As the amount of data being created continues to spiral upwards, the need to access, analyse and manage it is having a huge impact everywhere, including the global research community.
Having open and transparent access to data requires well defined guidelines of how the information is stored and communicated — which is how the FAIR data principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) came into play.
The Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) is helping lead the way to champion the importance of FAIR data and encourage its application around the world. Natasha Simons, Associate Director, Data & Services at ARDC, has played a key role in this process.
Since 2017 Natasha has been working with FORCE11 Scholarly Communications Institute (FSCI), a key driver of the global FAIR data campaign, to build the capacity of FAIR data with researchers. This has included being the lead instructor of FSCI’s FAIR Data in the Scholarly Communications Lifecycle course at its annual plenary.
Organised by FORCE11 in collaboration with the University of California Library, FSCI assembles researchers, scholars, librarians, publishers, funders and research administrators to explore new developments in open science, knowledge creation and communication. Its 2020 annual plenary, which is usually an in-person event in California, was delivered entirely online with a central theme of defining, understanding and teaching best approaches to implementing the FAIR data principles to maximise the management and open communication of research data.
This year Natasha delivered the FAIR Data course with co-instructors Chris Erdmann, Renaissance Computing Institute, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and Daniel Bangert, University of Gottingen and RDA Europe.
The plenary’s virtual format greatly expanded the range and number of delegates and, unsurprisingly, the course attracted more attendees than in previous years.
“My class size doubled,” Natasha said. “It was also more globally representative than previous years with 13 countries represented.”
“The wide range of backgrounds and knowledge provided more challenges, including a few 1am starts for me!” Natasha said “But it was all worthwhile”.
The online format and rolling scheduling provided some new twists to presentations, including Natasha’s custom-designed course structure which always includes engaging activities and fun exercises.
In addition to delivering the FAIR Data course Natasha coordinated FSCI’s midpoint plenary, The Past, Present and Future of FAIR Data with Prof Cameron Neylon from the FSCI executive. Due to COVID-19, the entire plenary was run online, which provided new opportunities and new challenges for all involved. It was conducted in an innovative, rolling format over a 24-hour period, enabling an array of fantastic speakers from different countries and easier participation by people in different time zones.
Natasha’s course received glowing reviews from participants and the midpoint plenary was also very successful.
Subsequently, the FSCI organisers noted the ARDC’s contribution in an email to the ARDC.
“Marty Brennan and I wanted to impart our gratitude for the steady support ARDC has given to the FORCE11 Scholarly Communications Institute (FSCI) through Natasha Simons’ involvement,” Cameron Neylon and Martin Brennan wrote, on behalf of the FSCI executive group.
“From the beginning of FSCI, Natasha’s contribution has been important in setting the standards of instruction. The profile of ARDC and Natasha as internationally recognised experts on FAIR Data has been an important part of positioning FSCI as part of FORCE11’s continuing work.”