At LIBER’s 2013 conference, our steering committee on Scholarly Communication and Research Infrastructures held a workshop that looked at the current state of Open Access policies across Europe and offered strategies for getting started in Research Data Management (RDM).
The first part of the session focused on New Horizons For Open Access Policies in Europe. It began with a general introduction to the topic and the work of the steering committee from the committee’s chair, Norbert Lossau. His key points were:
- The role of the research library is changing to a service provider, as well as a provider of digital and traditional content;
- Open Access will become the general rule for publications
- An Open Access pilot scheme will be set up by the European Commission to stimulate information re-use and data-driven science (read more)
Next, Jean Francois Lutz of the Université de Lorraine explained how Open Access had evolved over the past decade and said the EC’s Horizon 2020 program could prove to be a turning point for the national approach. His key points were:
- French research institutions have warmly welcomed the recommendations and a debate in particular among publishers and editors in the Humanities and Social Sciences (HSS) has been launched.
- On a national level, an action plan has been launched covering seven areas including green and gold OA, embargo periods and legal issues. France will follow the ‘green’ and ‘gold’ route in the short to medium term.
- For gold OA the costs and scalability of models have to be considered carefully.
- Networks such as SPARC Europe, OpenAIRE and MedOANet play an important role in advocating for and implementing OA strategies.
To talk more about the role of networks in promoting Open Access, Ilaria Fava gave an overview of the MedOANet project. Her key points were:
- MedOAnet aims to identify and map existing strategies, structures and policies while taking into account both common trends and differences in the appraisal of OA.
- Key stakeholders are engaged through national task forces and guidelines produced for policy makers, in particular for implementing the EC’s recommendations.
- MedOANet shows that cooperation and coordinated actions are vital to promote OA and related policies
The session then looked at OA policies in Nordic countries as seen from the perspective of Niels Stern, head of publishing at the Nordic Council of Ministers. His key points were:
- NORDEN offers an open and interoperable OA infrastructure
- Regional opportunities included some “low hanging fruits” such as the ability to share experiences and co-ordinate advocacy and communication activities (eg. sharing of material, co-hosting events etc)
- Future actions include the launch of a Nordic repository and the implementation of an OA policy in 2014.
Research Data Management
The session then moved on to the topic of Research Data Management, from the perspective of three speakers.
Jeroen Rombouts spoke about Collaboration and Services:
Wolfram Horstmann spoke about Policies & Infrastructure:
Rob Grim spoke about Skilling The Workforce:
After the presentations the participants were asked to provide feedback on LIBER’s 10 Recommendations For Libraries To Get Started With Research Data Management and invited to pose questions about issues that needed further clarification. Below is a brief summary of the comments and questions that were put forward by the audience as well as some of the reflections from the panel members.
Audience: What do you recommend to institutions who want to get started with Research Data Management (RDM)?
The panel members (speakers) agreed that there was no single best practice or approach to get started with RDM in an institution. The support and commitment of key players and stakeholders was seen as crucial to long-term success. Policies for RDM within your institution were also seen as critical for the uptake and implementation of data management plans (DMPs). That said, neither support from a central level nor DMPs needed to be set up in advance to get started with RDM. It was equally important for research libraries get involved in small ad hoc projects where researchers, IT and library staff could actively collaborate to archive research data and make research data available for reuse. Small projects could be a good starting point to define the contents and minimum requirements of a data management plan for a particular research group.
Panel members provided several insider tips on how approach RDM from a practical standpoint.
- Promote and proactively advocate RDM policy adoption within your institution and among research groups. Take a proactive role in RDM policy development within your institution.
- “Don’t overeat”! Try to find a group, with a manageable problem and work with them.
- Initiate and participate whenever possible in subject and discipline specific RDM activities.
- Look for RDM funding opportunities in calls for grants, projects, etc. Advocate the opportunities for RDM activities to research groups and research offices within your institution.
- Regarding data management plans: Find out how others develop DMPs. You don’t have start from scratch.
- RDM activities that go beyond information provision require partnerships with research groups and often also the IT department.
Audience: Can you explain the difference between a vertical and horizontal roll out of RDM activities?
An example of a vertical roll out is when a tool has been developed which enables a research group to deposit their research data: Can this tool be adapted for general use by other research groups to deposit their data? The University of Bielefeld is an example of a vertical roll out for RDM activities (see Wolfram Horstmann’s presentation). An example of a horizontal roll out would be when a RDM policy is adopted at a central level of an institution and funding is available to implement RDM activities across faculties and research groups. Oxford University is an example of a horizontal roll out of RDM activities.
Should Libraries only focus on Research Data Management? What about software and program code?
Research data management refers to activities related to archiving, preserving and the curation of research data. Preparing research data for reuse includes describing the research data in such a way that data can be meaningfully interpreted by a machine, experts and peers. In addition, if research data is going to be shared openly in the public domain the data should also be readily accessible and interpretable to non-experts. Depending on the target group and the expected re-use of the research data, the requirements for documentation may be more general or specific.
Archiving and preserving software code requires domain expertise that not every research library needs to develop. A research library needs to be well-connected though to other actors in the data landscape, such for example data archives and data centers. This is to make sure that the data sets and the supplementary materials which are kept in research libraries – including software code – can be used in the future. Research libraries therefore need to be knowledgeable about the type of data sources and other types of digital content in their repositories.
- In comparison to Open Access publishing and institutional repositories RDM explicitly requires collaboration of researchers, IT and library staff.
- Current institutional best practices do have a mix of central, centrally supported and subject or discipline specific RDM activities.
- RDM is still a new emerging field in which libraries are sometimes at the forefront of developing policies for institutions on research data management.
- Sustaining and strengthening RDM activities requires collaboration with other organizations in the national and international data landscape.
Thanks to Rob Grim, Birgit Schmidt and Wilma van Wezenbeek for their help in writing this report.