Versioned data: why it is needed and how it can be achieved (easily and cheaply)

Authors : Daniel S. Falster, Richard G. FitzJohn, Matthew W. Pennell, William K. Cornwell

The sharing and re-use of data has become a cornerstone of modern science. Multiple platforms now allow quick and easy data sharing. So far, however, data publishing models have not accommodated on-going scientific improvements in data: for many problems, datasets continue to grow with time — more records are added, errors fixed, and new data structures are created. In other words, datasets, like scientific knowledge, advance with time.

We therefore suggest that many datasets would be usefully published as a series of versions, with a simple naming system to allow users to perceive the type of change between versions. In this article, we argue for adopting the paradigm and processes for versioned data, analogous to software versioning.

We also introduce a system called Versioned Data Delivery and present tools for creating, archiving, and distributing versioned data easily, quickly, and cheaply. These new tools allow for individual research groups to shift from a static model of data curation to a dynamic and versioned model that more naturally matches the scientific process.

URL : Versioned data: why it is needed and how it can be achieved (easily and cheaply)



Building a Disciplinary, World‐Wide Data Infrastructure

Authors: Françoise Genova, Christophe Arviset, Bridget M. Almas, Laura Bartolo, Daan Broeder, Emily Law, Brian McMahon

Sharing scientific data with the objective of making it discoverable, accessible, reusable, and interoperable requires work and presents challenges being faced at the disciplinary level to define in particular how the data should be formatted and described.

This paper represents the Proceedings of a session held at SciDataCon 2016 (Denver, 12–13 September 2016). It explores the way a range of disciplines, namely materials science, crystallography, astronomy, earth sciences, humanities and linguistics, get organized at the international level to address those challenges. T

he disciplinary culture with respect to data sharing, science drivers, organization, lessons learnt and the elements of the data infrastructure which are or could be shared with others are briefly described. Commonalities and differences are assessed.

Common key elements for success are identified: data sharing should be science driven; defining the disciplinary part of the interdisciplinary standards is mandatory but challenging; sharing of applications should accompany data sharing. Incentives such as journal and funding agency requirements are also similar.

For all, social aspects are more challenging than technological ones. Governance is more diverse, often specific to the discipline organization. Being problem‐driven is also a key factor of success for building bridges to enable interdisciplinary research.

Several international data organizations such as CODATA, RDA and WDS can facilitate the establishment of disciplinary interoperability frameworks. As a spin‐off of the session, a RDA Disciplinary Interoperability Interest Group is proposed to bring together representatives across disciplines to better organize and drive the discussion for prioritizing, harmonizing and efficiently articulating disciplinary needs.

URL : Building a Disciplinary, World‐Wide Data Infrastructure



How to responsibly acknowledge research work in the era of big data and biobanks: ethical aspects of the Bioresource Research Impact Factor (BRIF)

Authors : Heidi Carmen Howard, Deborah Mascalzoni, Laurence Mabile, Gry Houeland, Emmanuelle Rial-Sebbag, Anne Cambon-Thomsen

Currently, a great deal of biomedical research in fields such as epidemiology, clinical trials and genetics is reliant on vast amounts of biological and phenotypic information collected and assembled in biobanks.

While many resources are being invested to ensure that comprehensive and well-organised biobanks are able to provide increased access to, and sharing of biomedical samples and information, many barriers and challenges remain to such responsible and extensive sharing.

Germane to the discussion herein is the barrier to collecting and sharing bioresources related to the lack of proper recognition of researchers and clinicians who developed the bioresource. Indeed, the efforts and resources invested to set up and sustain a bioresource can be enormous and such work should be easily traced and properly recognised.

However, there is currently no such system that systematically and accurately traces and attributes recognition to those doing this work or the bioresource institution itself. As a beginning of a solution to the “recognition problem”, the Bioresource Research Impact Factor/Framework (BRIF) initiative was proposed almost a decade and a half ago and is currently under further development.

With the ultimate aim of increasing awareness and understanding of the BRIF, in this article, we contribute the following: (1) a review of the objectives and functions of the BRIF including the description of two tools that will help in the deployment of the BRIF, the CoBRA (Citation of BioResources in journal Articles) guideline, and the Open Journal of Bioresources (OJB); (2) the results of a small empirical study on stakeholder awareness of the BRIF and (3) a brief analysis of the ethical dimensions of the BRIF which allow it to be a positive contribution to responsible biobanking.

URL : How to responsibly acknowledge research work in the era of big data and biobanks: ethical aspects of the Bioresource Research Impact Factor (BRIF)

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Rethinking Data Sharing and Human Participant Protection in Social Science Research: Applications from the Qualitative Realm

Authors : Dessi Kirilova, Sebastian Karcher

While data sharing is becoming increasingly common in quantitative social inquiry, qualitative data are rarely shared. One factor inhibiting data sharing is a concern about human participant protections and privacy.

Protecting the confidentiality and safety of research participants is a concern for both quantitative and qualitative researchers, but it raises specific concerns within the epistemic context of qualitative research.

Thus, the applicability of emerging protection models from the quantitative realm must be carefully evaluated for application to the qualitative realm. At the same time, qualitative scholars already employ a variety of strategies for human-participant protection implicitly or informally during the research process.

In this practice paper, we assess available strategies for protecting human participants and how they can be deployed. We describe a spectrum of possible data management options, such as de-identification and applying access controls, including some already employed by the Qualitative Data Repository (QDR) in tandem with its pilot depositors.

Throughout the discussion, we consider the tension between modifying data or restricting access to them, and retaining their analytic value.

We argue that developing explicit guidelines for sharing qualitative data generated through interaction with humans will allow scholars to address privacy concerns and increase the secondary use of their data.

URL : Rethinking Data Sharing and Human Participant Protection in Social Science Research: Applications from the Qualitative Realm



The new alchemy: Online networking, data sharing and research activity distribution tools for scientists

Authors : Antony J. Williams, Lou Peck, Sean Ekins

There is an abundance of free online tools accessible to scientists and others that can be used for online networking, data sharing and measuring research impact. Despite this, few scientists know how these tools can be used or fail to take advantage of using them as an integrated pipeline to raise awareness of their research outputs.

In this article, the authors describe their experiences with these tools and how they can make best use of them to make their scientific research generally more accessible, extending its reach beyond their own direct networks, and communicating their ideas to new audiences.

These efforts have the potential to drive science by sparking new collaborations and interdisciplinary research projects that may lead to future publications, funding and commercial opportunities.

The intent of this article is to: describe some of these freely accessible networking tools and affiliated products; demonstrate from our own experiences how they can be utilized effectively; and, inspire their adoption by new users for the benefit of science.

URL : The new alchemy: Online networking, data sharing and research activity distribution tools for scientists


How to share data for collaboration

Authors : Shannon E Ellis, Jeffrey T Leek

Within the statistics community, a number of guiding principles for sharing data have emerged; however, these principles are not always made clear to collaborators generating the data. To bridge this divide, we have established a set of guidelines for sharing data.

In these, we highlight the need to provide raw data to the statistician, the importance of consistent formatting, and the necessity of including all essential experimental information and pre-processing steps carried out to the statistician. With these guidelines we hope to avoid errors and delays in data analysis.

URL : How to share data for collaboration



The legal and policy framework for scientific data sharing, mining and reuse

Author : Mélanie Dulong de Rosnay

Text and Data Mining, the automatic processing of large amounts of scientific articles and datasets, is an essential practice for contemporary researchers. Some publishers are challenging it as a lawful activity and the topic is being discussed during European copyright law reform process.

In order to better understand the underlying debate and contribute to the policy discussion, this article first examines the legal status of data access and reuse and licensing policies. It then presents available options supporting the exercise of Text and Data Mining: publication under open licenses, open access legislations and a recognition of the legitimacy of the activity.

For that purpose, the paper analyses the scientific rational for sharing and its legal and technical challenges and opportunities. In particular, it surveys existing open access and open data legislations and discusses implementation in European and Latin America jurisdictions.

Framing Text and Data mining as an exception to copyright could be problematic as it de facto denies that this activity is part of a positive right to read and should not require additional permission nor licensing.

It is crucial in licenses and legislations to provide a correct definition of what is Open Access, and to address the question of pre-existing copyright agreements. Also, providing implementation means and technical support is key. Otherwise, legislations could remain declarations of good principles if repositories are acting as empty shells.