SND’s network meeting on 3 October gathered 86 participants from around 30 of the network members. The theme for this meeting was the F and R in FAIR, meaning the efforts in making data Findable and Reusable. This topic was discussed in a panel session as well as in smaller groups. Before the discussions, the participants listened to a presentation from the keynote speaker: academic librarian Leif Longva from UiT, The Arctic University of Norway.
Norway has generally progressed further than Sweden in their work with open research data, and Leif Longva had been invited to present his experiences from developing and managing the research data function in UiT.
There has been a quick development of research data positions in UiT since the university initiated their work in 2013. In only three years, the UiT progressed from creating an institutional archive for linguistic data to launching the UiT Open Research Data, a repository for open research data. A university board decision gave the university a research data policy in 2017. In keeping with that policy, a research data management course soon became mandatory for PhD students, and the university also began to require data management plans for research projects on the PhD level. At the same time, they initiated the development of a local storage solution in UiT, and DataverseNO was launched as an alternative to a national search portal for Norwegian universities. The objective for 2020 is to develop an infrastructure that can manage all types of research data.
Today, eight Norwegian universities are connected to DataverseNO through partnership agreements. The agreement states that the universities are responsible for registering data in the search portal; they also become responsible for the quality of data and metadata, and for making sure that there are no restrictions on making the data accessible. According to figures from 25 September this year, DataverseNO lists 655 datasets with a total of 7,768 downloads. This is an indication, according to Leif Longva, that they have at least partly fulfilled the F in Fair: they are Findable.
Training and active research connections are changing the culture in UiT
Even though the organisational and technical conditions for making data accessible are in place, there is still much left to accomplish, especially in changing the attitude to open data and in creating data management routines. Leif Longva outlines how the UiT invests in data management training with thematic courses in documentation, storage, searches and citations, archiving, licensing, data management plans, etc. They also offer tailor-made courses for groups of researchers, project groups, and institutions. The UiT also actively strive to establish contacts with researchers. Every deposited dataset is seen as a possible point of contact with a researcher, and a chance to teach good routines in data management. Leif also mentions that they have a project to reach senior researchers in UiT, who have often amassed large amounts of valuable data over their long academic lives.
When Leif Longva is asked to summarise his experiences and give the network meeting participants some advice, he mentions organisation and culture. It is important that the entire university organisation are on board and are included in the work, and that open research data don’t become just a matter for the university library. Strong approval from the university board and cooperation with the university’s IT department help the process. At the same time, says Leif Longva, the matter of approval cannot be allowed to stand in the way of the development – they cannot wait for all details to fall into place. The work with open research data will take time; the important thing is to get started, and we will learn along the way.
Discussions about the F and R in FAIR
The rest of the day was dedicated to discussions about the FAIR theme from various viewpoints. SND’s Ulf Jakobsson gave an introduction to FAIR with focus on findability and reusability. Then followed a panel session about perspectives on F and R with Caspar Jordan (SND), Cecilia Björkdahl (KI), Jonas Fransson (Mau), Leif Longva (UiT), and Max Petzold (SND), chaired by Helena Rohdén, communications officer at SND. After the panel, the participants were divided into smaller groups to discuss the practical aspects of working with the F and R in FAIR. The day ended with some concluding remarks from Elisabeth Strandhagen and Helena Rohdén.