Towards wide-scale adoption of open science practices: The role of open science communities

Authors : Kristijan Armeni, Loek Brinkman, Rickard Carlsson, Anita Eerland, Rianne Fijten, Robin Fondberg, Vera E Heininga, Stephan Heunis, Wei Qi Koh, Maurits Masselink, Niall Moran, Andrew Ó Baoill, Alexandra Sarafoglou, Antonio Schettino, Hardy Schwamm, Zsuzsika Sjoerds, Marta Teperek, Olmo R van den Akker, Anna van’t Veer, Raul Zurita-Milla

Despite the increasing availability of Open Science (OS) infrastructure and the rise in policies to change behaviour, OS practices are not yet the norm. While pioneering researchers are developing OS practices, the majority sticks to status quo. To transition to common practice, we must engage a critical proportion of the academic community.

In this transition, OS Communities (OSCs) play a key role. OSCs are bottom-up learning groups of scholars that discuss OS within and across disciplines. They make OS knowledge more accessible and facilitate communication among scholars and policymakers.

Over the past two years, eleven OSCs were founded at several Dutch university cities. In other countries, similar OSCs are starting up. In this article, we discuss the pivotal role OSCs play in the large-scale transition to OS.

We emphasize that, despite the grassroot character of OSCs, support from universities is critical for OSCs to be viable, effective, and sustainable.

URL : Towards wide-scale adoption of open science practices: The role of open science communities


Research Data Management for Master’s Students: From Awareness to Action

Authors: Daen Adriaan Ben Smits, Marta Teperek

This article provides an analysis of how sixteen recently graduated master’s students from the Netherlands perceive research data management. It is important to study the master’s students’ attitudes towards this, as students in this phase prepare themselves for their career. Some of them might become future academics or policymakers, thus, potentially, the future advocates of good data management and reproducible science.

In general, students were rather unsure what ‘data management’ meant and would often confuse it with data analysis, study design or methodology, or ethics and privacy. When students defined the concept, they focussed on privacy aspects. Concepts such as open data and the ‘FAIR’ principles were rarely mentioned, even though these are the cornerstones of contemporary data management efforts.

In practice, the students managed their own data in an ad hoc way, and only a few of them worked with a clear data management plan. Illustrative of this is that half of the interviewees did not know where to find their data anymore. Furthermore, their study programmes had diverse approaches to data management education.

Most of the classes offered were limited in scope. Nevertheless, the students seemed to be aware of the importance of data management and were willing to learn more about good data management practices.

This report helps to catch an important first glimpse of how master’s students (from different scientific backgrounds) think about research data management. Only by knowing this, accurate measures can be taken to improve data management awareness and skills.

The article also provides some useful recommendations on what such measures might be, and introduces some of the steps already taken by the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft).

URL : Research Data Management for Master’s Students: From Awareness to Action


Cultural obstacles to research data management and sharing at TU Delft

Authors : Esther Plomp, Nicolas Dintzner, Marta Teperek, Alastair Dunning

Research data management (RDM) is increasingly important in scholarship. Many researchers are, however, unaware of the benefits of good RDM and unsure about the practical steps they can take to improve their RDM practices. Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) addresses this cultural barrier by appointing Data Stewards at every faculty.

By providing expert advice and increasing awareness, the Data Stewardship project focuses on incremental improvements in current data and software management and sharing practices.

This cultural change is accelerated by the Data Champions who share best practices in data management with their peers. The Data Stewards and Data Champions build a community that allows a discipline-specific approach to RDM. Nevertheless, cultural change also requires appropriate rewards and incentives.

While local initiatives are important, and we discuss several examples in this paper, systemic changes to the academic rewards system are needed. This will require collaborative efforts of a broad coalition of stakeholders and we will mention several such initiatives.

This article demonstrates that community building is essential in changing the code and data management culture at TU Delft.

URL : Cultural obstacles to research data management and sharing at TU Delft


On a Quest for Cultural Change – Surveying Research Data Management Practices at Delft University of Technology

Authors : Heather Andrews Mancilla, Marta Teperek, Jasper van Dijck, Kees den Heijer, Robbert Eggermont, Esther Plomp, Yasemin Turkyilmaz-van der Velden, Shalini Kurapati

The Data Stewardship project is a new initiative from the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) in the Netherlands. Its aim is to create mature working practices and policies regarding research data management across all TU Delft faculties.

The novelty of this project relies on having a dedicated person, the so-called ‘Data Steward’, embedded in each faculty to approach research data management from a more discipline-specific perspective. It is within this framework that a research data management survey was carried out at the faculties that had a Data Steward in place by July 2018.

The goal was to get an overview of the general data management practices, and use its results as a benchmark for the project. The total response rate was 11 to 37% depending on the faculty.

Overall, the results show similar trends in all faculties, and indicate lack of awareness regarding different data management topics such as automatic data backups, data ownership, relevance of data management plans, awareness of FAIR data principles and usage of research data repositories.

The results also show great interest towards data management, as more than ~80% of the respondents in each faculty claimed to be interested in data management training and wished to see the summary of survey results.

Thus, the survey helped identified the topics the Data Stewardship project is currently focusing on, by carrying out awareness campaigns and providing training at both university and faculty levels.

URL : On a Quest for Cultural Change – Surveying Research Data Management Practices at Delft University of Technology

Creating a Community of Data Champions

Authors : Rosie Higman, Marta Teperek, Danny Kingsley

Research Data Management (RDM) presents an unusual challenge for service providers in Higher Education. There is increased awareness of the need for training in this area but the nature of the discipline-specific practices involved make it difficult to provide training across a multi-disciplinary organisation.

Whilst most UK universities now have a research data team of some description, they are often small and rarely have the resources necessary to provide targeted training to the different disciplines and research career stages that they are increasingly expected to support.

This practice paper describes the approach taken at the University of Cambridge to address this problem by creating a community of Data Champions. This collaborative initiative, working with researchers to provide training and advocacy for good RDM practice, allows for more discipline-specific training to be given, researchers to be credited for their expertise and creates an opportunity for those interested in RDM to exchange knowledge with others.

The ‘community of practice’ model has been used in many sectors, including Higher Education, to facilitate collaboration across organisational units and this initiative will adopt some of the same principles to improve communication across a decentralised institution.

The Data Champions initiative at Cambridge was launched in September 2016 and this paper reports on the early months, plans for building the community in the future and the possible risks associated with this approach to providing RDM services.

URL : Creating a Community of Data Champions