Sharing biodiversity data: Best tools and practices via the EU-funded project EU BON

Due to the exponential growth of biodiversity information in recent years, the questions of how to mobilize such vast amounts of data has become more tangible than ever. Best practices for data sharing, data publishing, and involvement of scientific and citizen communities in data generation are the main topic of a recent report by the EU FP7 project Building the European Biodiversity Observation Network (EU BON), published in the innovative Research Ideas & Outcomes (RIO) journal.

The report “Data sharing tools for Biodiversity Observation Networks” provides conceptual and practical advice for implementation of the available data sharing and data publishing tools. A detailed description of tools, their pros and cons, is followed by recommendations on their deployment and enhancement to guide biodiversity data managers in their choices.

“We believe publishing this report in RIO makes a lot of sense given the journal’s innovative concept of publishing unconventional research outcomes such as project reports. This feature provides projects like EU BON with the chance to showcase their results effectively and timely. The report provides a useful practical guide for biodiversity data managers and RIO gives the project an opportunity to share findings with anyone who will make use of such information”, explains Prof. Lyubomir Penev, Managing Director of Pensoft and partner in EU BON.

The new report is the second EU BON contribution featured in a dedicated project outcomes collection in RIO. Together with the data policy recommendations it provides a comprehensive set of resources for the use of biodiversity data managers and users.

“We did our biodiversity data sharing tools comparison from the perspective of the needs of the biodiversity observation community with an eye on the development of a unified user interface to this data – the European Biodiversity Portal (EBP)”, add the authors.

The scientists have identified two main challenges standing in front of the biodiversity data community. On the one hand, there is a variety of tools but none can as stand alone, satisfy all the requirements of the wide variety of data providers. On the other hand, gaps in data coverage and quality demand more effort in data mobilization.

Envisaged information flows between EU BON and LTER Europe, showing the complexity of sharing biodiversity data (from the 3rd EU BON Stakeholder Roundtable, Granada on 9-11 December 2015).
Envisaged information flows between EU BON and LTER Europe, showing the complexity of sharing biodiversity data (from the 3rd EU BON Stakeholder Roundtable, Granada on 9-11 December 2015).

“For the time being a combination of tools combined in a new work-flow, makes the most sense for EU BON to mobilize biodiversity data,” comment the report authors on their findings. “There is more research to be done and tools to be developed, but for the future there is one firm conclusion and it is that the choice of tools should be defined by the needs of those observing biodiversity – the end user community in the broadest sense – from volunteer scientists to decision makers.”

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Original Source:

Smirnova L, Mergen P, Groom Q, De Wever A, Penev L, Stoev P, Pe’er I, Runnel V, Camacho A, Vincent T, Agosti D, Arvanitidis C, Bonet F, Saarenmaa H (2016) Data sharing tools adopted by the European Biodiversity Observation Network Project. Research Ideas and Outcomes 2: e9390. doi: 10.3897/rio.2.e9390

 

About EU BON:

EU BON stands for “Building the European Biodiversity Observation Network” and is a European research project, financed by the 7th EU framework programme for research and development (FP7). EU BON seeks ways to better integrate biodiversity information and implement into policy and decision-making of biodiversity monitoring and management in the EU.

 

 

50th publication in RIO Journal: Report of the first FORCE11 Scholarly Commons workshop

What if scholars, librarians, archivists, publishers and funders could restart scholarly communication all over? This was the slogan of the first FORCE11 Scholarly Commons Working Group (SCWG) workshop, which took place in February. Advocating for an open, sustainable, fair and creditable future that is technology- and business-enabled, not -led, FORCE11’s SCWG committee published a Workshop Report in the open access journal Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO), becoming the anniversary 50th publication in the innovative research publishing platform.

The community of FORCE11, comprising scholars, librarians, archivists, publishers and research funders from around the globe, was born at the FORC Workshop held in Dagstuhl, Germany in August 2011. Ever since, the community have been working and striving together towards a change in modern scholarly communication through the effective use of information technology. Their aim has always been to facilitate the change to improved knowledge creation and sharing.

In 2016, the Scholarly Commons Working group within FORCE11 conducts two workshops in order to find the answers to the question how scholarly communication would have looked now, had it not been for the 350 years of traditional practices. They also focus on the implications of modern technology and modes of communications that could help bring the right change about.

“Too often, scholars are unaware of the origins of current practices and accept the status quo because ‘that’s how it’s done’,” the authors point out. “But what if we could start over? What if we had computers, Internet, search engines and social media, but no legacy of journals, articles, books, review systems etc.?”

The first workshop, held between 25th and 27th February in Madrid, Spain, was titled “What if we could start over?”. The second one is planned for later this year under the slogan “Putting the pieces together.”

During the three-day workshop, the fifty participants, representing experts, early career researchers and new voices from across disciplines and countries, engaged in various activities. In order to”diverge and then converge”, the participants were encouraged through a number of enjoyable tasks to freely think outside the box, assuming that the current system of scholarly communication, based on a paper-based reward system, never existed.116566

“Given today’s technology and the amount of money currently in the system, how would you design a system of scholarly communications (“The Scholarly Commons”), the goal of which is to maximize the accessibility and impact of scholarly works,” they were asked. “By putting us in an alternate reality with a clear charge, we sidestepped issues that often engulf such discussions: why do we publish and who do we publish for.”

At the end of the workshop, the group’s principles were ordered under five subheadings, namely:

  • Open and sustainable
  • Fair
  • Credit for all endeavors
  • Technology- and business-enabled, not -led
  • Governance and funding

The attendees’ ideas, visions and suggested principles were also captured in a live and interactive visualization, consisting of the participants’ virtual post-it notes, also available through Trello.

In the spirit of the workshop itself, the report is now formally published in the form of a new scholarly communication artifact. Workshop Report is only one of the various innovative research publication types, provided by the open access journal Research Ideas and Outcomes(RIO), whose aim is to acknowledge and disseminate all quality and valuable research outputs from across all stages of the research cycle.

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Original source:

Kramer B, Bosman J, Ignac M, Kral C, Kalleinen T, Koskinen P, Bruno I, Buckland A, Callaghan S, Champieux R, Chapman C, Hagstrom S, Martone M, Murphy F, O’Donnell D (2016) Defining the Scholarly Commons – Reimagining Research Communication. Report of Force11 SCWG Workshop, Madrid, Spain, February 25-27, 2016. Research Ideas and Outcomes 2: e9340. doi: 10.3897/rio.2.e9340

Open-source collaborative platform to collect content from over 350 institutions’ archives

With the technical and financial capacity of any currently existing single institution failing to answer the needs for a platform efficiently archiving the web, a team of American researchers have come up with an innovative solution, submitted to the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and published in the open-access journal Research Ideas and Outcomes (RIO).

They propose a lightweight, open-source collaborative collection development platform, called Cobweb, to support the creation of comprehensive web archives by coordinating the independent activities of the web archiving community. Through sharing the responsibility with various institutions, the aggregator service is to provide a large amount of continuously updated content at greater speed with less effort.

In their proposal, the authors from the California Digital Library, the UCLA Library, and Harvard Library, give an example with the fast-developing news event of the Arab Spring, observed to unfold online simultaneously via news reports, videos, blogs, and social media.

“Recognizing the importance of recording this event, a curator immediately creates a new Cobweb project and issues an open call for nominations of relevant web sites,” explain the researchers. “Scholars, subject area specialists, interested members of the public, and event participants themselves quickly respond, contributing to a site list that is more comprehensive than could be created by any curator or institution.”

“Archiving institutions review the site list and publicly claim responsibility for capturing portions of it that are consistent with local collection development policies and technical capacities.”

Unlike already existing tools supporting some level of collaborative collecting, the proposed Cobweb service will form a single integrated system.

“As a centralized catalog of aggregated collection and seed-level descriptive metadata, Cobweb will enable a range of desirable collaborative, coordinated, and complementary collecting activities,” elaborate the authors. “Cobweb will leverage existing tools and sources of archival information, exploiting, for example, the APIs being developed for Archive-It to retrieve holdings information for over 3,500 collections from 350 institutions.”

If funded, the platform will be hosted by the California Digital Library and initialized with collection metadata from the partners and other stakeholder groups. While the project is planned to take a year, halfway through the partners will share a release with the global web archiving community at the April 2017 IIPC General Assembly to gather feedback and discuss ongoing sustainability. They also plan to organize public webinars and workshops focused on creating an engaged user community.

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Original source:

Abrams S, Goethals A, Klein M, Lack R (2016) Cobweb: A Collaborative Collection Development Platform for Web Archiving. Research Ideas and Outcomes 2: e8760. doi: 10.3897/rio.2.e8760