Influencing European research data policies

Influencing European research data policies

Over the last decade, the availability and scale of scholarly digital products -such as datasets, algorithms, software and scholarly articles- has grown considerably. To meet the expectations of governments, funders and publishers, new mechanisms are needed to ensure greater transparency and reuse of research data, as well as greater access to and preservation of the data that supports research findings. New policies and practices are being discussed and developed at national and European levels.

This month, two important reports have been published by the European Commission (EC) to provide strategic orientation and concrete action for the new governance structure of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), an initiative to make research more efficient, reliable, collaborative and transparent, and in a trusted environment across technologies, disciplines and borders.

Turning FAIR into Reality (pictured below left), is one of the two reports that describes the broad range of changes required for the implementation of the FAIR data principles - making data Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable. An analysis of what is need to implement FAIR leads to twenty-seven concrete recommendations and actions for all stakeholders involved in the data life cycle, encompassing researchers, data steward, service providers, libraries, publishers, funders, standard bodies, policy makers and institutions.

In a section on registries, repositories, metrics and certification, which the report notes as being essential components of the FAIR ecosystems, FAIRsharing is listed as a key informative and educational resource interlinking community standards (such as metadata schemas, concepts and vocabularies) with to databases, repositories and data policies (by funders and policies). The FAIRsharing mission is to guide consumers to discover, select and use these resources with confidence, and producers to make their resource more discoverable, more widely adopted and cited.

Professor Susanna-Assunta Sansone, who is an author of the community-developed FAIR principles and the FAIRsharing principal investigator, says, “ We are delighted to see our work recommended at the highest levels, and impacting on the EC strategic implementation roadmap  to create a trusted environment for hosting and processing research data to support EU science in its global leading role. FAIRsharing is the result of a long research and development effort, done with and for a variety of stakeholders, to ensure greater transparency and reuse of research data, as well as greater access to and preservation of the data that supports research findings ”.

FAIRsharing operates under global initiatives, such as the Research Data Alliance, and has been already adopted by major publishers (eg, Springer Nature, Elsevier and Wiley), funders (eg, the USA National Institutes of Health and the UK Wellcome Trust), research and infrastructures programmes [see Sansone et al. FAIRsharing, a cohesive community approach to the growth in standards, repositories and policies . Nature Biotech (accepted), pre-print bioRxiv 245183; https://doi.org/10.1101/245183].

Our work is only just started. We will continue to influence data policies by leading and promoting guiding principles for scientific data management and stewardship to support UK and EU science in its global leading role ”.

Professor Sansone was also one of the experts contributing to the FAIR in Practice report by UK JISC, taking stock of how far FAIR principles are supporting open science, and to better understand how they play-out in the research community. The community-driven report also highlights FAIRsharing as a key resources.

Lately, she was also invited to the newly formed Data Working Group (WG) of the UK Research and Innovation body (UKRI). This formal expert WG has been invited to write a white paper that will underpin the UKRI Infrastructure Roadmap for research data out to 2030. This authoritative roadmap will be published in April 2019.