A four country data management action plan

The report “A sufboard for riding the wave: towards a four country action programme on research data” was published recently by the Knowledge Exchange (KE) and builds of the “Riding the wave” report. The KE is formed by partners from Denmark, the Netherlands, Germany and the UK and aims to create a layer of openly available scholarly and scientific content in which research data plays a key role. The vision set out in the document is that of a collaborative infrastructure that supports seamless access, use, re-use and trust of data.

A surfboard for riding the waveIn order to achieve the vision four key drivers are identified: incentives, training, infrastructure and funding. These four elements are an excellent framework to analyse the RDM challenge as researchers are put at the core. It´s crucial to incentivize researchers to re-use and share data through recognition, and they need to be equipped with the data skills needed in their research domain.

Other stakeholders with prominent roles include libraries, scientific organizations, funders and journals. Libraries are positioning themselves through the emerging data libraries support services to help researchers access secondary datasets, and to manage and share primary data. This will result in libraries absorbing some of the costs. National and international scientific organizations should issue rules of scientific conduct specific to data to stimulate researchers. Funding agencies need to set data management requirements as part of grant applications. Editorial boards of journals have to press authors to provide access to replication data with the articles.

The report acknowledges the existence of a diverse data infrastructure with two levels: institutional and domain specific. Data management could initially be carried at the local level (researcher, institute) and the curation at higher levels (domain archives). In spite of this there are still many “orphaned datasets” without appropriate repositories and researchers´workflows tend not to be integrated with institutional services.

The action plan outlines a range of possible actions with long term objectives for making datasharing part of the academic culture and data logistics an integral component of scientific professional life, and for a sound infrastructure operationally and financially.

It´s remarkable to see such international collaborative effort in this field; this may help to avoid reinventing the wheel, and provide more coherent frameworks to address the data management challenge.

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