‘Council for Scientific Information Infrastructures’ publishes recommendations on RDM structures and processes

Posted: July 19th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: German, Report, Research Data | Tags: , | Comments Off on ‘Council for Scientific Information Infrastructures’ publishes recommendations on RDM structures and processes

300_rfiiIn June, the German Council for Scientific Information Infrastructures (RfII) has published some recommendations on determinats of future research data management and the development of corresponding infrastructures.
Because I believe that these recommendations are also of broader interest to our readers, I would like to highlight some of recommendations of the report.

But first of a all,  some introductory words on the RfII: The German Council for Scientific Information Infrastructures was established in November 2014. The 24 members work in an honorary capacity and were appointed by the Joint Science Conference of the Federal States and the Federal Government of Germany for a service period of four years. The Rfll was tasked by Germany’s Joint Science Conference (GWK) with formulating broad-based recommendations for the science system in Germany as a whole.

Consequently, the recommendations presented in the report have ramifications for a variety of actors in the domains of politics and science. The Rfll is convinced that the adoption of new ways in dealing with research data as well as long-term preservation and accessibility will be a significant, common challenge for all actors in the years ahead.

The position paper describes current policies and practices for managing research data and discusses a number of conflicting priorities in science policy:
With regard to RDM in Germany, the RfII detected that there is an overall absence of coordination, and current efforts often take the form of parallel, project-based initiatives. Universal access to services for data management is lacking, as the key actors at present are individual institutions and organisations, and their efforts often suffer from limited financing and/or excessive niche focus.
In addition, the high staff turnover means that valuable know-how is frequently lost.
Furthermore, the range of services being provided is impaired by the absence of governance mechanisms which could impart greater strategic direction.

Based on the foregoing findings, the RfII has developed a series of recommendations:

  • With regard to funding policy, the RfII recommends implementing long-term funding mechanisms in line with the long-term nature of research data management. Policy- makers need to establish clear pathways for institutions and organizations to obtain the resources they require over the long term. Without tying up subsidies in a fixed manner, funding phases for RDM  infrastructures should be designed so that applicants have a clear understanding of their chances for securing long-term financing and the steps that are necessary to obtain it.The goal of funding policy should be to develop an ecosystem of sustainable infrastructures that provides researchers in Germany with universal and reliable access to data management
  • The RfII recommends the establishment of a National Research Data Infrastructure (NRDI), which will serve as the backbone for research data management in Germany. This NRDI should be implemented as a national collaborative network that grows over time and is composed of various specialized nodes. The establishment of such a network is recommended on a step-by-step basis, as this will ensure the overall management system remains flexible while also facilitating the productive integration of diverse resources.As a network-based, dynamic organizational structure, the NFDI will be composed of nodes of various sizes. Some of these nodes will take the form of broad-based “service centres”, while others will be specialized “centres of excellence” for specific subareas. These centres can be established within various existing organisations and institutions. The difficult issue of developing intelligent solutions for the long-term archiving/provisioning of research data will be among the areas addressed by the NRDI.
  • The current transition to digital processes means that nearly all of the “soft” factors for scientific activity are in a state of flux. The responsibilities that fall to researchers have to be recalibrated. The RfII thus makes various recommendations regarding data quality assurance, the adoption of a legal framework for data reuse (based on the Open Science model), and data privacy and protection. These recommendations aim to define the responsibilities borne by
    researchers and their organisations during all phases of the “data life cycle”.
    Accordingly, policy-makers and scientists need to understand and set forth good scientific practice for research in the digital age.Scientific organisations also have a clear role to play in this area: monitoring and evaluation systems should
    be designed to create incentives for good research data management while also engendering trust among researchers and the lay public. Good data management practices go hand in hand with research that is cutting edge and has a strong practical value for society as a whole.
  • The RfII additionally recommends that due attention be devoted at all levels to human resources development. Adequately qualified individuals are required in large numbers for data-intensive research and teaching. Accordingly, the RfII sees a pressing need to educate a new generation of highly capable researchers and specialist employees for new occupations in the area of data management. At the same time, new skills and greater awareness need to be promoted at management levels, as communication and process management are frequently decisive for solving infrastructure problems. Consequently, there is an urgent need to develop new occupational profiles and fields of study.
  • The RfII attaches particular importance to international collaboration, for the flow of digital information (like research) knows no borders. The RDM ecosystem in Germany will have to develop within a broader European and global context.
    This does not only mean competition, but more importantly active collaboration
    and mutual learning.
  • The RfII believes that considerable investments are required at various levels of the German scientific system
    in order to ensure its future efficacy.The scientific system will need to change in nearly all areas if research data and methods are to become truly digital in coming years. The need for change also applies to existing infrastructures, repositories, and archives, which need to reorient towards new tasks. At this current tipping point, the RfII calls upon decision-makers in the domains of science and policy to make vigorous efforts to facilitate the necessary transition phase. Also effective and rapid measures to overcome the current fragmentation of efforts in the area of research data management is needed.

The whole document contains 160 pages, but unfortunately only a short summary is available in English.



Cover graphic by Rat für Informationsinfrastrukturen (RfII), License: CC-BY-SA 4.0

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