Author: sarah.jones

Bumper week of FOSTER events

It has been a busy week for FOSTER open science events! David Ball and I have been in the Czech Republic speaking at open science days in Prague and Brno. Martin Donnelly spoke at the 2020 vision event in Oxford, and Joy Davidson is involved in a workshop in collaboration with UNESCO on open science for doctoral schools.

The Czech events have been well represented with speakers from current EC projects, including PASTEUR4OA, OpenAIRE and naturally FOSTER. It’s still early days in terms of open access in the Czech Republic. Several universities have publications repositories (usually based on DSpace) but there are few mandates and uptake is slow. The notion of sharing data openly is a big leap and seems a long way off. It was interesting discussing researchers’ attitudes over dinner. Some of the concerns about sharing are the same as elsewhere, but Jan explained there’s a more deep-seated resistance due to historical events. Being open could bring you into conflict with authority so it will take a lot more advocacy than in other contexts to convince researchers of the benefits.

I’ve found that the starting point of openness can be problematic in training events as some attendees immediately switch off if they don’t feel it applies to them and their data. I think this is a concern for FOSTER and the EC’s Open Data Pilot. More perhaps needs to be made of the benefits of data management per se, with open data sharing being one potential outcome where applicable. Even if data can’t be made openly available, they should still be managed. That message needs to come across more strongly.

David Ball gave an introduction to open access and reflected on studies conducted by PASTEUR4OA and FOSTER. One of these studies showed that the vast quantity of published articles (over 75%) are not deposited at all, but deposit rates are over four times higher for institutions with a mandatory policy. So there is clearly a benefit to having an open access policy. David recommended that policies insist on deposit once papers are accepted for publication and link deposit with research evaluation as these criteria are the most effective.

Two key themes to emerge in discussion were the need for advocacy and concerns about open access limiting the choice of where to deposit. When thinking about how best to communicate open access, David recommended avoiding standalone events. Embedding messages into faculty away days, researcher-led events, or meetings that senior management will already be at is preferable. Given the concerns about data sharing, the need for advocacy from research champions and persuasive examples that demonstrate the benefits to be gained will be essential in the Czech context.

Jana Kratěnová from the Technology Centre of the Academy of Sciences spoke about the Horizon 2020 requirements in more detail. She reflected on the tension between what funders requires and what publishers allow. The EC requirements mandate open access and expect publications to be shared within 6 or 12 months depending on the discipline. Some people are concerned about such policies restricting the choice of publisher, for example if researchers want to publish in a high-impact journal that doesn’t offer ‘gold’ options or allow self-archiving in the required timeframes. From the twitter stream it sounds like similar concerns were raised at the Oxford event too. 

It was interesting to learn more about the open access position in the Czech Republic. Hana, Petra and their colleagues were excellent hosts. We had time to enjoy a wander around the old towns and were told about the local history. We also sampled the excellent wine and beer brewed at the Czech University of Life Sciences. Very tasty!

Resources on EPSRC compliance

May 2015 is fast approaching, so it seems an opportune time to flag some resources provided by the DCC and Jisc to help with EPSRC compliance.
We ran a workshop on RDM readiness earlier this year. Thanks to Laura Molloy we have very comprehensive notes…

Software Management Plan Service prototype live

Guest blog post by Mike Jackson, Software Architect at the Software Sustainability Institute. Reposted from the SSI blog.

 

Software management plans set down goals and processes that ensure software is accessible and reusable throughout a project and beyond. To complement our guide on Writing and using a software management plan we have now developed a prototype software management plan service, powered by the Digital Curation Centre‘s data management plan service, DMPonline

It is easy to concentrate on the short-term issues when developing scientific software. Deadlines for publications, collaboration with others and the demands of a daily routine all conspire to prevent proper planning. A software management plan can help to formalise a set of structures and goals that ensure research software is accessible and reusable in the short, medium and long term. It also helps researchers to consider whether third-party software to be used within a research project will be available, and supported, for the lifetime of the project. They can also give funders confidence that software they have funded survives beyond the funding period, that there is something to show for their investment.

In 2012 we wrote a guide on Writing and using a software management plan to take researchers through the questions they should consider when developing a software management plan. This was influenced by work by the Digital Curation Centre on data management plans.

Both our advisory board, and participants at our Collaborations Workshop 2012, suggested that we complement our guide with an online service. An online service could help researchers understand issues around research software, appreciate why software management plans are important and assist in the preparation of them.

Rather than create yet another service from scratch, we decided to practice what we preach and see if we could reuse an existing research output, DMPonline. DMPonline is the Digital Curation Centre’s data management plan service which helps researchers write data management plans. DMPonline is a Ruby on Rails application and the source is hosted on GitHub licenced under GNU Affero GPL.

We took DMPonline, and updated its form and content into a prototype software management plan service, which is now live. The source is on GitHub.

We hope the service will prompt discussion on:

  • What software management plans should contain.
  • What features a service like this should support, what questions it should ask, and what advice it should give.
  • Overlaps between software and data management plans.

If you have any suggestions then please get in touch. Likewise, we want to collect examples of software management plans that we can link to, so if you have one you are willing to share, please let us know.

We are working closely with the Digital Curation Centre, providing feedback on our experiences in customising DMPonline – DMPonline has been deployed at a number of institutions around the world and the Digital Curation Centre want to make this easier to do. We will also be discussing the overlaps between software and management plans, and whether these can be combined in some way, and, if so, how. And, we’ll be helping with the development of an API for DMPonline.

Both Marta Ribeiro of the Digital Curation Centre and myself will be at our Collaborations Workshop 2015 this week, giving lightning talks and a demo.

Are you ready for EPSRC?

The DCC has been collaborating with Jisc to run a follow-up workshop to our event last May on EPSRC compliance and have been overwhelmed by the response. Registration opened shortly before Christmas and was full before the holidays. We’ve since increased the capacity to 90 and are full again. It seems institutional readiness for Research Data Management is a hot topic!

There will be around 65 different organisations represented at the event, mostly from UK HEIs. It’s great to see that such a broad range of universities are engaging with research data management.

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Fostering open science

Training for EC project officers on open access and open data in Horizon 2020

We ran four half-day workshops at the end of June as part of the FOSTER project. FOSTER aims to facilitate open science by training researchers about open access a…