New countrywide RD-INF Project approved: Generic Research Data Infrastructure (GeRDI) ready to get off the starting blocks

Posted: July 21st, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: German, Projects, Research Data | Tags: , | Comments Off on New countrywide RD-INF Project approved: Generic Research Data Infrastructure (GeRDI) ready to get off the starting blocks

400_network_pavlina_rupovaIn my previous post, I presented some analyses and recommendations the RfII (German Council for Scientific Information Infrastructures) made for the future development and structuring of the German national landscape on research data management. For instance, the RfII found, 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.’

Currently, when scientists generate research data often the question arises where to store the data. Currently, only a handful of universities already have an appropriate infrastructure in place while for the big majority such a research data infrastructure is still missing.

Also from the perspective of a researcher who is looking for (reusing) data already available, the current state is unsatisfactory: The few research data infrastructures currently available at German universities, but also other research data centres from different subjects, are hardly linked with other data repositories and often remain data silos.

To solve these challenges, the RfII recommended to

‘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 NRDI 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.’

Now, ZBW has just published a press release, where some of these aspects have been taken up. ZBW announced that the countrywide project GeRDI (Generic Research Data Infrastructure) has been approved by the German Research Foundation (DFG). GeRDI aims to develop the necessary infrastructure technology and to create a virtual network of existing and future research data centres all over Germany (with a special focus on German universities). Therefore,  the project follows RfII’s vision for a future NRDI in many parts.

The project’s vision covers two aspects: First of all, researchers should have a ‘single point of access’ to look for research data available in different data repositories and data centres of the country. Second, scientists who generate research data (preferably from the ‘small sciences’) should have a place to store their datasets for future reuse.

GeRDI is also geared to the vision of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) and can also be a part of a German contribution to the EOSC. GeRDI pursues the idea of the European Open Science Cloud, supplementing current efforts to implement infrastructures for research data management and taking them a step further.

According to the press release, GeRDI is projected for two project phases: In a first phase, the German Research Foundation (DFG) funds GeRDI with 3 million Euros. Within this first phase, the (pilot-) core-infrastructure for GeRDI should be designed, implemented and evaluated. The pilot systems for GeRDI will be located in Dresden, Kiel and Munich and will store research data from such diverse disciplines as life sciences, marine sciences and economics. They will be linked in ways that allow the combination of research data within a discipline and across subjects. The locations represent three types of institutions: a university, a supercomputing centre and an extra-university research institution.

In the second phase of the project a countrywide roll out of the developed solution is intended.

Of the 3 million Euros for project phase 1, 1.6 million Euros have been allocated to the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics and the University of Kiel. The other partners are renowned institutions in computer science such as the German National Research and Education Network (DFN), the Leibniz Supercomputing Centre of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences and Humanities and the Center for Information Services and High Performance Computing at the Technical University of Dresden.


Picture: ‘Network‘ by Pavlína Rupová on License: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


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