Exploring a subject-oriented approach to Open Science

Wed, 13/11/2019 - 13:09 -- euroCRIS Secret...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Pablo de Castro,  https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6300-1033                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We are delighted to be able to welcome the BE OPEN project to our forthcoming Nov 18-20 euroCRIS strategic membership meeting in Münster. Today we received a confirmation that Kristel Palts from the German Aerospace Center DLR will deliver a project talk for this European forum and oBsErvatory for OPEN science in transport.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     
This BE OPEN talk will be placed in a session on Wed Nov 20th devoted to ‘subject based research information management systems’. It may be a little early yet to speak about subject-based CRISs, as there’s none of them running in a fully operational mode yet, but it’s definitely a good opportunity to discuss the challenges they face and the opportunities they offer. In this session, together with this disciplinary initiative to implement Open Science in the (very wide) domain of Transport, we will also have a presentation addressing the WheatVIVO initiative, an equally ambitious attempt to map the worldwide research activity taking place in the area of wheat.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It is not difficult to see an emerging trend to approach Open Science implementation as a subject-specific endeavour. This makes total sense conceptually given the significant differences in the implications of Open Science across disciplines. In fact what one finds most surprising is that it has taken us so long to get there (or, to be more precise, to try to get there). Initiatives like the BE OPEN project activity held in Dublin a few weeks ago at the ETC2019 Conference on Transport feel like exactly the way to go – that is, bringing Open Science to researchers wherever they happen to meet.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      It is difficult however to catch their attention among so many attractions – an event like ETC2019 is like a sweet shop for a researcher in the domain, and a discussion on research datasets is probably not the sweetest delicacy around – but this was just a first experience anyway. It’s not hard to tell that things will get better in time as the project consolidates.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      In the meantime, we have all these Open Science advocates working very hard at the coalface in their institutions trying to persuade ‘their’ researchers that research data management and sharing is the right way to go – including those working in the area of Transport wherever the institution is active in the field.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So the rationale for having invited BE OPEN to be in Münster for a discussion with the (mostly institutional) research administrators is to explore whether there could be mechanisms to share the burden of the advocacy. Every institutional Open Science advocate knows how hard is to directly try and persuade researchers to do the right thing with their research data, even within an institution supported by the right funder policies. From this perspective, trying to do this as an outsider sounds like mission impossible.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      However, there could perhaps be opportunities for teaming up for the purpose, i.e. for the BE OPEN project to re-use and build on top of all the work that is being carried out at the coalface at practically every research-performing institution in Europe. The way to do this is precisely what we would like to have the chance to discuss in Münster, because it’s highly technical and related to the long effort euroCRIS has been putting in to make institutional research information management systems more interoperable with each other and with external stakeholders like OpenAIRE.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      These systems contain a lot of very valuable research information – not just research datasets themselves, but a dense network of links between persons, organisations, funded projects, publications, datasets, other outputs (patents) and research equipment and facilities.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      If it were feasible to have the input from this dense institutional network exposed, aggregated and merged, we could be on our way to building a large disciplinary research graph. The time may be ripe for this – exposing, aggregating and merging is exactly what the OpenAIRE project is currently doing (in collaboration with euroCRIS in the area of research information management systems) and research graphs is precisely the topic my colleague Jan Dvořák has addressed in his recent blogpost. We haven’t yet got as far as addressing all the CERIF entities mentioned above, but this again will be a question of time.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Unless of course we somehow decide as a community that it’s better not to do it. It sometimes feels like we (as a community) never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. This approach involves potential data protection issues that need to be carefully discussed, and various private companies thirsty for the public data will be in the room. But this is our public data, the knowledge commons we are trying to protect, curate and make public for the public good.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We’re in for a fascinating discussion. My only regret as the chef behind the menu that will be served in Münster is that this particular delicacy will arrive towards the end of the feast at a time when many of the most expert, most insightful gourmets may already have left the meeting. But it should still be good fun.