In mid-April, numerous representatives of the German Collaborative Research Centers and Custers of Excellence met for a two-day virtual workshop on the topic of “Data and software management in large research consortia”. Organized by Stuttgart University’s “Data-integrated Simulation Science” Cluster of Excellence in cooperation with the IntCDC Cluster of Excellence, the event drew considerable interest on both days with around 70 people taking part.
“The fact that one of our two Clusters of Excellence is hosting this workshop underlines the significance that the University of Stuttgart attaches to research data management. So it comes as no surprise that our researchers are involved in several National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI) consortia. And their interest in research data management cuts across all disciplines,” said Dr Simone Rehm, Vice Rector for Information Technology at the University of Stuttgart, as she welcomed the participants.
Increasingly, research data and software are required as part of publications such as journals and conference proceedings. At the same time, researchers are embracing open science and there is growing public interest in the data. In addition, research funding organizations are adjusting their requirements with regard to research data. The combined result of these developments is a need to define an operational implementation system and thus a clear strategy. Only through a shared understanding and explicit rules can a harmonized procedure for dealing with research data and software be established. Initiatives such as the NFDI (but also the research consortia themselves) have recognized this need and are in the process of creating the necessary positions and infrastructure. By means of networking and linking up activities, synergy effects can be achieved and all parties can learn from one another.
This is a view shared by Brit Redöhl, Programme Director for Research Centres at the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). She confirms that “in the future, much more weight will be attached to the topic of research data management in project proposals and networking and linked-up activities will play a role in that. The inclusion of clusters of excellence as partners in NFDI consortia is an important form of networking and one that is specifically intended by the DFG.”
This was why the workshop, which was intentionally designed to be strategic in nature, looked at current and future practice in research data management and research software development. It was divided into four sections on different topics, each of which began with an introductory presentation followed by discussion. The issues covered included the organizational units and positions established within the research consortia, training opportunities, DFG funding principles and offerings, incorporation of RDM into institutions’ structures and national and international networking. In addition, there were contributions from international researchers, among them Professor Reed Maxwell from Princeton, Professor Inge Jonassen from Bergen and Professor Karel Luyben, President of the European Science Cloud (EOSC) Association.
“Research today knows no borders. By embedding our data and software management activities in international initiatives, we can play an active role as international research consortia in the shaping of tomorrow’s global research landscape,” said Professor Bernd Flemisch, a member of the SimTech Research Data and Software Management Committee, explaining the relevance of international activities.
The research consortia recognize the importance of this subject and so the workshop participants decided to draw up a joint statement of commitment to state-of-the-art research data management in large consortia. Work on the document is underway, with all participating institutions involved.
“SimTech has provided a platform through which 57 Clusters of Excellence and several Collaborative Research Centers were able to engage in an initial dialog on research and software data management. The inclusion of international partners from Princeton, Bergen and Delft, emphasizes the growing importance of this topic worldwide. Research data and software management will shape the research agendas of the future. Through this workshop, SimTech has lent visibility to the significant potential for collaboration in this area between the large research consortia in Germany,” said SimTech’s Managing Director, Dr. Jenny Kopsch-Xhema, underlining what had made the workshop such a success.