The term ‘low hanging fruit’ is one that has been repeated again and again in the various discussions that have taken place surrounding data sharing over the past few months.
Yesterday at the European Coordination Workshop: Accessing and Preserving Scientific Information in Barcelona, the term came up in relation to how we could realise the Europeans Commission’s Recommendation on on access to and preservation of scientific information,which makes recommendations to member states in the areas of open access to publications, open access to research data, preservation and reuse of scientific information, and e-infrastructures.
The sentiment behind the effort to identify low hanging fruit is these areas is that, for most stakeholders, the benefit of making Open Access to scientific information has been acknowleged, barriers and opportunities have been recognised, and we now need to mobilise to make those opportunities a reality.
Arguably, nowhere is this sentiment more strongly represented than in the Research Data Alliance(RDA). The RDA is a joint European, US, Canadian and Australian initiative which brings together stakeholders with an interest in accelerating international data-driven innovation and discovery by facilitating research data sharing and exchange, use and re-use, standards harmonization, and discoverability.
In October LIBER attended the first planning meeting of the RDA. On the day there was a diverse array of stakeholders present at the meeting; from funding agencies, research institutes, data support service providers and data centres, computing centres, international initiatives, and a few libraries. The premise of the planning meeting was simple: we all have cross cutting issues when it comes to making data sharing a reality; there are some issues which, with a collaborative effort, can be solved quickly and easily (low hanging fruit); it is in the interest of stakeholders to work together to solve these common issues; so, let’s get on with it. The planning meeting set out to identify common issues to address and to form working groups around prior to the official launch of the RDA. Some of the possible working groups identified included metadata (e.g. minimal metadata), harmonising basic terminology, dissemination to ‘late adopter’(long tail data) communities. This is just a selection of the interest groups and there will be further groups. It is important for the RDA to keep the goals of the working groups simple and achievable (and short term) because the success of the initiative is predicated on the need for common solutions driving stakeholders to collaborate at the level of the RDA*.
At the 2012 iPRES in Toronto at the beginning of October practitioners and researchers in digital preservation came together to discuss and present their work. Crowdsourcing Representation Information to Support Preservation (cRIsp) was launched at the conference and serves to show that collaboration need not be overly complex or time consuming. cRIsp is a community effort to collect representation information (which is essential for digital curation). cRIsp attempts to solve a common problem that is costly the community dearly in terms over overlap of effort. It works because there is a common need for a single registry and because it’s very simple to contribute to (via a Webform or by tweeting to @dpref), and anyone can contribute as little or as much as they like.