Roadmap retrospective: 2016

be kind rewind2016 in review

The past year has been a wild ride, in more ways than one… Despite our respective political climates, UC3 and DCC remain enthusiastic about our partnership and the future of DMPs. Below is a brief retrospective about where we’ve been in 2016 and a roadmap (if you will…we also wish we’d chosen a different name for our joint project) for where we’re going in 2017. Jump to the end if you just want to know how to get involved with DMP events at the International Digital Curation Conference (IDCC 2017, 20–23 Feb in Edinburgh, register here).

In 2016 we consolidated our UC3-DCC project team, our plans for the merged platform (see the roadmap to MVP), and began testing a co-development process that will provide a framework for community contributions down the line. We’re plowing through the list of features and adding documentation to the GitHub repo—all are invited to join us at IDCC 2017 for presentations and demos of our progress to date (papers, slides, etc. will all be posted after the event). For those not attending IDCC, please let us know if you have ideas, questions, anything at all to contribute ahead of the event!

DMPs sans frontières

Now we’d like to take a minute and reflect on events of the past year, particularly in the realm of open data policies, and the implications for DMPs and data management writ large. The open scholarship revolution has progressed to a point where top-level policies mandate open access to the results of government-funded research, including research data, in the US, UK, and EU, with similar principles and policies gaining momentum in Australia, Canada, South Africa, and elsewhere. DMPs are the primary vehicle for complying with these policies, and because research is a global enterprise, awareness of DMPs has spread throughout the research community. Another encouraging development is the ubiquity of the term FAIR data (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable), which suggests that we’re all in agreement about what we’re trying to achieve.

On top of the accumulation of national data policies, 2016 ushered in a series of related developments in openness that contribute to the DMP conversation. To name a few:

  • More publishers articulated clear data policies, e.g., Springer Nature Research Data Policies apply to over 600 journals.
  • PLOS and Wiley now require an ORCID for all corresponding authors at the time of manuscript submission to promote discoverability and credit. Funders—e.g., Wellcome Trust, Swedish Research Council, and US Department of Transportation—are also getting on the ORCID bandwagon.
  • The Gates Foundation reinforced support for open access and open data by preventing funded researchers from publishing in journals that do not comply with its policy, which came into force at the beginning of 2017; this includes non-compliant high-impact journals such as Science, Nature, PNAS, and NEJM.
  • Researchers throughout the world continued to circumvent subscription access to scholarly literature by using Sci-Hub (Bohannon 2016).
  • Library consortia in Germany and Taiwan canceled (or threatened to cancel) subscriptions to Elsevier journals because of open-access related conflicts, and Peru canceled over a lack of government funding for expensive paid access (Schiermeier and Rodríguez Mega 2017).
  • Reproducibility continued to gain prominence, e.g., the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) Policy on Rigor and Reproducibility came into force for most NIH and AHRQ grant proposals received in 2016.
  • The Software Citation Principles (Smith et al. 2016) recognized software as an important product of modern research that needs to be managed alongside data and other outputs.

This flurry of open scholarship activity, both top-down and bottom-up, across all stakeholders continues to drive adoption of our services. DMPonline and the DMPTool were developed in 2011 to support open data policies in the UK and US, respectively, but today our organizations engage with users throughout the world. An upsurge in international users is evident from email addresses for new accounts and web analytics. In addition, local installations of our open source tools, as both national and institutional services, continue to multiply (see a complete list here).

Over the past year, the DMP community has validated our decision to consolidate our efforts by merging our technical platforms and coordinating outreach activities. The DMPRoadmap project feeds into a larger goal of harnessing the work of international DMP projects to benefit the entire community. We’re also engaged with some vibrant international working groups (e.g., Research Data Alliance Active DMPs, FORCE11 FAIR DMPs, Data Documentation Initiative DMP Metadata group) that have provided the opportunity to begin developing use cases for machine-actionable DMPs. So far the use cases encompass a controlled vocabulary for DMPs; integrations with other systems (e.g., Zenodo, Dataverse, Figshare, OSF, PURE, grant management systems, electronic lab notebooks); passing information to/from repositories; leveraging persistent identifiers (PIDs); and building APIs.

2017 things to come

This brings us to outlining plans for 2017 and charting a course for DMPs of the future. DCC will be running the new Roadmap code soon. And once we’ve added everything from the development roadmap, the DMPTool will announce our plans for migration. At IDCC we’ll kick off the conversation about bringing the many local installations of our tools along for the ride to actualize the vision of a core, international DMP infrastructure. A Canadian and a French team are our gracious guinea pigs for testing the draft external contributor guidelines.

IDCC DMP/BoF session

There will be plenty of opportunities to connect with us at IDCC. If you’re going to be at the main conference, we encourage you to attend our practice paper and/or join a DMP session we’ll be running in parallel with the BoFs on Wednesday afternoon, 22 Feb. The session will begin with a demo and update on DMPRoadmap; then we’ll break into two parallel tracks. One track will be for developers to learn more about recent data model changes and developer guidelines if they want to contribute to the code. The other track will be a buffet of DMP discussion groups. Given the overwhelming level of interest in the workshop (details below), one of these groups will cover machine-actionable DMPs. We’ll give a brief report on the workshop and invite others to feed into discussion. The other groups are likely to cover training/supporting DMPs, evaluation cribsheets for reviewing DMPs, or other topics per community requests. If there’s something you’d like to propose please let us know!

IDCC DMP utopia workshop

We’re also hosting a workshop on Monday, 20 Feb entitled “A postcard from the future: Tools and services from a perfect DMP world.” The focus will be on machine-actionable DMPs and how to integrate DMP tools into existing research workflows and services.

The program includes presentations, activities, and discussion to address questions such as:

  • Where and how do DMPs fit in the overall research lifecycle (i.e., beyond grant proposals)?
  • Which data could be fed automatically from other systems into DMPs (or vice versa)?
  • What information can be validated automatically?
  • Which systems/services should connect with DMP tools?
  • What are the priorities for integrations?

We’ve gathered an international cohort of diverse players in the DMP game—repository managers, data librarians, funders, researchers, developers, etc.—to continue developing machine-actionable use cases and craft a vision for a DMP utopia of the future. We apologize again that we weren’t able to accommodate everyone who wanted to participate in the workshop, but rest assured that we plan to share all of the outputs and will likely convene similar events in the future.

Keep a lookout for more detailed information about the workshop program in the coming weeks and feel free to continue providing input before, during, and afterward. This is absolutely a community-driven effort and we look forward to continuing our collaborations into the new year!

DMP themes: And then there were 14…

by Sarah Jones

We issued a call for input on the DMP themes in late September and received feedback from across the UK, Europe and the USA. Many thanks to all who responded. It’s really helped to confirm our thinking. (Note: the full list of Themes is here on GitHub)

We asked a few specific questions:

  • Whether ‘Existing Data’ should be a separate category?

This divided opinion. Some felt it should be a separate category as it comes with its own set of issues, while others commented that it’s not relevant for everybody and in some cases could be artificial to separate from the broader data description. We were persuaded by the arguments for merging because they’re consistent with the overall goals for themes (i.e., streamline guidance, avoid confusion).

  • Whether ‘Data Repository’ should be merged with ‘Preservation’?

There was a majority decision to keep these themes separate, partly as repositories are about more than just preservation, but also to ensure that repositories remain clearly visible in the guidance as this is a common topic for researchers’ questions. We also have a number of machine-actionable use cases tied to repositories so it helps to keep this category distinct.

  • Whether the various data sharing themes should be merged?

Again there was a clear consensus here that the themes should be merged. You felt itwas confusing for researchers to have too many separate options and it could make the guidance unwieldy. We now have one theme that covers how and when data will be shared, including guidance on managing any restrictions.

Other suggestions you made have caused us to merge ‘Data Security’ with ‘Storage and Backup’ and rename ‘Data Quality’ to ‘Data Collection’ so it covers broader concerns around data collection and organisation. There were a few requests to reinstate the ‘Project Description’ theme, but we felt this works better as metadata under the plan details rather than as a theme. As a final step, we significantly revised the guidance so this is more concise and directive too. Please take a look and let us know what you think!

We shared the new revised themes with the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) working group who we’ve been having calls with about standards for DMPs, and will push them out to other discussion lists soon. We will also implement the revised themes in the Roadmap platform in the new year.

Other news

We’ve been working on lots of other topics in the meantime too. The developers have been busy migrating the database to a new schema and doing some refactoring. These changes will improve the performance of the tool so you won’t get the long page loading times we’ve sometimes struggled with, and will also support scalability as we’re getting increasing levels of use from around the globe. We’ll be giving a demonstration of the new DMPRoadmap codebase at IDCC and walking people through recent changes and new features. The demo will be part of a session in the main programme that will provide an opportunity to talk with the developers, hear more about our future plans, and share ideas from your DMP work.

We are also coordinating a workshop on machine-actionable DMPs. There’s already been a lot of interest in this so we are running a waiting list. If you want to join us, please get in touch soon and let us know why you are interested and what inputs you could bring. We are trying to get a diverse audience in the room so we understand use cases from different perspectives and countries.

Roadmap team cheers

Both of our teams will be enjoying a well-earned break over the Christmas holidays. Most of us are away from next week until 9th January so it may take us longer to respond to any queries in the coming weeks. We hope you all have a wonderful break too and enjoy the festivities. We raise a glass to you and more collaboration on DMPs in the future. Cheers!

DMPTool: Fixed things and new things

Our development efforts are mostly trained on the new Roadmap platform—the next update is just on the horizon—however, there were a few DMPTool things that deserved attention this month.

Enhancements

  • Assign Roles: The functionality that allows institutional admins to grant admin privileges to others was not terribly user friendly and it had a bug that prevented searching by email address. So we fixed/enhanced it with the following tweaks. You can also consult the revised help documentation on the GitHub wiki for instructions, although we hope it’s intuitive enough not to require a manual now.
    • We moved the search box to the top, where admins can now search by first and/or last name.
    • Then you click the notepad icon next to the appropriate user’s name to “Edit User Role” and check/uncheck boxes to grant/remove roles; then save the changes and voilà!
    • Admins should now see a list of ALL users affiliated with their institution.

assign roles screenshot

  • Usage Stats: We implemented a *very* primitive metrics dashboard (screenshot below). Institutional admins will see a new tab called “Usage” under the Institution Profile menu. Use the date selector at the top to view basic monthly and cumulative usage stats for your institution and for global DMPTool usage. The idea is to present this as a starting point and collect your feedback to design a bigger, better, and much more beautiful metrics dashboard in the new platform. We already plan to provide visualizations (e.g., graphs of change over time) and export to CSV in the future. Please note that you can still retrieve usage data in JSON via the API (instructions here). For now we’re keen to know what numbers and features are most useful to you so please don’t hesitate to contact us by email or create a GitHub issue.

usage stats screenshot

Bug fixes

  • When users choose to create a new plan by copying an existing plan, they will no longer be able to start with plans that use “OBSOLETE” (outdated and inactive) templates. The plans created with these templates are still in the system, accessible to their owners, and visible in the Public DMPs list if set to public visibility; you just can’t use them as a starting point for creating a new plan. Obsolete templates exist for NSF-BIO, IMLS, and USGS; in consultation with funders, we’ve updated these templates as they revise their DMP requirements.
copy obsolete plan screenshot

Users are presented with this message if they try to copy a plan created with an obsolete/inactive template.

Finding our Roadmap rhythm

Image from page 293 of "The life of the Greeks and Romans" (1875) by Guhl, Koner, and Hueffer. Retrieved from the Internet Archive https://archive.org/details/lifeofgreeksroma00guhl

Image from page 293 of “The life of the Greeks and Romans” (1875) by Guhl, Koner, and Hueffer. Retrieved from the Internet Archive https://archive.org/details/lifeofgreeksroma00guhl

In keeping with our monthly updates about the merged Roadmap platform, here’s the short and the long of what we’ve been up to lately:

Short update

Long(er) update

This month our main focus has been getting into a steady 2-week sprint groove that you can track on our GitHub Projects board. DCC/DMPonline is keen to migrate to the new codebase asap so in preparation we’re revising the database schema and optimizing the code. This clean-up work not only makes things easier for our core development team, but will facilitate community development efforts down the line. It also addresses some scalability issues that we encountered during a week of heavy use on the hosted instance of the Finnish DMPTuuli (thanks for the lessons learned, Finland!). We’ve also been evaluating dependencies and fixing all the bugs introduced by the recent Rails and Bootstrap migrations.

Once things are in good working order, DMPonline will complete their migration and we’ll shift focus to adding new features from the MVP roadmap. DMPTool won’t migrate to the new system until we’ve added everything on the list and conducted testing with our institutional partners from the steering committee. The UX team from the CDL is helping us redesign some things, with particular attention to internationalization and improving accessibility for users with disabilities.

The rest of our activities revolve around gathering requirements and refining some use cases for machine-actionable DMPs. This runs the gamut from big-picture brainstorming to targeted work on features that we’ll implement in the new platform. The first step to achieving the latter involves a collaboration with Substance.io to implement a new text editor (Substance Forms). The new editor offers increased functionality, a framework for future work on machine-actionability, and delivers a better user experience throughout the platform. In addition, we’re refining the DMPonline themes (details here)—we’re still collecting feedback and are grateful to all those who have weighed in so far. Sarah and I will consolidate community input and share the new set of themes during the first meeting of a DDI working group to create a DMP vocabulary. We plan to coordinate our work on the themes with this parallel effort—more details as things get moving on that front in Nov.

Future brainstorming events include PIDapalooza—come to Iceland and share your ideas about persistent identifiers in DMPs!—and the International Digital Curation Conference (IDCC) 2017 for which registration is now open. We’ll be presenting a Roadmap update at IDCC along with a demo of the new system. In addition, we’re hosting an interactive workshop for developers et al. to help us envision (and plan for) a perfect DMP world with tools and services that support FAIR, machine-actionable DMPs (more details forthcoming).

Two final pieces of info: 1) We’re still seeking funding to speed up progress toward building machine-actionable DMP infrastructure; we weren’t successful with our Open Science Prize application but are hoping for better news on an IMLS preliminary proposal (both available here). 2) We’re also continuing to promote greater openness with DMPs; one approach involves expanding the RIO Journal Collection of exemplary plans. Check out the latest plan from Ethan White that also lives on GitHub and send us your thoughts on DMP workflows, publishing and sharing DMPs.

New template: DOD

As far as we can discern, DMPs are not yet a required component of Department of Defense (DOD) grant applications. But in an effort to address numerous user requests for a DOD template, we went ahead and created one based on the draft DOD Public Access Plan issued in Feb 2015, which states:

“This proposed plan is a draft at this point and has not been adopted as part of the DoD regulatory system or as a definitive course of action.”

The (draft) DOD requirements for DMPs are similar to those issued by NSF, NASA, and others so DMPTool users should note the resemblance among these templates. Another similarity is that the DOD plan focuses heavily on access to data underlying published articles. The plan mentions an implementation date at the end of FY 2016 — we will monitor the situation and update the template accordingly. This also presents an opportunity to monitor the new CENDI.gov inventory of public access plans.

Meanwhile, the DOD encourages pilot projects with voluntary submission of articles and data. The Defense Technical Information Center (DTIC) will be responsible for key elements of policy implementation and compliance monitoring (see their prototype DOD Public Access Search for articles that mention DOD funding).

Official news remains pending, but for now we’re happy to provide a draft DOD template for conscientious researchers. If anyone has experience with DOD programs asking for DMPs or related developments, please let us know!

A common set of themes for DMPs: Seeking input

When the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) revised DMPonline in 2013, we introduced the concept of themes to the tool. The themes represent the most common topics addressed in Data Management Plans (DMPs) and work like tags to associate questions and guidance. Questions within DMP templates can be tagged with one or more themes, and guidance can be written by theme to allow organisations to apply their advice over multiple templates at once. This means organisations don’t have to worry about monitoring changes in requirements and updating their guidelines each time a new template is released.

Backup and storage guidance with theme tag

Institutional guidance on ‘Storage and Backup,’ overlaid onto a funder template

Moving forward, we see potential for broader application of the themes. In collaboration with the DMPTool, we plan to use a refined set of themes to support our objectives around machine-actionable DMPs. The themes provide the beginnings of a common vocabulary and structure for DMPs and could help to identify sections of text to mine, e.g., to identify a repository named in a DMP and the volume of data in the pipeline.

Stephanie and I have revised the existing set of Data Management Planning themes and propose a shortened set of 17 themes. We merged several closely related themes, e.g., ‘Metadata’ and ‘Documentation.’ Now we’re keen to collect your feedback about whether the themes still cover all the required elements and if they make sense to users. The goal is to find a suitable balance between the total number of themes (for mining and for usability considerations when creating guidance) and granularity. Specific questions we have are:

  • Whether ‘Existing data’ should be a separate category? We’ve merged it with the general ‘Data description’ on the rationale that reusing data doesn’t apply in all domains.
  • Should the ‘Data repository’ theme be merged with ‘Preservation’ or is it better kept separate since repositories cover preservation and sharing?
  • Several themes address data sharing: one is generic (‘Data sharing’), one addresses the ‘Timeframe for sharing’ and one covers ‘Restricted-use data.’ Is this granularity needed or should some of these themes be merged, e.g., ‘Data sharing’ and ‘Restricted-use data.’

We’re reaching out to various groups on this: the Force 11 FAIR DMP group, the RDA Active DMPs group, CASRAI UK DMP working group, and the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) Active DMPs working group. Naturally we’re also consulting the DMPonline and DMPTool user groups and are keen to receive feedback from any other quarters too so please pass this notice on to colleagues! Comments can be left on the blog here or emailed to the DMPONLINE-USER-GROUP.

The original and revised sets of themes are below for reference:

 

New release: Privacy policy, plan visibility, and more…

We just released a batch of subtle changes designed to boost community insight into DMP behaviors. With DMPTool usage continuing to grow in leaps and bounds, we’re well embedded in burgeoning initiatives to build RDM programs, promote open scholarship, and reimagine DMPs as dynamic, updatable inventories of research activities. The tweaks and enhancements outlined below are about determining what we should be measuring and using this information to contribute to our collective data management efforts.

But before we get into the technical details, here’s a snapshot of DMPTool usage to date (a full report is next on the agenda). Our U.S.-centric user community is comparable in shape and size to that of DMPonline for the UK (plus Europe, Canada, and Australia), which reinforces our combined position as international DMP players.

  • Total n users = 20,390
  • Total n plans = 17,526 (13,612 excluding plans with “test” in the title)
  • Total n participating organizations = 194
    • 171 universities/institutions
    • 8 organizations, distributed or discipline-specific (e.g., DataONE, UCAR, WHOI)
    • 15 funders, some participating actively (e.g., template maintenance), others passively
  • Top 5 templates: NSF-SBE, NIH-GEN, NSF-GEN, NSF-ENG, NSF-BIO

Release Notes

  • Privacy Policy/Terms of Use. We updated our privacy policy and terms of use, rolling them into a single, easy-to-read-and-understand package (see Terms of Use). There were no changes to the policy itself; rather we wanted to make the terms transparent to users, bring our policy language in line with DMPonline, and lay a foundation for exposing more usage data to institutional admins. This also helps pave the way for machine-actionable DMPs—more on that subject in a forthcoming blog post.
  • Plan visibility settings. We made some related changes to revise language within the tool about plan visibility settings (screenshots below). Note that plans are no longer “private” by default. We’re now asking users to choose a visibility setting at the beginning of the plan creation process. In addition, they’ll be asked to confirm their choice at the end. This should reveal preferences about sharing plans, and *hopefully* we can encourage more users to open their plans up to “public” or “institutional” audiences. The Quick Start Guide and other portions of the Help menu have also been updated to reflect these changes.
  • Test plans. We added a “test or practice” option for plan visibility (screenshots below). This will enable us (and institutional partners) to filter test plans from usage statistics in addition to helping us curate the Public DMPs list.
  • Get a list of plans. We updated two API calls so authorized admins can retrieve information about ALL plans created by users from their institution (get a list of plans, and get a list of plans with all related attributes). Please note that admins will only be able to see private plans created after we implemented these changes. Admins can still get aggregated, anonymized usage info about total plans, templates used, etc. for all plans created at your institution since the beginning of DMPTool time (see the GitHub wiki for a complete list of API calls).

viz_buttons Tooltip for plan visibility options Confirm your DMP visibility choice message

As always, we’re eager to know what you think. Please send us your questions, comments, use cases for machine-actionable DMPs, etc!

New template: NIJ (DOJ)

The National Institute of Justice (NIJ) is the research, development, and evaluation agency of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). We created a template to assist NIJ funding applicants with preparing a Data Archiving Plan. This is essentially a 1–2 page DMP submitted with grant proposals: 1) to demonstrate your recognition that data sets resulting from your research must be submitted as grant products for archiving and have budgeted accordingly, and 2) to describe how the data will be prepared and documented to allow reproduction of the project’s findings as well as future research that can extend the scientific value of the original project. The policy also notes that “some amount of grant award funds is typically withheld for submission of research data along with the final report and other products/deliverables.”

In most cases, the NIJ requires grantees to deposit their data in the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), which is hosted by ICPSR. The template contains links to guidelines, best practices, FAQs, and other helpful information provided by the NACJD and ICPSR, including specific instructions pertaining to common types of social science data and software.

While the NIJ is not subject to the OSTP Memo, the requirement to submit a Data Archiving Plan has been in place since 2014. We finally added a template in response to a user request.

NASA template update & bug fix

NASA template

NASA logoLast week NASA launched a new Research Portal, with consolidated information regarding data management plans and publications. There are no changes to the DMP requirements as the public access plan remains the same. The big news concerns the creation of PubSpace, an open access article repository that is part of the NIH-managed PubMed Central. Beginning with 2016 awards, all NASA-funded authors and co-authors will be required to deposit copies of their peer-reviewed scientific publications and associated data into PubSpace.

Another new resource is the NASA Data Portal, which bears the following description:

“The NASA data catalog serves not as a repository of study data, but as a registry that has information describing the dataset (i.e., metadata) and information about where and how to access the data. The public has access to the catalog and associated data free of charge. NASA will continue to identify additional approaches involving public and private sector entities and will continue efforts to improve public access to research data. NASA will explore the development of a research data commons—a federated system of research databases—along with other departments and agencies for the storage, discoverability, and reuse of data, with a particular focus on making the data underlying the conclusions of federally funded peer-reviewed scientific research publications available for free at the time of publication.”

In response to the announcement, we’ve updated a few guidance links for the NASA template and reached out to the NASA Open Innovation Team—part of the office of the CIO— which appears to be in charge of these new initiatives.

Review workflow: Refinements and fixes

After releasing the review workflow enhancements, we encountered a bug that prevented the system from sending out an email notification if an institution did not create a customized message. Only one user was affected and we have since fixed the issue. We also added a grayed-out default message to the box on the Institution Profile page. We apologize if any emails went awry and invite you to test again and let us know if things are working as expected. You can also check out the updated documentation on the GitHub wiki.

Review workflow enhancements

We deployed some enhancements to the review workflow in response to feedback. With increasing use of this functionality, we appreciate you letting us know what works for you and what doesn’t. In the next version of the tool, we plan to dispense with the term “review” altogether and replace it with more informal language to avoid confusing researchers (e.g., “feedback” or “comments”). The following changes to the current tool should hopefully improve things for all users. And as always, we want to know what you think!

One more small thing to note: we updated the generic slide decks (PDF and Google doc) on the promotional materials page.

  • Replaced “Submit for Review” button with “Request Feedback” for templates enabled for Informal Review

request_feedback

  • Provided complete history of reviewed plans in admin dashboard. Admins and plan owners can add new comments to previously reviewed plans.

previously_reviewed

  • Added a field to the Institution Profile page where admins can customize the automated email message that users receive when they Request Feedback on a plan

feedback_email