Category: DCC News

Active, actionable DMPs

Roadmap project IDCC briefing
We had a spectacularly productive IDCC last month thanks to everyone who participated in the various meetings and events focused on the DMPRoadmap project and machine-actionable DMPs. Thank you, thank you! Sarah has since …

Roadmap retrospective: 2016

 
Here’s an update on DMPRoadmap, courtesy of Stephanie Simms at CDL
 
2016 in review
 
The past year has been a wild ride, in more ways than one… Despite our respective political climates, UC3 and DCC remain enthusiastic about our partnership and the future of DMPs. Below is a brief retrospective about where we’ve been in 2016 and a roadmap (if you will…we also wish we’d chosen a different name for our joint project) for where we’re going in 2017. Jump to the end if you just want to know how to get involved with DMP events at the International Digital Curation Conference (IDCC 2017, 20–23 Feb in Edinburgh, register here).
 
In 2016 we consolidated our UC3-DCC project team, our plans for the merged platform (see the roadmap to MVP), and began testing a co-development process that will provide a framework for community contributions down the line. We’re plowing through the list of features and adding documentation to the GitHub repo—all are invited to join us at IDCC 2017 for presentations and demos of our progress to date (papers, slides, etc. will all be posted after the event). For those not attending IDCC, please let us know if you have ideas, questions, anything at all to contribute ahead of the event!
 
DMPs sans frontières 
 
Now we’d like to take a minute and reflect on events of the past year, particularly in the realm of open data policies, and the implications for DMPs and data management writ large. The open scholarship revolution has progressed to a point where top-level policies mandate open access to the results of government-funded research, including research data, in the US, UK, and EU, with similar principles and policies gaining momentum in Australia, Canada, South Africa, and elsewhere. DMPs are the primary vehicle for complying with these policies, and because research is a global enterprise, awareness of DMPs has spread throughout the research community. Another encouraging development is the ubiquity of the term FAIR data (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable), which suggests that we’re all in agreement about what we’re trying to achieve.
 
On top of the accumulation of national data policies, 2016 ushered in a series of related developments in openness that contribute to the DMP conversation. To name a few:
 
  • More publishers articulated clear data policies, e.g., Springer Nature Research Data Policies apply to over 600 journals.
  • PLOS now requires an ORCID for all corresponding authors at the time of manuscript submission to promote discoverability and credit.
  • The Gates Foundation reinforced support for open access and open data by preventing funded researchers from publishing in journals that do not comply with its policy, which came into force at the beginning of 2017; this includes non-compliant high-impact journals such as Science, Nature, PNAS, and NEJM.
  • Researchers throughout the world continued to circumvent subscription access to scholarly literature by using Sci-Hub (Bohannon, 2016).
  • Library consortia in Germany and Taiwan canceled (or threatened to cancel) subscriptions to Elsevier journals because of open-access related conflicts, and Peru canceled over a lack of government funding for expensive paid access (Schiermeier and Rodríguez Mega, 2017).
  • Reproducibility continued to gain prominence, e.g., the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) Policy on Rigor and Reproducibility came into force for most NIH and AHRQ grant proposals received in 2016.
  • The Software Citation Principles (Smith et al., 2016) recognized software as an important product of modern research that needs to be managed alongside data and other outputs.
This flurry of open scholarship activity, both top-down and bottom-up, across all stakeholders continues to drive adoption of our services. DMPonline and the DMPTool were developed in 2011 to support open data policies in the UK and US, respectively, but today our organizations engage with users throughout the world. An upsurge in international users is evident from email addresses for new accounts and web analytics. In addition, local installations of our open source tools, as both national and institutional services, continue to multiply (see a complete list here). 
 
Over the past year, the DMP community has validated our decision to consolidate our efforts by merging our technical platforms and coordinating outreach activities. The DMPRoadmap project feeds into a larger goal of harnessing the work of international DMP projects to benefit the entire community. We’re also engaged with some vibrant international working groups (e.g., Research Data Alliance Active DMPs, FORCE11 FAIR DMPs, Data Documentation Initiative DMP Metadata group) that have provided the opportunity to begin developing use cases for machine-actionable DMPs. So far the use cases encompass a controlled vocabulary for DMPs; integrations with other systems (e.g., Zenodo, Dataverse, Figshare, OSF, PURE, grant management systems, electronic lab notebooks); passing information to/from repositories; leveraging persistent identifiers (PIDs); and building APIs. 
 
2017 things to come
This brings us to outlining plans for 2017 and charting a course for DMPs of the future. DCC will be running the new Roadmap code soon. And once we’ve added everything from the development roadmap, the DMPTool will announce our plans for migration. At IDCC we’ll kick off the conversation about bringing the many local installations of our tools along for the ride to actualize the vision of a core, international DMP infrastructure. A Canadian and a French team are our gracious guinea pigs for testing the draft external contributor guidelines.
 
There will be plenty of opportunities to connect with us at IDCC. If you’re going to be at the main conference, we encourage you to attend our practice paper and/or join a DMP session we’ll be running in parallel with the BoFs on Wednesday afternoon, 22 Feb. The session will begin with a demo and update on DMPRoadmap; then we’ll break into two parallel tracks. One track will be for developers to learn more about recent data model changes and developer guidelines if they want to contribute to the code. The other track will be a buffet of DMP discussion groups. Given the overwhelming level of interest in the workshop (details below), one of these groups will cover machine-actionable DMPs. We’ll give a brief report on the workshop and invite others to feed into discussion. The other groups are likely to cover training/supporting DMPs, evaluation cribsheets for reviewing DMPs, or other topics per community requests. If there’s something you’d like to propose please let us know!
 
IDCC DMP utopia workshop
We’re also hosting a workshop on Monday, 20 Feb entitled “A postcard from the future: Tools and services from a perfect DMP world.” The focus will be on machine-actionable DMPs and how to integrate DMP tools into existing research workflows and services.  
 
The program includes presentations, activities, and discussion to address questions such as:
  • Where and how do DMPs fit in the overall research lifecycle (i.e., beyond grant proposals)?
  • Which data could be fed automatically from other systems into DMPs (or vice versa)?
  • What information can be validated automatically?
  • Which systems/services should connect with DMP tools?
  • What are the priorities for integrations?
We’ve gathered an international cohort of diverse players in the DMP game—repository managers, data librarians, funders, researchers, developers, etc.—to continue developing machine-actionable use cases and craft a vision for a DMP utopia of the future. We apologize again that we weren’t able to accommodate everyone who wanted to participate in the workshop, but rest assured that we plan to share all of the outputs and will likely convene similar events in the future. 
 
Keep a lookout for more detailed information about the workshop program in the coming weeks and feel free to continue providing input before, during, and afterward. This is absolutely a community-driven effort and we look forward to continuing our collaborations into the new year!

DMP themes: And then there were 14…

We issued a call for input on the DMP themes in late September and received feedback from across the UK, Europe and the USA. Many thanks to all who responded. It’s really helped to confirm our thinking.
 
We asked a few specific questions:

The DCC and its services

The DCC has undergone continuous change since it was established as a consortium in 2004 jointly funded by JISC and the UK E-Science programme. Periodically it’s important for us to clarify what these changes are and what implications they do – or don’t – have for the services you expect from us. The last six years have been marked by a deliberate diversification of the DCC’s income streams, an intensification of its international role and a corresponding reduction in its dependence on a core funding stream from Jisc which was under increasing pressure as that organisation went through a transition process following the Wilson review. Over the years, we’ve moved some activities to a cost recovery basis, increased project funding from other sources such as the European Commission and grown a healthy income stream from online services and consultancy. This trend continues as the core funding stream from Jisc came to an end in July 2016.

What does this mean for UK universities and researchers? In many ways, very little – in others, potentially a lot. Our existence is secure and our finances are healthy. We have a business plan for the next 5 years that anticipates growth and is grounded in reality. That’s been enough for our lead host, the University of Edinburgh, to give us the backing we need for continuity of services and staff. The University recognises the importance of having an impartial, national service and values the international recognition and prestige that hosting the DCC brings.

The main service we want to provide assurances on is DMPonline. We will continue to provide this as a UK national and international service and can guarantee ongoing support for a minimum of 2 years with a promise of at least 2 years notice should we need to make changes to that provision. We already have overseas customers for DMPonlne to whom we have made long-term commitments. The service is also a key component of a number of European e-infrastructure projects.  We’re engaging in discussions with key UK representative organisations to find the right business model for long-term UK provision and we welcome your views on that. The DCC has pioneered work in this area with funding support from BIS, Jisc, the European Commission and the University of Edinburgh’s Information Services Innovation Fund amongst other sources. We’re grateful to all of them for their support, past and present. We continue to commit significant resources, and in collaboration with our partners at the California Digital Library, are co-creating a single DMP platform that we’re confident is the world’s best. Current international initiatives on DMPs require collaboration and coordination of the key players and the DCC will continue to push that agenda through the Research Data Alliance and other appropriate bodies.  We are committed to ensuring that the rich expertise held by our staff remains accessible to the community. DMPonline will remain free to use to researchers. We continue to be able to provide support for institutional branding and customisation on a service contract or consultancy basis.

Our events such as RDMF and IDCC have been covering their costs now for some years, and we will continue to operate them as long as demand exists, and initiate new events where we see a requirement that is unlikely to be met by another agency. Identifying issues of common concern and providing fora to bring communities together to address them has always been part of our remit.  Our training has also been running on a cost-recovery basis for some time, and has expanded as a result. We continue to run courses that are open to all as well as in-house custom events for organisations in the UK and elsewhere.

We’ll also continue to produce publications and guidance of the quality you have come to expect from us alone or in collaboration with others, including The International Journal of Digital Curation (IJDC). We will also continue to engage with international bodies such as the Research Data Alliance, of which we are a founding organisational member. We’ll report back to you on what is happening and provide a channel for your concerns and ideas and/or foster participation by you and your colleagues.

Many of you will know that we continue to be involved in a number of European projects building and exploiting research infrastructures such as EUDAT, OpenAIRE and the European Open Science Cloud Pilot, and are doing an increasing amount of consultancy, which now provides over 20% of our income.  Our clients include universities, funders and a variety of international bodies.

We’ve spoken with many of our contacts about these changes but we realise that they may be a surprise to some. We’re sorry if that’s the case; be assured that our mission remains unchanged – to increase the capability and capacity of organisations worldwide to engage in data curation which fosters data use and reuse.  If you would like to know more about any aspect of our work, explore a collaboration or offer input on anything covered by this post, contact the DCC information desk at info@dcc.ac.uk or, if you prefer, contact me directly – director@dcc.ac.uk.

RDA in the UK: what role do you see?

This week saw the first RDA UK workshop hosted by Jisc in Birmingham. The Research Data Alliance is a community-driven organisation aiming to build the social and technical infrastructure to enable open sharing of data. Members come together throu…

Finding our Roadmap rhythm

In keeping with our monthly updates about the merged Roadmap platform, here’s the short and the long of what we’ve been up to lately courtesy of Stephanie Simms of the DMPTool:

Short update

Long(er) update

This month our main focus has been on getting into a steady 2-week sprint groove that you can track on our GitHub Projects board. DCC/DMPonline is keen to migrate to the new codebase so in preparation we’re revising the database schema and optimizing the code. This clean-up work not only makes things easier for our core development team, but will facilitate community development efforts down the line. It also addresses some scalability issues that we encountered during a week of heavy use on the hosted instance of the Finnish DMPTuuli (thanks for the lessons learned, Finland!). We’ve also been evaluating dependencies and fixing all the bugs introduced by the recent Rails and Bootstrap migrations.

Once things are in good working order, DMPonline will complete their migration and we’ll shift focus to adding new features from the MVP roadmap. DMPTool won’t migrate to the new system until we’ve added everything on the list and conducted testing with our institutional partners from the steering committee. The CDL UX team is also helping us redesign some things, with particular attention to internationalization and improving accessibility for users with disabilities.

The rest of our activities revolve around gathering requirements and refining some use cases for machine-actionable DMPs. This runs the gamut from big-picture brainstorming to targeted work on features that we’ll implement in the new platform. The first step to achieving the latter involves a collaboration with Substance.io to implement a new text editor (Substance Forms). The new editor offers increased functionality, a framework for future work on machine-actionability, and delivers a better user experience throughout the platform. In addition, we’re refining the DMPonline themes (details here)—we’re still collecting feedback and are grateful to all those who have weighed in so far. Sarah and I will consolidate community input and share the new set of themes during the first meeting of a DDI working group to create a DMP vocabulary. We plan to coordinate our work on the themes with this parallel effort—more details as things get moving on that front in Nov.

Future brainstorming events include PIDapalooza—come to Iceland and share your ideas about persistent identifiers in DMPs!—and the International Digital Curation Conference (IDCC) 2017 for which registration is now open. We’ll present a Roadmap update at IDCC along with a demo of the new system. In addition, we’re hosting an interactive workshop for developers et al. to help us envision (and plan for) a perfect DMP world with tools and services that support FAIR, machine-actionable DMPs (more details forthcoming).

Two final, related bits of info: 1) we’re still seeking funding to speed up progress toward building machine-actionable DMP infrastructure; we weren’t successful with our Open Science Prize application but are hoping for better news on an IMLS preliminary proposal (both available here). 2) We’re also continuing to promote greater openness with DMPs; one approach involves expanding the RIO Journal Collection of exemplary plans. Check out the latest plan from Ethan White that also lives on GitHub and send us your thoughts on DMP workflows, publishing and sharing DMPs.

A common set of themes for DMPs: seeking input

When the DCC revised DMPonline in 2013, we introduced the concept of themes to the tool. The themes represent the most common topics addressed in Data Management Plans (DMPs) and work like tags to associate questions and guidance. Questions within DMP …

Getting our ducks in a row

Recent activity on the Roadmap project encompasses two major themes: 1) machine-actionable data management plans and 2) kicking off co-development of the shared codebase.

Image credit: ‘Get Your Ducks in a Row‘ CC-BY-SA by Cliff Johnson

Machine-actionable DMPs

The first of these has been a hot topic of conversation among stakeholders in the data management game for some time now, although most use the phrase “machine-readable DMPs.” So what do we mean by machine-actionable DMPs? Per the Data Documentation Initiative definition, “this term refers to information that is structured in a consistent way so that machines can be programmed against the structure.” The goal of machine-actionable DMPs, then, is to better facilitate good data management and reuse practices (think FAIR: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) by enabling:

  • Institutions to manage their data
  • Funders to mine the DMPs they receive
  • Infrastructure providers to plan their resources
  • Researchers to discover data

This term is consistent with the Research Data Alliance Active DMPs Interest Group and the FORCE11 FAIR DMPs group mission statements, and it seems to capture what we’re all thinking: i.e., we want to move beyond static text files to a dynamic inventory of digital research methods, protocols, environments, software, articles, data… One reason for the DMPonline-DMPTool merger is to develop a core infrastructure for implementing use cases that make this possible. We still need a human-readable document with a narrative, but underneath the DMP could have more thematic richness with value for all stakeholders.

A recent Cern/RDA workshop presented the perfect opportunity to consolidate our notes and ideas. In addition to the Roadmap project members, Daniel Mietchen (NIH) and Angus Whyte (DCC) participated in the exercise. We conducted a survey of previous work on the topic (we know we didn’t capture everything so please alert us to things we missed) and began outlining concrete use cases for machine-actionable DMPs, which we plan to develop further through community engagement over the coming months. Another crucial piece of our presentation was a call to make DMPs public, open, discoverable resources. We highlighted existing efforts to promote public DMPs (e.g., the DMPTool Public DMPs list, publishing exemplary DMPs in RIO Journal) but these are just a drop in the bucket compared to what we might be able to do if all DMPs were open by default.  

You can review our slides here. And please send feedback—we want to know what you think!

Let the co-development begin!

Now for the second news item: our ducks are all in a row and work is underway on the shared Roadmap codebase.

We open with a wistful farewell to Marta Ribeiro, who is moving on to an exciting new gig at the Urban Big Data Centre. DCC has hired two new developers to join our ranks—Ray Carrick and Jimmy Angelakos—both from their sister team at EDINA. The finalized co-development team commenced weekly check-in calls and in the next week or two we’ll begin testing the draft co-development process by adding three features from the roadmap:

  1. Enhanced institutional branding
  2. Funder template export
  3. OAuth link an ORCID

In the meantime, Brian is completing the migration to Rails 4.2 and both teams are getting our development environments in place. Our intention is to iterate on the process for a few sprints, iron out the kinks, and then use it and the roadmap as the touchstones for a monthly community developer check-in call. We hope this will provide a forum for sharing use cases and plans for future work (on all instances of the tool) in order to prioritize, coordinate, and alleviate duplication of effort.

The DCC interns have also been plugging away at their respective projects. Sam Rust just finished building some APIs on creating plans and extracting guidance, and is now starting work on the statistics use case. Damodar Sójka meanwhile is completing the internationalization project, drawing from work done by the Canadian DMP Assistant team. We’ll share more details about their work once we roll it back into the main codebase.

Next month the UC Berkeley Web Services team will evaluate the current version of DMPonline to flag any accessibility issues that need to be addressed in the new system. We’ve also been consulting with Rachael Hu on UX strategy. We’re keeping track of requests for the new system and invite you to submit feedback via GitHub issues.

Stay tuned to GitHub and our blog channels for more documentation and regular progress updates.

FOSTER in Scandinavia

It was EARMA (#earmaac2016), the annual gathering of the European Association of Research Managers and Administrators in Lulea this week, and Ivo and I were there donning our FOSTER hats to speak about open science in Horizon 2020. Ivo talked about the impact open science can have on proposals, sharing reviewer feedback he’s collated to show how positively (or negatively!) things can be perceived. It shows the strength that can be added to proposals when support is provided by the institution, and echoes the positive experiences we’ve seen in the UK where universities help researchers to craft robust DMPs. 
 
 
My contribution to the conference is thanks to Vanessa Ravagni of the University of Trento. She proposed a session on Horizon 2020 to explain how open science is a key part of the daily workflow for research managers. I set the scene by explaining what is required by the European Commission in the Open Research Data pilot, and Vanessa and Niahm Brennan of Trinity College Dublin gave examples of how they have been supporting researchers at their universities. Both picked up on the need to engage with researchers to understand their concerns and Niahm gave a great list of typical questions, which resonate with what we’ve heard at DCC. The overlap between ethical approval processes and DMPs also came out in discussion and salutary lessons were shared about researchers being distraught at having to destroy really valuable data as this was written into consent agreements unwittingly. 
 
It was a fleeting visit to Lulea for the FOSTER team, but enough time for dinner and a drink with the Trinity College Dublin cohort. Working our way through the gin menu and watching the sun slowly dip was the perfect end to the day. Next year EARMA will be in Valetta in Malta. It will be a few weeks earlier on 24-26 April, so all those planning to submit papers get ready to write your abstracts soon. 

 
The FOSTER Scandi tour continues next week. We have a fully booked workshop on Wednesday 29th June on Open Science at the Core of Libraries. We’ll be demonstrating the FOSTER portal and doing group activity to define learning objectives and plan the content for new courses. Come prepared to work!

The 20:51 sprint (Roadmap team-building: UK edition)

This week we hosted the DMPTool team to flesh out our plans for ‘roadmap’ – the joint codebase we’re building together based on DMPonline and DMPTool. The key focus was reviewing and prioritising tasks for an initial release. &n…