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!

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: