RECODE in Riga

The 4th RECODE workshop took place on the first of July in the beautiful new National Library in Riga, Latvia. The workshop brought together an international group of people interested in addressing the issues that institutions face in making open access to research data possible. During the workshop, we presented the results of our research on these issues. We discussed our findings with a very international group of participants from various different backgrounds, which made for lively and inspiring discussions. In particular we focused on four key institutional challenges: funding open access to research data, maintaining and evaluating the quality and integrity of data, educating and training researchers and other relevant stakeholders, and creating awareness.

As a warm up for the later, more interactive, parts of the program, Wolfram Horstman, director of Göttingen State and University Library, presented some of the insights from the League of European Research Universities’ (LERU) Roadmap for Research Data that he co-authored. After that Robin Rice who is Data Librarian at the University of Edinburg shared with us her experiences with implementing the Edinburgh policy on data management, focusing in particular on engaging researchers in research data management planning. Edinburgh University was one of the first in the UK to have a data management policy.

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After the coffee break, the more interactive part of the day started with a panel discussion, chaired by Sally Wyatt, about the four institutional challenges. Robin Rice and Wolfram Horstman joined Roger Jones, Max Wilkinson and Catherine Dolderina on the panel. Roger Jones as Head of the Particle Space and Accelerator Division at Lancaster University and active member of some of the largest experiments at the Large Hadron Collider provide a perspective on open research data from the particle physics community and in particular from the large collaborative experiments that he has been a part of. Although a lot of data sharing takes places within these experiments, the way that the experiments are set up and the sheer volume of data produced make it difficult to provide open access to all research data. Prof. Jones argued that more thought should go in to what is useful to store and share. Max Wilkinson joined the panel to offer his viewpoint based on his experience with the new data management policy at the University College London, where he is currently Head of Research Data Services. The new policy states that research data should be open by default. It also outlines clear responsibilities for researchers and the various divisions with the University, which Max Wilkinson considered to be a key part of the policy. Finally, the last panel member was Catherine Dolderina who is a researcher at the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission (Italy), focusing on policies and regulations regarding access to and use of geographic and Earth observation data. At the JRC they have been developing a data management policy and she addressed several issues that they have run into while trying to draft a policy for a wide variety of research groups. Central themes in the discussion was the difficulty in estimating the costs involved in open access to research data for institutions and the unclear distribution of responsibility across the various institutions.

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After lunch, I presented the preliminary results of the research we have been doing is the last year. We then invited the participants to share their thoughts and feedback on the report during two brainstorms sessions.
We divided the participants into four groups to discuss the four different challenges. The first brainstorm session was devoted to exploring solutions and recommendation to address the challenge. During the second brainstorm we encouraged the participants to discuss which institutions should be responsible for what, given a particular solution. We concluded the day with a reporting-back session and a quick overview of the next steps in the RECODE project.

We received very useful feedback and comments from the participants that we have incorporated in the final report for this part of the RECODE project. It was good to see that a lot of what we had found during our research was validated by the experiences of the participants. It proved a bit harder to formulate explicit recommendations, but there were a few issues that everyone seemed to agree upon. For example, there seemed to be a general agreement that institutions should work on getting more insight into the costs involved. All in all, the discussions during the brainstorm, together with the feedback on the report that we received, provided considerable inspiration to further fine tune the report and our recommendations.

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In the meantime we finished and submitted the report and it is now available here: http://recodeproject.eu/research/.
On September 25, 2014, RECODE will host its fifth workshop Policy guidelines for open access and data preservation and dissemination workshop here in Amsterdam. You can find more details on the workshop here.
To stay up to date you can also follow the RECODE project on twitter (@RECODE_Project).