Africans.

A small group of us were lucky enough to do some sightseeing before the conference. During a city tour with Andy of Heritage Adventures we learned about the history of Botswana’s independence and the importance of peacefulness and collaboration which shone through at the conference. Botswana gained independence in June 1966, since when it has been one of the world’s fastest growing economies, averaging about 5% per annum over the past decade. There is a strong sense of community and collective action. The development of the University of Botswana campus in Gaborone is a case in point. Andy explained about the Botswana University Campus Appeal (BUCA) or “One Man, One Beast” campaign in which the people of Botswana made donations of cattle, chicken, eggs and grain to raise funds to establish a University. Launched by the President in March 1976 with an ambitious target of one million Rand, by mid-October the same year, over R800,000 had been raised and 2,700 cattle had been donated or pledged. This is commemorated on campus with a statue of a farmer driving an Ox. Limited resources need not limit achievement.

Attending the CODATA General Assembly as the UK delegate was also an eye-opening experience. I learned more about the CODATA membership model there and that it is evolving these categories and planning a recruitment drive to grow membership and ensure sustainability. Having spent the last six months considering similar issues for the Research Data Alliance to help formulate its RDA Regions proposal, I think closer collaboration is necessary. Barend Mons was elected as the new CODATA President in Gaborone. Although he will now step down from GO FAIR activities to focus on the new role, his position will inevitably raise the profile of GO FAIR in such discussions. Government investment in the Netherlands, Germany and France has led to the establishment of the GO FAIR International Support & Coordination Office (GFISCO), with each of the founding countries having its own international office to guide new and existing Implementation Networks. National budgets and investment in data is always tight and countries will undoubtedly question what value they derive from each membership. Closer cooperation and collaboration between RDA, CODATA and GO FAIR is needed to avoid competing for the same funds and pursuing overlapping agendas. It is important to define the role of each initiative and how they complement one another. We should learn from the collaborative approach of the Botswanans here.

The Botswanan flag is representative of its national values. The blue represents water, and the white-black-white bands depict the racial harmony of the people. Botswana is the continent’s longest continuous multi-party democracy, has a good human rights record and is ranked as the least corrupt country in Africa. On the journey to the CODATA General Assembly during my last day in Botswana, Joseph Wafula from Kenya spoke about how he admired the decision-making approach in the country. Leaders cannot just pass new legislation. Proposals need to be taken to the people and debated in ordinary households. This may slow down the process, but it leads to more robust and implementable policy, and as he observed, politicians shouldn’t be scared of having their ideas debated – if they are strong ideas they will be passed. It made me ashamed to think of the diversionary news tactics that are often implemented in more ‘developed’ countries to pass new legislation by the back door when people are preoccupied with other issues.

What continues to impress me about RDA is the ground-up approach to its work. This does lead to some duplication and certain groups using the forum as a publicity platform, but the equity of voice that allows any member to bring forward ideas and convene groups is an important ideal to protect. Developing solutions in an international forum not only strengthens the outputs as they are enriched by multiple perspectives, but the ideas gain validity and have increased adoption. It also helps to challenge the ‘not-invented-here’ mentality which can often lead to reinvention of wheels and misuse of public funds. Genuine collaboration, inclusivity and diversity is hard work and can be intensely frustrating, but in most cases those cross-culture and cross-domain activities are a lot of fun, enrich your own understanding, and are ultimately worth it in the end.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”   African proverb

 

 

Roadmap back to school edition

Image: CC-BY-NC-ND ‘Pencils‘ by Vanessa Lynn
 
Summer activities and latest (major 2.0.0) release
The DMPRoadmap team is checking in with an overdue update after rotating holidays and work travels over the past few months. We also experienced some core team staff transitions and began juggling some parallel projects. As a result we haven’t been following a regular development schedule, but we have been busy tidying up the codebase and documentation. 
 
This post summarizes the contents of the major release and provides instructions for those with existing installations who will need to make some configuration changes in order to upgrade to the latest and greatest DMPRoadmap code. In addition to infrastructure improvements, we fixed some bugs and completed some feature enhancements. We appreciate the feedback and encourage you to keep it coming since this helps us set priorities (listed on the development roadmap) and meet the data management planning needs of our increasingly international user community. On that note, we welcome Japan (National Institute for Informatics) and South Africa (NeDICC) as additional voices in the DMP conversation!
 
Read on for more details about all the great things packed into the latest release, as well as some general updates about our services and of course machine-actionable DMPs. The DCC has already pushed the release out to its services and the DMPTool will be upgrading soon – separate communications to follow. Those who run their own instances should check out the full release notes and a video tutorial on the validations and data clean-up (thanks Gavin!) to complete the upgrade.
 
DMPRoadmap housekeeping work (full release notes, highlights below)
  • Instructions for existing installations to upgrade to the latest release. Please read and follow these carefully to prevent any issues arising from invalid data. We highly recommend that you backup your existing database before running through these steps to prepare your system for Roadmap 2.0.0!
  • Added a full suite of automated unit tests to make it easier to incorporate external contributions and improve overall reliability.
  • Added data validations for improved data integrity.
  • Created new and revised existing documentation for coding conventions, tests, translations, etc (Github wiki). We can now update existing translations and add new ones more efficiently.
DMPRoadmap new features and bug fixes
  • Comments are now visible by default without having to click ‘Show.’ Stay tuned for additional improvements to the plan comments functionality in upcoming sprints. 
  • Renamed/standardized text labels for ‘Save’ buttons for clarity.
  • Added a button to download a list of org users as a csv file (Admin > ‘Users’ page)
  • Added a global usage report for total users and plans for all orgs (Admin > ‘Usage’ page)
  • Admins can create customized template sections and place them at the beginning or end of funder templates via drag-and-drop 
  • Removed multi-select box as an answer format and replaced with multiple choice
DCC/DMPonline subscriptions [Please note: this does not apply to DMPTool users]
Another recent change is in the DMPonline service delivery model. The DCC has been running DMP services for overseas clients for several years and is now transitioning the core DMPonline tool to a subscription model based on administrator access to the tool. The core functionality (developing, sharing and publishing DMPs) remains freely accessible to all, as well as the templates, guidance and user manuals we offer. We also remain committed to the Open Source DMPRoadmap codebase. The charges cover the support infrastructure necessary to run a production-level international service. More information is available for our users in a recent announcement. We’re also growing the support team to keep up with the requests we’re receiving. If you are interested in being at the cutting edge of DMP services and engaging with the international community to define future directions, apply to join us!
 
Machine-actionable DMPs
Increasing the opportunities for machine-actionability of DMPs was one of the spurs behind the DMPRoadmap collaboration. Facilities already exist via use of a number of standard identifiers and we’re moving on both the standards development tracks and code development and testing.
 
The CDL has been prototyping for the NSF EAGER grant and started a blog series focused on this work (#1, #2, next installation forthcoming), with an eye to seeding conversations and sharing experiences as many of us begin to experiment in multiple directions. CDL prototyping efforts are separate from the DMPRoadmap project currently but will inform future enhancements.
 

We’re also attempting to inventory global activities and projects on https://activedmps.org Some updates for this page are in the works to highlight new requirements and tools. Please add any other updates you’re aware of! Sarah ran a workshop in South Africa in August on behalf of NeDICC to gather requirements for machine-actionable DMPs there and the DCC will be hosting a visit from DIRISA in December. All the content from the workshop is on Zenodo and you can see how engaged the audience got in mapping our solutions. The DCC is also presenting on recent trends in DMPs as part of the OpenAIRE and FOSTER webinar series for Open Access week 2018. The talk maps out the current and emerging tools from a European perspective. Check out the slides and video

Image: CC-BY ‘Active DMPs in South Africa‘ by Sarah Jones
 
You can also check out the preprint and/or stop by the poster for ‘Ten Principles for Machine-Actionable DMPs’ at Force2018 in Montreal and the RDA plenary in Botswana. This work presents 10 community-generated principles to put machine-actionable DMPs into practice and realize their benefits. The principles describe specific actions that various stakeholders are already undertaking or should take.
 
We encourage everyone to contribute to the session for the DMP Common Standards working group at the next RDA plenary (Nov 5-8 in Botswana). There is community
consensus that interoperability and delivery of DMP information across systems requires a common data model; this group aims to deliver a framework for this essential first step in actualizing machine-actionable DMPs.
 
 

Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun

Courtesy of Stephanie Simms at CDL, here’s our bi-monthly update on all things DMP
 
Image credit: Jon Baglo CC-BY-NC-ND
 
Our DMPTool and DMPonline services have been humming along with the same underlying code for a couple of months now. Since our MVP release, we’ve shifted gears to more regular sprints. We’re also pleasantly surprised by how eager the wider DMP community has been to join forces in migrating, translating, and even contributing new features already!
 
Here’s a brief retrospective and a glimpse into the future.
 
Post MVP Backlog
 
There is a modest backlog of work that didn’t make into the MVP release. We’ve prioritized these issues and are focused on tying up the loose ends over the coming months. Those following the DMPRoadmap Github repository will notice more regular releases. The goal is to settle into a steady two-week rhythm, but in the near term we’re working on slightly shorter or longer cycles to address critical bugs and some minor refactoring. Many thanks to our users on both sides of the pond who have reported issues and provided overwhelmingly positive feedback so far!
 
Evolving processes
 
We’ve been communicating with our respective user communities about new fixes and features as things pertain to them. Some things to note about our evolving development process: 
 
  • DMPRoadmap GitHub repo: this is where most development work happens since the majority of fixes and features apply to the core codebase. This repository also contains all technical documentation, release notes, and other info for those interested in deploying their own instances or contributing to the project. 
  • The DMPRoadmap wiki has a list of potential future enhancements. We’re collating ideas here and will define priorities and requirements in consultation with the community via user groups and listserv discussions. If you have other desired new features please let us know.
  • Any service-specific customizations reside in separate GitHub repos. For example you can find the custom Single-Sign-On code in the DMPTool GitHub repo. The way in which we handle helpdesk functions varies too. DMPTool users can report issues directly in the DMPTool repo or via the helpdesk. If something pertains to the common codebase, Stephanie will tag the issue and transfer it to DMPRoadmap. For DMPonline users we ask you to report issues via the dmponline@dcc.ac.uk helpdesk. 
External contributions
 
Our core dev team is test driving the external contributor guidelines with the French team from DMP OPIDoR. They developed a new feature for a global notification system (e.g., to display maintenance messages, updates to funder templates) that happens to be in our backlog. The new feature looks great and is exactly the kind of contribution we’d like from others. You’ll see it in the next release. Thanks Benjamin and Quentin!
 
We’re also keen to commence monthly community dev calls to learn about other new features that folks might be planning and keep track of how we collaborate on DMP support across the globe.
 
Translations
 
We’ll be adding a new translation for Brazilian Portuguese (thanks to Benilton de Sá Carvalho and colleagues at UNICAMP!) and Finnish thanks to DMPTuuli. We’re also reaching out to fill in missing portions of existing translations for other languages since we added so many new features. New translations are always welcome; more information is available on the GitHub wiki and/or contact us.
 
A machine-actionable future
 
With the launch milestone behind us, we’re devoting more attention and resources to creating a machine-actionable future for DMPs. Two working groups hosted productive sessions at the recent RDA plenary (DMP Common Standards, Exposing DMPs) that included lightning talk presentations by members of the DMPRoadmap project (slides 44-51). Both of the groups are on track to provide actionable outputs in the next 12 months that will bolster wider community efforts on this front. We will continue participating in both groups as well as begin prototyping things with the NSF EAGER grant awarded to the California Digital Library. Stay tuned for more details via future updates and check out the activedmps.org site to get involved.

Equality won’t happen by itself: our attempt to address it at IDCC


And so it began…

We’ve made a concerted effort over the years to be representative at IDCC, largely thanks to Liz Lyon’s shaping of the conference programme, and I feel we’ve been successful in creating an open, welcoming atmosphere where all delegates are able to share their ideas and build new collaborations, irrespective of their backgrounds. There’s always more you can do though.

I saw a Tweet about the Carter et al research into women’s participation in asking questions at seminars and was intrigued that something as simple as preferencing who got to ask the first question could have such an effect. I know from experience that I’ve often had a question but not been able to pluck up the courage to ask. Would I really feel more confident by hearing others like me go first?

We honestly didn’t know what the reaction would be. I expected it to be obvious that we’d invited all-female chairs and to get some kickback about positive discrimination, but only Rachael Kotarski noticed and commented on this pre-conference. Others remarked on how many female speakers there were, but gender equality wasn’t really a topic until Kevin shared statistics on it in his closing remarks.

Those closing remarks followed a powerful and emotive keynote by Nancy McGovern. I’d proposed inviting her but to my shame hadn’t looked at what she was going to cover. I assumed it would be about digital preservation, but her personal reflections on community building, radical collaboration and inclusivity couldn’t have been a more perfect close to the event. Nancy put forward an impassioned and eloquent argument that diversity of all kinds enriches the communities we are part of and the progress they make. We should always have a broad table and come to collaborations in a spirit of being truly open-minded, willing to listen, compromise and be challenged.

Last year I was invited to sit on the FAIR Data Expert Group by the European Commission. I was initially surprised and a little daunted by the breadth of experience and seniority of other members. I hadn’t identified myself as part of that particular community and had to overcome a number of barriers in my own mind to accept. It’s testament to the other members of the Group, and particularly Simon Hodson in his style of chairing, that I’ve felt welcomed, empowered to state my opinions, and unfazed when these are challenged. The experience has helped me to acknowledge the value of my expertise and appreciate why I was invited in the first place.

All of the fora we engage in as a community should be diverse, open and inclusive. Unconscious bias and self-limiting behaviours are really hard to overcome, but it is incumbent on all of us to act respectfully, call out unfair treatment, and support everyone to make their contribution, irrespective of gender, age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or any other factors. Tiny changes will slowly adjust the culture and they are easy to make.

Melanie Imming asked whether the experiment we did had been more work. In contrast I think it actually made things easier. We have a good gender balance at IDCC (59% of this year’s participants were female) and there was no shortage of really well-suited options for chairs. In fact we had a large reserve list, but no need to call on it. Everyone accepted the invite and did so immediately. No hanging around and chasing up offers. We gave very minimal session chair guidelines and let things run a natural course.

Speaking to the chairs at the conference, I found that several had experienced multiple emotions like me – surprise at being asked, slight anxiety, excitement, pride, and happiness to be able to give something back to the community that had helped them. As to whether the experiment paid off I don’t know. We weren’t scientific in counting audience members and questions, but I for one asked more questions than I ever have at a conference before. I hope our actions have empowered others to value their opinions more highly and feel confident enough to express them. This is what will drive us forward.

Pizza Party!

The DMPTool team has embarked on a major housekeeping effort in order to migrate to the DMPRoadmap platform in February 2018. Last week they began a global audit of the funder templates and guidance in an all-day pizza-fueled event that amounted to a h…

Roll up, roll up! Get yer DMP update here.

Image Paper seller and bench CC-BY-NC-ND By Henry…
Last month saw a busy Active DMPs and Domain Repositories Interest Groups joint session at the RDA Plenary at Montreal. Two new working groups have been launched to advance work in this area: one on…

DMPRoadmap summer camp news

Image credit: Airstream CC-BY-NC by dwstucke
 
This summer we’ve made solid progress toward our DMPRoadmap MVP, done oodles of outreach for machine-actionable DMPs, and addressed some DMPTool and DMPonline-specific items. Keep reading for t…

Incentivising open practices

While some studies have shown that researchers share data because it’s the right thing to do [1], direct benefits clearly have a tangible impact too. Several research papers have demonstrated a boost in citation rates across a range of disciplines when underlying data are shared [2]. There have also been repeated calls over the years for good practice to be recognised as part of tenure or promotion criteria, though few concrete examples of doing so have arisen to date.

In his keynote at the Repository Fringe conference earlier this month, Dr Paul Ayris, Pro-Vice-Provost, reported that UCL have done exactly that – there is now explicit recognition of open practices in the Academic Careers Framework.

“All research outputs are available through Open Access wherever possible”

This means that academics will be rewarded for open practices, whether that be making their published works available open access, sharing research data, or undertaking work in an open way. The addition is intentionally broad to recognise any contributions towards open scholarship. The provision is a threshold criterion, which is expected of all academic colleagues embracing the new Framework. Academic colleagues are free to submit examples of their Open approach to sharing their research outputs and the impact that this sharing has.

What was particularly encouraging to hear was that the University didn’t receive any resistance to this change. Typically the difficulties in updating policy and mandating openness are put forward as a barrier, but in their year-long consultation with Faculty, this provision was accepted.

Mirroring policy structures on a European level, the University has also established its own Open Science Policy Platform to coordinate work across all areas of open scholarship and ensure the institution leads developments in this field.

Another impressive development at UCL is the introduction of the first fully Open Access University Press. Paul noted how this has transformed monograph publishing and distribution, citing examples of textbooks with over 100,000 accesses, whereas 400 copies is considered a good level of sales for the traditional publication route. Authors also explained their choice in opting for the Press over other routes, considering openness to colleagues in developing countries a key factor.

The progress made at UCL to recognise and support open practices will undoubtedly help speed forward the culture change. It should also inspire other institutions to follow suit. If you have policies requiring the management and sharing of research outputs, recognising and rewarding those who act on these should also follow.

For the full presentation Paul gave with Tiberius Ignat of Scientific Knowledge Services in Switzerland, see the University of Edinburgh ERA repository.

[1] The 2016 Jisc DAF study of 1,185 UK researchers found that the highest reason cited as a motivation for sharing data was that “Research is a public good and should be open to all”. See slide 20 at: https://www.slideshare.net/JiscRDM/daf-survey-results-research-data-network The e-Infrastructures Austria study of 3026 Austrian researchers found that 54% of respondents considered research data to be a relevant scientific output, noting this as the fourth highest incentive to share. See question 16 in the full report at: https://phaidra.univie.ac.at/detail_object/o:409318?SID=10009269

[2] For example see the references in the SPARC Europe briefing paper on “The Open Data Citation Advantage” at: http://sparceurope.org/open-data-citation-advantage

On the right track(s) – DCC release draws nigh

Eurostar by red hand records CC-BY-ND
Preliminary DMPRoadmap out to test
We’ve made a major breakthrough this month, getting a preliminary version of the DMPRoadmap code out to test on DMPonline, DMPTuuli and DMPMelbourne. This has taken longer …