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!

NIH Policy on Rigor and Reproducibility

You’ve all heard about the reproducibility crisis in science. But you may not be aware of a (relatively) new National Institutes of Health (NIH) policy designed to address the issue. The NIH Policy on Rigor and Reproducibility became effective for proposals received on or after January 25, 2016 and applies to most NIH and Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) grant applications. We just learned about the policy ourselves thanks to the combined efforts of UCSD library and research staff to raise awareness on their campus (and here’s a noteworthy mention in a Nature review of 2015 science news). To aid researchers in meeting the new criteria, UCSD produced this handy guide that we (and they) would like to share with the wider community.

The new policy does not involve any changes to data sharing plans. It is related and important enough, however, that we inserted a statement and link in the “NIH-GEN: Generic” template (Please note the Rigor and Reproducibility requirements that involve updates to grant application instructions and review criteria [but not Data Sharing Plans]).

The policy does involve:

  • Revisions to application guide instructions for preparing your research strategy attachment
  • Use of a new “Authentication of Key Biological and/or Chemical Resources” attachment (example from UCSD library website)
  • Additional rigor and transparency questions reviewers will be asked to consider when reviewing applications

These policies are all meant to achieve basically the same goals: to promote openness, transparency, reproducibility, access to, and reuse of the results of scientific research. We’re grateful to the folks at UCSD—Dr. Anita Bandrowski, Ho Jung Yoo, and Reid Otsuji—for helping to consolidate the message and for providing some new educational resources.

Roadmaps galore

Data management planning is moving and shaking at all scales—local, national, international—these days. We had excellent conversations at IDCC about coordinating responses to proliferating data policies and sharing experiences across borders and disciplines. All of the slides and materials from the international DMP workshop are available here.

So far the community has responded positively to our proposal for building a global infrastructure for all things DMP. Our big-picture plans include a merged platform based on the DMPonline codebase and incorporating recent internationalization work by the Portage Network in Canada (check out their bilingual DMP Assistant). We’re completing a gap analysis to add existing functionality from the DMPTool to DMPonline and will issue a joint roadmap in the coming months. Drawing together these disparate development efforts also presents an opportunity to set best practices for future work (stay tuned). This will allow us to consolidate value upstream and ensure maximum benefits to the entire community.

To facilitate our capacity-building efforts, we submitted a proposal entitled (what else) “Roadmap” to the Open Science Prize. You can read the Executive Summary on their website here and peruse the full proposal here (also view our snazzy promo video below). The prize seemed like the perfect opportunity to reposition DMPs as living documents using the biomedical research community as a pilot group. We’ll know by the end of April whether our bid is successful. Regardless of the outcome, we would love to know what you think about the proposal.

And finally, an update on the near-future roadmap for the DMPTool. We just added some new API calls in response to requests for more usage statistics and to facilitate integration projects with other data management systems. Admins can now get info about templates used to create plans at their institution (including private plans!) and a list of institutional templates. Check out the updated documentation on the GitHub wiki. The next order of business is working through the backlog of bug fixes. You can follow our progress in the GitHub issue tracker. Once the bugs are eliminated, we’ll circle back to high priority feature enhancements that contribute to our long-range plans.

DMPs are going global

…well international at least, with global aspirations. The US-based DMPTool and UK-based DMPonline have collaborated from the beginning to provide data management planning services and training on our respective sides of the pond. As more and more funders, institutions, and nations—the entire EU, for instance—adopt data sharing policies, we find ourselves supporting data management planning initiatives farther and wider.

To meet the exploding demand and facilitate connecting the dots (e.g., promoting community standards for DMPs), we’ve decided to formalize our partnership and move toward a single platform for all things DMP. You can learn more about our evolving partnership in this joint paper that we’ll be presenting at the International Digital Curation Conference (IDCC) at the end of Feb. Stay tuned for updates about a joint roadmap and timeline in the coming months. Our individual roadmaps will remain in place for now.

As always, we invite your feedback! And if you happen to be attending IDCC, consider joining us and the DART Project for an international DMP workshop on Thurs, Feb 25 (registration info).


NASA’s Global Digital Selfie 2014

Hang A DMPTool Poster!

In addition to working hard on the new version of the DMPTool (to be released in May), we are also working on outreach and education materials that promote the use of the DMPTool. Our latest addition to these materials is a generic poster about the DMPTool, including information about what’s to come in the new version. You can download a PDF version, or a PPTX version that you can customize for your institution. We plan on updating this poster when the new version of the DMPTool is released, so keep an eye out!

“DMPTool: Expert Resources & Support for Data Management Planning”. 30″x38″ poster

Posters available as:

  • PDF (cannot be customized)
  • PPTX (can be customized)

Report on DMPTool at ESA 2013

Last week in Minneapolis, about 4,000 ecologists got together to geek out and enjoy the midwest for eight days. The DMPTool had a couple of appearances in the course of this 2013 Ecological Society of America Meeting– a workshop on managing ecological data and a session on data management planning and the DMPTool. It was also mentioned in numerous presentations about the DataONE Investigator Toolkit, of which the DMPTool is a part.

Here I want to briefly mention the special session on the DMPTool, which occurred on the first official day of #ESA2013. The session was 75 minutes long, and Bill Michener of DataONE and I were sharing the podium. He planned to introduce DMPs generally, followed by my explanation and demonstration of the DMPTool, including the new version of the tool due out in Winter 2013-2014.

Fifteen minutes before the presentations were due to start, the room was packed. Attendees were sitting on the floor in the aisles by 5 minutes before, and there was a nonstop trickle of attendees entering throughout the 75 minute session. The catch? We had no power.

That’s right: Bill and I were forced to talk about data management plans, demo the DMPTool, and discuss future plans to a packed room, all without a microphone, a projector, or even a chalk board. We managed to get through the session, and folks seemed to appreciate the impromptu soliloquies on data management by myself and Bill. The power came on about 5 minutes before the close of the session (of course), at which point I scurried behind the podium to show screen shots of the DMPTool. By the time I looked up from my laptop, about 60% of the audience had left. Apparently slides were not the big draw for our session.

My takeaway lessons? When giving a talk, be prepared for anything; people enjoy the element of surprise and improvisation; and researchers are dying to learn about DMPs, regardless of the potential hurdles put before them. This is most likely due to funder requirements for DMPs, but I’d like to think it also relates to my and Bill’s dulcet tones.

The slides I didn’t get to show are available on slideshare.


Library Outreach: Call for DMPTool Guides

Hello, everyone! My name is Dan Phipps. I’m coming to the DMPTool project from UCLA’s Graduate School of Education and Information Studies. My academic focus has been on informatics, especially the preservation and curation of disaster data. Aside from digitizing maps for the UCLA Digital Libraries project, I’ve also worked at the UCLA Social Science Data Archive to help researchers better archive their data.

I’m working with California Digital Libraries as part of the IMLS funded Librarian Outreach project. Our focus is going to be specific to librarians and the role they play in the development of data management plans. While this is a relatively new hat for some librarians to wear, there is already a lot of resources from data archivists, repository institutions, grant departments and other librarians. We’re hoping to use the DMPTool as both a data management resource as well as a hub for information specialists to find useful materials.

The management of data is a major undertaking for any institution, and involves support everywhere from IT departments to individual researchers to granting offices and beyond. Librarians, by training, are uniquely suited to work within this environment – it is a field that has been focused on providing people with knowledge and support for centuries. Data management and preservation is a relatively new area of focus, but one which will be more and more important in the coming years.

One of the major goals of the Libraries Outreach project is to provide librarians with easy access to educational materials. Over the next few weeks we’ll be highlighting Libguides, wikis, webpages, and other useful online resources that have made using or teaching the DMPTool easier. If there are any references you find particularly useful, please email me your suggestions.

-Dan Phipps

Kickoff Meetings for Newly Funded DMPTool Projects


The meetings were held in Downtown Berkeley, near Durant Ave. This image of the area was taken in 1978. From Calisphere, contributed by Berkeley Public Library and Betty Marvin. Click for more information.

Two weeks ago, a meeting of the data management minds took place in Berkeley, California. There were two back-to-back meetings to kick off projects funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (read the blog post about it) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Here we provide a report of each meeting.

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Project: “DMPTool2: Responding to the Community”

The primary goal of this project is to improve on the DMPTool (free, easy-to-use application that guides researchers through the process of creating data management plans). To accomplish this, we aim to build on the success of the tool to create DMPTool2, and use this improved version as a centerpiece for encouraging collaboration in data management efforts across all stakeholder groups (researchers, institutions, funders, libraries).  In support of the project goals, we convened a meeting of DMPTool partners to synchronize the project kickoff efforts and revisit our planned activities.  The meeting aimed to review:

  • Current DMPTool status
  • Community engagement plans
  • Functional development plans
  • Metrics for impact and success

Meeting participants were mainly from founding DMPTool institutions.  Over the course of the 1.5 day meeting, participants reviewed the course of the DMPTool thus far, the expectations and plans for the project, and then specific activities for the next 12 or so months.  Some highlights include:

  • Observations that the DMPTool has had significant use, but should to put increased emphasis on gaining repeat users and providing more value to users.  Underlying this point, while the team aims to address user needs and demands, it is important to still stress that the goal should be making data management planning EASIER, rather than just EASY.  Research data lives in a complex environment and this must not be underestimated.
  • Community engagement in coming months will be on many fronts.  Some include development of two advisory boards, one focused on administrative users and one on researchers.  The team will also implement the planned governance structure to give the user community greater access to and participation in future directions and ownership of the DMPTool; this will be in the very near term.
  • Functionality for this project ranges far and wide, but fits into two main broad categories:  functions for the researcher (ie. Writing plans, finding resources, getting advice, etc.) and functions for the administrative user (ie. Reporting on institutional use, adding institutional guidance, etc.).  The team will offer blog posts on specific technical elements, request feedback, and conduct user testing as the project moves along.  Expect first posts in coming weeks.
  • The last discussion of the meeting was around metrics for impact and success, what’s possible, what’s easy versus hard, and what matters to our different constituents.  We have many ideas in this area, and will have blog posts to outline some of these points and request feedback in coming weeks.

IMLS Grant Project: “Improving Data Stewardship with the DMPTool: Empowering Libraries to Seize Data Management Education”

The meeting funded by the IMLS grant took place over February 21-22. The primary goal of this project is to provide librarians with the tools and resources to claim the data management education space. In an effort to ensure the tools and resources developed meet the needs of librarians, we convened a meeting of DMPTool partners, as well as librarians from five University of California campuses. We had three goals for the meeting:

  1. Identify the resources most useful for helping librarians use the DMPTool for outreach.
  2. Prioritize resources based on user profiles and use cases.
  3. Create timelines and brainstorm dissemination tactics for resources to be developed.

Participants were primarily librarians, along with members of the DMPTool partner institutions. Over the course of the two day meeting, we discussed the barriers and solutions associated with using the DMPTool as a librarian, especially for outreach. Common themes emerged related to a lack of support and education, as well as limited resources including time, money, personnel, and institution-level services.  Poor communication among institutional partners and stakeholders was also often mentioned. The solutions proposed to eliminate these barriers became the template for potential products from the IMLS grant. Here we present a list of proposed outcomes and tasks for the project, i.e. things that will help librarians use the DMPTool effectively on their campuses:

  1. Checklist/talking points documents & brown bag kit for librarians to talk to campus partners and stakeholders, including researchers, VCRs, Special Projects/Grants offices,  IT, and other librarians
  2. Slide deck for presenting to researchers
  3. Promotional materials (posters, pamphlets, bookmarks, postcards, flyers) that can be customized for the institution
  4. Startup Kit for undergoing an environmental scan of institutional resources and services
  5. DMPTool Webinar Series for librarians
  6. DMPTool Screencasts for users, librarians
  7. A collection of case studies of institutions using the DMPTool successfully
  8. A collection data management success and horror stories
  9. A calendar of funder deadlines
  10. DMPTool Libguide

A larger outcome of the IMLS grant will be that we plan to set up an online common space that allows for sharing customization of tool, provides a forum for user conversation streams, provides access to materials developed by the grant project, and can be used as a platform for collecting use cases, success and horror stories. The list above is only a subset of the long list of suggestions that emerged from our meeting. Stay tuned into this blog for more updates as the project progresses.

Download the full IMLS meeting report