Developed with the aim of helping to plot a path for all European universities who wish to make their data open and available for reuse, the Roadmap makes a series of recommendations targeted at institutional leadership, support services and European policy makers.
As a LIBER representative, and one of the contributors to the Roadmap, I was invited to provide comment on the elements of the Roadmap that particularly resonated with LIBER’s ongoing work on open data and research data management as well as the potential implications for the library community.
From the point of view of the library community the launch of this roadmap is a very welcome and timely development. Open data and research data management have been on the agenda of LIBER and our members for some times. In the Summer of 2012 we issued our Ten Recommendations for Libraries to Get Started in Research Data Management. One of these recommendations was for libraries to actively participate in institutional research data policy development. One the eve of the launch of the Horizon 2020 open data pilot, the LERU Roadmap finally gives libraries a framework in which to do this.
In examining the recommendations made in the roadmap it is impossible to prioritise any one or two recommendations over the others. Indeed, what the Roadmap outlines is a balancing exercise; the need to balance the demand for support and guidance in research data management with the development and training of skilled professionals; the implementation of standards for interoperability (e.g. metadata standards) with incentives (certainly not disincentives with onerous mandatory metadata requirements) for researchers; the principle of open by default with clarity around ownership and ethics.
In terms of dealing with the demand for research data management support, institutions must insure that that demand is matched with the availability of skilled support staff and appropriate support services. Libraries are one of the potential frontline support services impacted by an increase in demand for research data management support. As Paul Ayris, LIBER President and lead author of the Roadmap said in his introductory talk, ‘a research data management policy is a baseline’, and for libraries, this baseline can be used to help define their role and redesign their services accordingly. ‘ As well as the redesign of library service, serious investment must be made in reskilling library professionals.
There are two recommendation which I chose to highlight during the launch event:
Recommendation 36 stating that LERU member should promote best practice in data management, citation and interoperability to increase the visibility of data and to strengthen the credibility of scientific publications will be at the root of the success of open data globally. It is also a recommendation which libraries can be at the heart of implementing by working across disciplines to help agree and promote standards and best practice, and cooperating with data centres and repositories.
Recommendation 44, aimed at European policy makers, calls for European copyright frameworks in the EU Information Society Directive and the EU Database Directive to be revised to facilitate text and data mining. This is something which LIBER has also called for. The Roadmap is couched within the context of data driven innovation and the principle of ‘open by default’ is endorsed with this in mind. Facilitating reuse, however, is not as simple as attaching an open license and may be impacted by regional variations in IP legislation and the sui generis database right.
Lastly, as the work of the ReCODE project has shown, huge disparities exist across disciplines in attitudes and practices related to open data. Institutional data management policies need the flexibility to be able to deal with these disparities. It is also highly likely, that over time and with an increase in incentives, further development of standards, and embedding of skills, attitudes and practices will change. This will require further iterations of the policy in consultation with stakeholders from across the institutions.
It is hoped that LERU will carry out further work to elaborate on the Roadmap. I will be watching this space with anticipation. In the meantime, I hope that LIBER and LIBER members will use this roadmap as a foundation on which to build so that we can start dealing with the practicalities of making data open and available for resue.
The LERU Roadmap is available for download here: http://www.leru.org/index.php/public/news/press-release-leru-roadmap-for-research-data/