NWO Open Science Fund: Support for TU Delft applicants and grantees

By Emmy Tsang, with contributions from Alastair Dunning, Meta Keijzer-de Ruijter and Yan Wang 

(Disclaimer: This piece represents the author’s and contributors’ interpretation of the NWO Open Science Fund Call for Proposals and does not reflect NWO’s official position, other than in the parts where the Call for Proposal document was directly quoted/referenced.) 

The Dutch national research funder NWO has opened a new funding call to support researchers to “develop, test and implement innovative ways of making research open, accessible, transparent and reusable”.  

  • Each project can apply for a maximum of 50,000EUR, for maximum 1 year 
  • The call is open until April 1, 2021. 

In this post, we outline what the Open Science Fund is and how the TU Delft Open Science Programme (OSP) plans to help incubate suitable ideas at TU Delft, support applicants, and if successful, grant implementation and working openly on the projects. 

💡 If you are a TU Delft researcher and have an idea (no matter how small!) that can help drive open science in your community and are thinking of applying to the Open Science Fund, please contact Emmy Tsang (Community Engagement Manager (open science), f [dot] tsang [at] tudelft [dot] nl) – we’d love to brainstorm and refine the idea with you, and explore working on the project together! 

What is the NWO Open Science Fund – what kind of projects does it support? 

You can read all about it in the Call for Proposals

In particular, the Open Science Fund would like to encourage projects that advances one (or more) of the following goals. We’ve added some examples (in sub-bullets) of what we think project ideas can potentially be: 

  1. Rewards & incentives: incentivise other researchers to practise Open Science, for example by improving how good practice is recognised, embedded and rewarded, or by developing new indicators to assess impact;
    • ✅ An alternative index for measuring research outputs’ impact 
    • ✅ A new community platform that promotes knowledge exchange and sharing  
    • ✅ A website showcasing open-source research software developed at institutions, and associated metrics 
  1. Open Scholarly communication: transform the way researchers publish, for example by developing open source tools that increase the use of pre-prints, by enhancing the publication of data and software code, or by testing new ways to support open peer review or to report null or negative findings; 
    • ✅ Researchers-led/driven training for the management and sharing of a specific type of data, e.g. IIIF gallery for map data. 
    • ✅ Jupyter-driven publication templates in research fields that don’t currently implement these 
  1. FAIR outputs and standards: improve how research outputs are made findable, accessible, interoperable, re-usable (FAIR) and reproducible, for example by pioneering approaches to enrich and standardise metadata, particularly in disciplines where standards are not available, or to assess the reproducibility and reusability of findings;
    • ✅ Template for Git-based experimental documentation 
    •  Cite-a-thons: a 3-hour session where everyone in a department works on improving the citability of their research software/datasets 
    •  Discipline-specific metadata standard for models, or interview transcripts  
    •  Community-driven peer review protocols and evaluation criteria. 
  1. Open tools and platforms: develop, test or adapt open platforms or tools, for example to combine or repurpose datasets and other research outputs from different locations and disciplines, to advance the quality, reusability and sustainability of software code, to crowdsource ideas, or to mine vast quantities of research data and content
    • ✅ Initiatives to build Frictionless data packages 
    • ✅ A community-run platform for open research software testing and review (e.g. expanding on rOpenSci for research field specific needs) 
  1. Culture change towards open science: stimulate wider adoption of Open Science practices among researchers, for example by promoting wide uptake or implementation of existing tools or ways of working, or by facilitating exchange of practice through training activities or by developing communities around existing Open Science tools and platforms. 
    •  A template and pilot sessions for virtual Open data days/lunches 
    • ✅ Toolkit for building an OER community in your dept 
    • ✅ Community-driven development of a curriculum on open data and GDPR/data privacy and ethics 
    • ✅ Online community open space for updating/exchanging disciplinary practices 

Looking at the assessment criteria, project ideas should aim to: 

  • Be innovative and novel – show a clear understanding of the problem space and landscaping efforts to identify existing solutions to be sure not to reinvent/duplicate existing work 
  • Have well-defined, measurable impact – demonstrate thorough consideration of how the success of the project would be measured, and how that data/feedback can be collected 
  • Be feasible, include a project roadmap with time points and well-scoped deliverables towards the project’s goals, and a well-reasoned budget 
  • Be led by a suitable team, team members should have the required expertise to complete the various project elements; the main applicant should have a solid track record in practising and being involved open science  

Costs that cannot be applied for: 

  • ❌ Activities that are part of mandatory Open Access and research data management requirements for any other project any of the applicants may hold 
  • ❌ Any costs that are already covered by applicants’ other grants 
  • ❌ Basic facilities (e.g. Laptop, desks) 
  • ❌ Maintenance and insurance costs 

What do you mean by “support”? Surely I can just submit my own application? 

You can definitely submit your application on your own, but the TU Delft Open Science Programme team has diverse expertise and knowledge on many aspects of open science, and we would like to share that with our applicants. Through working together with TU Delft applicants, we also hope to learn how our Open Science Programme can better align our efforts to our research community’s needs. 

The open science programme team can help expand your idea in the aspects detailed in the text below.

During the application phase, we can: 

  • Work with you landscaping (do similar solutions/ideas exist already?) and roadmapping (sections 3.2 and 3.3 of the application) 
  • Help identify potential collaborators/partners 
  • Offer project domain specific support, e.g. on rewards and incentives, scholarly communication, FAIR outputs and standards and community building 
  • Advise on research data management planning (section 5 of the application) 
  • Help research and bring to attention public datasets that you can reuse for your project 
  • Advise on the use and collection of any sensitive and/or personal data 
  • Advise on software sustainability plans (section 6 of the application) 

If your application is successful, we are happy to help with: 

  • Advising on data and software management 
  • Software development – you can apply for dedicated resource from the Digital Competence Centre through their regular calls for applications 
  • Publishing and making more parts of your project work open (e.g. through the sharing of data and code output, open publications and broader communications) 

If the grant application is unsuccessful, we can see if we can match alternative sources of funding for the projects. 

Reach out with your ideas/questions today! 

Transition to Team Science and Rewards

Authors: Young Science in Transition

Young Science in Transition (YoungSiT) represents a think-tank of early career researchers to promote a change in the academic reward and incentive system, facilitating the fight against the evaluation of scientists by numbers or publications rather than their societal relevance (see the website of Science in Transition for more information). YoungSiT aims to raise awareness, to promote engagement and to develop ideas for Open Science, Team Science and Recognition and Rewards. In this context, YoungSiT held a symposium on the 10th of December 2020. In total, ~70 participants (early career researchers, support staff and policy officers) from various universities, medical centers, funding agencies and academic networks (for example, the Promovendi Netwerk Nederland) gathered virtually to discuss the topic of Team Science.

Charisma Hehakaya (YoungSiT) opened the symposium with an introduction of YoungSiT and the concept of Team Science. What is Team Science? Are there theoretical frameworks that center on Team Science? And what are daily practice examples of Team Science? The term Team Science seems to be very complex, as there is currently no common definition. Key elements of Team Science are collaboration between disciplines and/or domains, and diversity within and between teams (for example: background, expertise, position, gender, and age). The YoungSiT symposium provided a platform to learn more about the topic of Team Science and to exchange best practices. Below follows a summary of the presentations that were given during the symposium.

What does Team Science look like? (Image credit)

Sustainable careers

Jos Akkerman’s research focuses on sustainable careers in academia. In our debate in recognition and rewards we are ultimately discussing people’s careers in academia. A career is an evolving sequence of work related experience over time. We used to view these careers as a one way road: you choose an occupation and then you do this for life. For many people, especially academics, there is no such rigid structure. It is no longer the case that we make one big choice after graduation. Nowadays, we can choose multiple paths or switch paths, which makes careers much more dynamic and flexible.This also makes careers much more difficult to navigate. Most of us are in need of more support to navigate this complex landscape. If you have the team that provides you with this support and the  resources to give you a kickstart you are in a privileged position compared to others that do not have access to these resources. This potentially leads to polarisation, where the strong get stronger and the weak get weaker (Matthew effect). We should therefore move away from the focus on single individual superstar careers, and instead focus on the long term effects to ensure that careers are sustainable.Jos Akkermans worked on a conceptual model for this (De Vos et al. 2020), which demonstrates that we shouldn’t only look at success or productivity (generating papers and receiving grants), but focus on whether this productivity is sustainable over time. People need to enjoy what they do and be healthy to be able to keep doing this more productively in the long run!

Synergy between education & research 

Niels Bovenschen described the case study of Micha, a 4 year old boy with a muscle weakness disease. After four years of research the cause of Micha’s disease was still not known. Micha’s case was presented to biomedical students. These bachelor students worked together with medical experts to develop proposals to study the disease of Micha. All the proposals were reviewed by the students and the results were presented at a symposium as part of the course. They identified the best proposal and the students were given the opportunity to execute their proposals in the lab of Niels. The Bachelor Research Hub is a place where students can engage with transdisciplinary research on such real world patient cases. By creating teams from patients, students and researchers, each of these stakeholders gain a lot of mutual benefits! Students learn a lot of skills (technical, scientific, academic) and get to work on case studies that really matter, which motivates and inspires them. The patients can participate in research and teaching, and receive additional research on their disease. Researchers receive help from students, acquire new data, scout talents, bring down research costs and contribute to their own ongoing work. Niels hopes that the Bachelor Research Hub can be a space for other universities to collaborate together on this transdisciplinary type of research/education.

From theory to practice

Erik van Sebille is an oceanographer, trying to understand how the ocean’s currents move stuff around. Most of his research is about plastic and this topic transcends the field of oceanography. It can be difficult, however, to know who you can work with outside of your own research field and sometimes these collaborators come from unexpected areas of expertise. For example, Erik worked together with archaeologists when they needed to not only find out how old a New Zealand shipwreck was, but also where the ship actually came from. To address the last question the archaeologists needed Erik’s research on the ocean’s currents. In working across disciplines you need to know what you can and cannot contribute to the research project.As long as you are an expert in your contribution to the research you do not need to be an expert in the areas of your collaborators: that is why you collaborate! You should be open about your collaborations to avoid miscommunication and conflict of interests. There are a lot of opportunities nowadays, see for example the Centre for Unusual Collaborations. Erik argues that we should move from authorship to contributorship in these collaborations. Authors should be listed alphabetically, with detailed contributions of authors listed in a taxonomy such as CRediT.

Team Science in Sports 

Karlien Sleper presented her view on teams as a monobob athlete. Although this seems like a very individualistic sport, just as academia, Karlien really stands on the shoulders of her team. The team takes care, for example, of the transport of the monobob sled which cannot be transported or lifted by a single person. Outside of the monobob team, Karlien also depends on the support from her family and friends. According to Karlien, you need some help if you want to achieve something in life.

Rewarding Team Science

Marc Galland is part of the Amsterdam Science Park Study Group. This group is building up a community of computational biologists and bioinformaticians and recently received the Team Science Award from NWO. With this prize, the group would like to organise more training activities (such as Carpentry Workshops), organise a “data and code festival”, and hire software experts. By being part of research groups they can collaborate easily with researchers. The Team Science award made the group feel recognised for their contributions to research projects. 

Sanneke van Vliet from ZonMW highlighted the importance of connecting different types of knowledge in order to improve the quality of health research and solve social health challenges. Generally, this type of research requires scientists to work together in larger teams. ZonMW stimulates the rewarding of Team Science through their grant programmes by recognising these contributions in their review procedures. ZonMw changed their CV templates to a narrative CV, allowing researchers to elaborate on their contributions in their teams. Sanneke thinks that personal grants are here to stay, but the focus of the funding is increasingly moving towards consortium funding. Importantly, while personal grants might be rewarded to individuals this doesn’t mean that the individual alone is responsible for their success!

Martijn Deenen provided NWO’s perspective on Team Science. NWO stimulates collaboration between teams, such as consortia that consist of several disciplines. NWO stimulates Team Science by allowing teams to win the most prestigious prize in the Netherlands (Spinoza and Stevin Prize for small teams of maximal three PI’s). Unfortunately, the universities do not nominate teams yet so the prizes are still awarded to individuals. NWO has several funding schemes for consortia (inter- and transdisciplinary): the NWA, KIC and Infra. In the Open Competition small Team Science projects (consisting of two PI’s) can be funded. The Team Science Prize, rewarded to the team of Marc, was introduced in 2020. The only focus on individual grants is found In the Talent Programme (Veni, Vidi, Vici). Nevertheless, NWO is working on shifting away from the ‘star science’ focus of these grants. Martijn thinks that NWO and ZonMW are ahead of the universities in terms of Open Science, Team Science and changes in recognition and reward systems. According to Martijn, the deans, rectors and directors of the universities should be encouraged to stop using metrics to evaluate researchers at their institutes and move from quantity (numbers) to quality (narrative).

 “I really like NWO’s new policy of having narrative CVs rather than lists of various outputs. This allows people to give their own unique emphasis on their own career story. Of course, NWO can design this policy but, ultimately, the reviewers and panel members also need to be on board. If they (implicitly?) still look at top journals, it is difficult to change.” 

Jos Akkermans
Image on achieving the balance in recognition of individual and team contributions, taken from Room for everyone’s talent: towards a new balance in the recognition and rewards for academics.

After the discussion led by Rinze Benedictus (YoungSiT) during the symposium there are still many questions left. For instance, how do we find the balance between the individual and the collective? How do we reward individuals that make up a team? What if not all contributions are easily measured? What does being a team player mean? How can we focus on how individuals fit within a team rather than focusing solely on their individual contributions? What can we learn from industry? We did not find a one size fits all solution, or a definition of Team Science, but in general the conclusion of the symposium was positive. The move from rewarding the individual to rewarding team contributions was visible throughout the symposium. The word balance was also used a lot during the discussion and in the chat. It is important to recognise the complexity of scientific research and provide sustainable career paths and recognition for all types of contributions, whether these are generated by an individual or by a team. 

See also: 

Ally Skills Workshop

Authors: Esther Plomp & Lena Karvovskaya

The workshop was given as part of the second Open Life Science cohort. A shorter version of this workshop is part of the training and mentoring programme. The applications for the third cohort are open until January 11 2021!

On 4 December we, Esther Plomp (Data Steward at the Faculty of Applied Science) and Lena Karvovskaya (Community Manager RDM at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) followed an Ally skills Workshop provided by Open Life Science and run by Malvika Sharan, Yo Yehudi and Emmy Tsang, who have received their trainer’s training from the Frame Shift Consulting.

This workshop focuses on providing you skills to be an ally. An ally is a member of a social group that understands their privilege (an unearned advantage given by society to some people) that is working to end oppression (systemic, pervasive inequality that is present throughout society, that benefits people with more privilege and harms those with fewer privileges). We think that it is very important for us to take some time to learn these skills to be better equipped to improve the inclusivity of our workplace and social environments. Having an inclusive environment will allow everyone to flourish and it provides better opportunities for learning and collaborating, ultimately leading to higher quality and thus impact of our work.

Picture of a fennex fox (CC-BY-SA) with large ears, because allies need to be good listeners.

One of the first things we did in the workshop was identifying our power and privilege by using a checklist provided by Frame Shift Consulting. As white, cis, abled bodied, straight women, we ticked quite some expected boxes, but also some boxes that we did not expect to tick! The amount of power or privilege that you have may change depending on your current situation. For example, if you work abroad for a couple of years you may not speak the primary language there, but once you are back home you are in a privileged situation where you speak the preferred language. We recommend going over this exercise for yourself to become more aware of your own situation.

Most of the workshop consisted of responding to a set of scenarios that were selected by the trainers. In our response we had to focus on how someone could act as an ally in this particular scenario. These discussions were held in breakout rooms with 3-4 participants. One of the participants was the moderator to ensure that everyone could provide input and another participant would take the notes and report back to the full group afterwards. We found these scenarios and the input of other participants very helpful, as it is easy to freeze up in unexpected situations and only later find the appropriate words to address the situation. Sometimes the situations you are in are very complex and there may not be an easy way out, or you do not hold enough power to call people out on their behaviour. It is important to pick your battles in these cases, addressing the situation when you can while at the same time not repeating yourself to preserve your energy when the conversation is no longer helpful. Going over these scenarios and having a number of options on how to respond as an ally has made us a lot more comfortable to deal with uncomfortable situations that we will still encounter.

Example of a scenario by Frame Shift Consulting: A colleague of yours says, “It’s great to hire more people of color, but let’s not lower the bar.” Before you can reply, another colleague says, “Oh yes, we’ll be careful not to lower the bar.”

While all the materials are made available online by Frame Shift Consulting, we can highly recommend signing up for one of these workshops. The contributions and perspectives of our fellow attendees and our excellent instructors were invaluable and we found it one of the most engaging online events we attended this year! We learned a lot about ourselves and how to handle some difficult situations where we hold more privileges and can step up for others. We think the workshop was a great success as we now feel a lot more comfortable to work on the inclusivity of our environments. 

Additional resources

–         Slides, handouts and scenario prompts by Frame Shift Consulting and the Dear Ally Skills Teacher blog
–         On Allyship and Performative Wokeness by Eric Peterson (blog)
–         How to Be a Good Ally by Ahsante the Artist (7 min video)
–         Fundamentals of effective allyship by Karolina Szczur (blog)
–         White fragility by Robin DiAngelo (book)
–         Why I’m no longer talking to white people about race by Reni Eddo-Lodge (book)

Fruitful collaborations with third parties: Challenges and opportunities

Following a first productive thematic session, the Open Science Programme team gathered for a second session on the cross-cutting theme “Fruitful collaboration with third parties”.  

Rianne van den Bogerd, the cross-cutting theme lead and a member of TU Delft Legal Services, designed this session with the aim to learn more about concerns and issues faced by the research community when collaborating with third parties. Since cross-cutting themes intersect with all other project themes within the open science programme, she would also like to take the opportunity to better understand the Open Science programme team’s expectations regarding the outcomes of the cross-cutting theme. 

Key takeaways: 

  • 🤝 Partnerships with third parties are an important part of TU Delft’s research, and it is crucial to have sufficient support, guidelines and resources to ensure that these collaborations are fruitful for all parties involved 
  • 🔑 Raising awareness, providing training and support and establishing processes for researchers to navigate and understand policies and legal instruments are key to compliance, and ultimately to the effective implementation of these policies and instruments. 
  • ️⛳️ At the start of a collaboration, it is crucial for collaborating parties to establish common goals and be transparent. 

What are third parties, and why are fruitful collaborations with them important to open science? 

Third parties here refer to anyone outside of TU Delft, but in the context of research at TU Delft, it is particularly important to consider our collaborations with industrial partners. Many TU Delft research groups partner with national companies as well as international global players, and in many of these cases, industrial partners strongly prefer non-disclosure and confidentiality. We believe that a culture of collaboration and openness will help reduce cost in research and development, protect research integrity, accelerate innovation, and ultimately benefit all parties in the partnership. Nevertheless, it is important to understand the challenges in collaborations, such that we can put in place necessarily legal instruments, guidelines, support and tooling to help build towards fruitful, constructive partnerships.  

What is the latest progress of this work? 

Rianne warmed up the session with a quiz, covering various topics within the “Fruitful collaborations with third parties” theme. You can test your knowledge by playing an adapted version of the quiz.  

One of the first goals of the “Fruitful Collaborations with Third Parties” theme is to enable the publication of master theses in the TU Delft repository, thus making them more widely accessibly. The implementation plan has now been drafted and internally discussed, and we look forward to it being in place in the academic year 2021/22. 

Related to this theme’s work, TU Delft and CESAER are jointly organising an online conference on “Online conference ‘Openness and Commercialisation: How the two can go together” on December 3 and 4. Speakers and participants will explore topic from intellectual property rights to data confidentiality and GDPR- register today to join

In collaboration with the internal and external data experts, work is also underway to make an overview of research data issues related to third party collaborations, from a legal perspective. To this end, Rianne has prepared two questions for the session participants to discuss in small groups. Our discussion output, summarised below, will contribute to the overview, as well as the final policy document regarding fruitful collaborations with third parties.  

Do we have enough policies, (legal) instruments and staff to protect TU Delft research data?  

Discussion groups have successfully identified gaps in TU Delft’s existing policies regarding research data. For examples: 

  • In the hospitality agreement for visiting scholars to TU Delft, there is no mention of data 
  • The roles and responsibilities around master’s students sharing or creating data with industrial partners are unclear 

Most importantly, all groups felt that the key missing piece is researchers’ awareness and engagement with policies and instruments. These policies and instruments concern complex legal issues, and without adequate training and support, it is difficult for researchers to know when, where and how to adopt them in their day-to-day work. All groups agreed that more resources needed to be dedicated to: 

  • Providing related training, not only to researchers, but also do staff who help advise researchers and teachers on these issues 
  • Setting up workflows, policies and tooling to facilitate compliance 
  • Raising awareness for the support available (e.g. from legal services, Valorisation Centre, data stewards, Library, etc) such that researchers and staff know who to reach out to and when; and building these support capacities to be able to handle the individual complexity of each case 

What are the most important starting points, considerations and/or steps for a fruitful collaboration with third parties? 

Session participants explored this topic from various perspectives, from ethical to operation. 

All groups agree that an important starting point is to identify shared and differing goals and values between the collaborators. Two of the examples the groups discussed: 

  • Researchers may want to prioritise the freedom to research and publish, while industrial partners have their own strategic roadmap and research agenda 
  • Senior managers who negotiated the collaboration and staff in the team will undertake the projects may have different visions and priorities 

Being transparent about the goals, agendas and concerns for each party, and identifying common objectives together will not only help scope and align collaborations, but also build trust between the parties involved. 

The groups also discussed the operational aspects of establishing collaborations. Depend on the collaboration, there may need to be: 

  • Legal agreement(s) in place, 
  • Access and understanding to related policies, and how the collaborating parties plan to comply with them, 
  • Shared standards and tools to share results and data, and 
  • Periodic reviews in place to assess project progress. 

What’s next? 

The output from this session is a good starting point for further exploration into this area, and to get to know the various experts within the TU Delft community who can help advise and offer their perspectives on these issues. Rianne looks forward to having more in-depth conversation with some participants and their colleagues. 

If you have any comments regarding the discussions and work described in this article, please feel free to leave them in the Comment section of this post.  

Extended reading: 

Techrede 2020 | Trustworthy Information Services for Policy Impact 

Dirk Jan Ligtenbelt, Jorden Esser, Eric Rumondor and Deirdre Casella

Technological innovation plays a fundamental role in the transition to a resilient, secure and sustainable future. Trustworthy, evidence-based information about such innovation is essential in connecting scientific research with efforts to tackle societal challenges.

In a rapid, iterative cycle of tailor-made search queries and information management tactics, a team of information and data specialists from TU Delft Library and 4TU.ResearchData set out to provide a trustworthy overview of supplemental information for the 4TU. Federation’s Techrede this past autumn.

This blog offers insights into the methods, reasoning and potential for policy impact of such an exercise.

Background | Techrede

On 1 October 2020, four students from the federated technical universities of The Netherlands, delivered the Techrede. A nod to the annual Troonrede speech of the King of the Netherlands on Prinsjesdag in which the main features of government policy for the coming year are set out – the Techrede appeals to industry, politicians and citizens of the Netherlands to make technical innovations a structural part of the national agenda for the coming decennia. 

Hosted by the 4TU.Federation, in collaboration with other research and knowledge institutes, the Techrede presents a vision for the future. Through this future vision based upon collective innovation, action and collaboration a deltaplan for the coming decades is forged to tackle pressing societal issues in domains of climate, health, mobility, nutrition and the food system. 

Trustworthy information for Policy Impact

Any event and public declaration aiming to influence actors from industry, government and society needs to spark emotion, connecting with peoples’ interests about the future, their well-being and pressing societal challenges. 

The Techrede achieved this through presenting a series of well considered, emotive, statements – or propositions – in a visually engaging way and told in the manner of a personal, familial or societal narrative.

The Team: Jorden Esser (left), Eric Rumondor (top) & Dirk Jan Ligtenbelt (bottom right) from TU Delft Library & 4TU ResearchData
Photo: Deirdre Casella

This approach to connecting with people’s emotions – individual or collective – is effective for garnering listener’s attention. In an era of fake news and competing public discourses, such statements need to be grounded in evidence. 

As information and research support specialists working in the domain of academic and scientific research, this is the point at which we say “Welcome to our wheelhouse! How can we help?” For, it is precisely in this nexus, where research questions meet information science, research analytics and data management practices, where we step up to help. 

Our team of information and data specialists from TU Delft Library and 4TU.ResearchData are poised to bring the full effect of our methodological expertise and technical know-how to support policy-engagement efforts and initiatives such as the Techrede with trustworthy, evidence-based information. 

Research Analytics Support: An Iterative Approach

While the team is well versed in methods and standards involved in identifying and referencing reliable knowledge and research sources, the scope and ambition of the Techrede called for a tailor-made approach. For this reason, our team applied an iterative approach over several rounds of exchange with the Techrede team to ensure the supporting information was fit for purpose.

Figure 1 Iterative approach for tailor made research analytics support

Techrede produced a series of vlogs and online interviews with researchers from each of the four TU’s to showcase innovative technologies in the summer of 2020. These showcases formed the basis of the speech with a wide range of propositions about the nature of pressing challenges and promising innovations eloquently woven into the speech to be presented to decision- and policy makers on research, education and financial investment in science and innovation. The initial challenge our team set out to address was to match these showcase examples with supporting evidence in the form of datasets and peer-reviewed scientific publications. In time, however, the exercise evolved into a tailored approach for identifying relevant supporting data and coupling it with the propositions. 

As the speech writing team progressed with the initial drafts of the speech, the request for our support remained quite broad with over 75 propositions delivered to us for review and matching with existing sources of data and peer reviewed publications. An initial round of clustering according to the Techrede themes climate, health, mobility, nutrition and the food system reduced the number a bit, but still the challenge remained daunting. An exercise in providing referenced, openly available information sources for such a great number of statements is not only time consuming (and costly!), but gives pause for reflection on what actually is required in the form of supporting information sources to confirm the existence of a topic of societal dialogue, scientific line of inquiry or impactful innovation?

In order to drill down further a series of clarifying conversations and email exchanges followed between the Techrede coordinators and our team to refine the request even further. Once the scope of the search action was clearly set, the basis was in place to create custom-made search queries and databases. Among our team members, the roles were organised as follows:

Figure 2: Division of Team Roles

Commonly available tools used to search for, manage citations and present supplemental information in a structured and accessible manner included Google and Google Scholar for web-based searches and Mendeley for citation management. In the preliminary steps, a number of trial queries were performed using sources such as Web of Science, Scopus, Dimensions, and Lens.org. Eventually, this route was abandoned due to not being scalable for the considerable amount of statements at hand. An exhaustive search would prove too time-consuming and the wealth of ‘hits’ would prove difficult to narrow down to a manageable (long)list had we opted to use these resources. We were also confronted with a lack of availability of requested information types in such A&I databases, e.g. news, websites, and policy documents.


The resulting product was a tabular overview in which 28 propositions, including sub-propositions, were matched with verified sources of information such as institutional policy documents, scientific journal articles and news items available in the public domain. Per proposition, three to four policy documents, scientific papers, websites and/or datasets were considered sufficient supporting evidence that the public and scientific dialogue mirrored the stance taken in the Techrede.

This overview of supporting information was provided to the student representatives who presented the speech, Techrede’s strategy directors and chairpersons as well as the project group. 

“We were very pleased with the valuable contribution made by the TU Delft Library and 4TU.ResearchData team, and found the cooperation to be very pleasant and efficient. The document was shared with the students [presenters] as well as with the strategy directors, chairpersons and our project group, and it was mentioned that this was the contribution of 4TU.ResearchData and TU Delft Library team. All those involved were very grateful and able to quickly read up on topics with which they were less familiar. As a result, they felt they were well prepared to tell their story and to speak to others, both inside and outside the organisation.” 

Rio Pals, Content and Account Manager Techrede, WUR, 7 October 2020


As information specialists and research data management specialists, our aim was not to either validate or replicate the work of researchers showcased through the Techrede. The aim of this effort was to identify and match the key statements presented on the 1st of October with openly available sources from available news sources, published policies and peer reviewed scientific journal articles. 

Key lessons we took away from the exercise included:

  • The value of an iterative approach to arrive at the desired method and results. 
  • The risk of such an exercise lies in the potential of getting lost in the woods as there is SO MUCH information available. Choices need to be made, and quickly.
  • The process: a short, well-defined search action delivered the required results. Arriving at the ‘well-defined’ question / request is possibly the hardest part. 
  • Learning when to stop: making practical choices about what supporting documentation is sufficient to buttress the statements being made.  

This exercise in research analytics not only served to supplement the key emotive statements about societal challenges and promising solutions with evidence-based resources, but also served as supplemental information for the speakers, policy makers and other speech recipients by providing further insights into the broad array of topics and innovations being showcased. 

Final note: The Techrede vlog series from summer of 2020, including interviews and dialogues with researchers and innovators from the university and ministries of The Netherlands, may be viewed on the Techrede Youtube channel: https://lnkd.in/gh5sN5J

Research Data Alliance Plenary 16 – Esther’s perspective

Author: Esther

The Research Data Alliance (RDA) is an international organisation dedicated to the open sharing and reuse of research data. It has over 11,000 members world-wide and has a plenary meeting twice a year (normally at various locations around the globe). During these meetings there are various sessions that focus on collaborative working on a solution for a particular problem. I (Esther Plomp) attended the RDA Plenary 16th meeting in Costa Rica (Virtual) 9-12 November 2020 and will share below some of my key take away points from the meeting.

Physical Samples and Collections in the Research Data Ecosystem

The most important session from this year’s plenary for me personally, was the Physical Samples and Collections in the Research Data Ecosystem Interest Group. I was very much inspired by the work of this group when I attended their session during my first RDA plenary meeting in Helsinki in 2019. Since then, I wrote an essay on the topic that won the CODATA connect essay competition, highlighting the wider relevance of physical data and samples in research. Moreover, I have now also become a co-chair of the RDA group!

The Physical Samples and Collections group aims to increase awareness for physical samples in research. This can include biological specimens, rock/mineral specimens, soil/sediment cores, plants and seed, water, archaeological artefacts, DNA, human tissues, manuscripts, maps, analogue images. These physical objects should be integrated into the digital research data ecosystem in order to support search, retrieval, analysis, reuse, preservation and scientific reproducibility. The group aims to facilitate cross-domain exchanges and collaborative working towards persistent identifiers for physical samples as well as metadata standards for documenting samples.

During the session the participants received progress updates regarding recent projects with a focus on physical samples (iSamples, ESIP Samples Cluster, IGSN 2040, AuScope Geochemistry Network). As a result of the session two tasks for the group were proposed:

  1. To establish a minimum metadata profile for physical sample discovery. This could improve collaborative approaches that cross domains by making the data more findable through the use of similar language and keywords.
  2. Setting up a flyer with information about how to integrate physical samples better in the digital research ecosystem. This would increase awareness among researchers and research institutes/libraries about the options that are already available to manage physical samples.

Data Granularity

The Data Granularity group aims to better understand and address existing needs for data granularity practices. The group addresses questions such as which part of the dataset should be made available? Should separate parts of a dataset become citable? As a group member I have been contributing to a list of existing RDA resources that touch upon the topic of data granularity and are relevant to the current group. After the plenary this work will be continued in the form of a working group that will set up recommendation and/or guidelines for data granularity.

Other groups

Between the next plenary I’ll be following and contributing to the work of some of the other interest and working groups (IG, WG):

Other interesting discussions during this plenary focused on whether we would need ‘Data Concierges’ (probably not?) and whether we should set up an ‘Open Science Registry on Rewards and Incentives’ (to be continued…).

The Indigenous Data Sovereignty and Governance in the Americas Plenary session is a must see. Tweet by Esther

As part of the poster session I also presented two posters on projects that I am involved in:

The Turing Way

The Turing Way is an open source community-driven guide to reproducible, ethical, inclusive and collaborative data science. The goal of the project is to provide all the information that data scientists need at the start of their projects to ensure that they are easy to reproduce and reuse at the end. The Turing Way invites contributions through their GitHub repository. You can receive updates by following The Turing Way on Twitter or by signing up for the newsletter.

Download the poster to click through it!

Open Research Calendar

The Open Research Calendar enables anyone interested in open research to keep track of events that are held. Events can be added by anyone through entering information about the events into a short Google form. This information then generates a calendar entry and an automated tweet from the Twitter account (@OpenResearchCal) to notify followers of the calendar about the new event. The code and documentation for the calendar is open source and shared with a GNU 3.0 license, so you are free to recreate the automation and communication features for your own community. Contributions to the technical development of the calendar are welcome: please see the public GitHub repository. You can also request Open Research Calendar stickers!

Download the poster and click through it!

To bring these experiences back to TU Delft I’m on the lookout for case studies to apply the recommendations from the ‘Persistent Identification of Instruments’. I’m also looking forward to work on the flyer about physical samples in order to increase awareness about how to manage these resources and to contribute to the reproducibility of this type of research. You’re always welcome if you have any questions about the work of these groups, if or if you would like to learn more about the Open Research Calendar and The Turing Way!

Publishing articles in 2021

Authors: Esther Plomp

Plan S, an initiative for open access science publishing launched in 2018, requires researchers who are funded by signatories such as the Dutch Research Council (NWO) to publish in open repositories/journals by 2021. The European Commission is a supporter of Plan S and has similar requirements for their Horizon Europe projects.

NWO projects which are funded by calls from 1st of Jan 2021 onward and Horizon Europe projects* have the following requirements:

*The Horizon Europe Annotated Grant Agreement has not been released yet, so this section may be subjected to change.

  • Articles should be Open Access upon publication: No embargo period is allowed.
    • Books and book chapters are still beyond the scope of Plan S. NWO allows an embargo period of 12 months for these research outputs.
  • Authors should retain copyright.
  • Authors should use a CC-BY license in order to allow as much reuse of scholarly publications as possible.
    • For books and book chapters CC-BY-ND/NC is still allowed.
    • NWO allows exceptions for CC-BY-ND for articles.
    • See the Creative Commons website for more information about these licenses.
  • You can use project funding for Article Processing Charges but:
    • For NWO the journal needs to be registered in the Directory of Open Access Journals. If the journal is not registered in this directory you can still publish in the journal but you cannot use funding for the fees.
    • For Horizon Europe you are eligible for funding if the article is published in a full open access venue (hybrid journals are not allowed).
  • The manuscript needs to be peer reviewed. Preferably the Version of Record from the publisher is made available, but the Author Accepted Manuscript (postprint that is peer reviewed but not yet formatted by the journal) is also accepted.
  • Compliance is monitored by NWO/Horizon Europe.

A first version of the Journal Checker Tool is now available, so that you can now easily check yourself whether your preferred journal is in compliance with Plan S!

Researchers at Dutch institutes have several options to publish Open Access for Plan S:

If you would like to make your work available from projects before 2021 (or if you’re not funded by NWO/Horizon Europe) you can also make use of these additional options:

  • Through the project ‘You Share, We Take Care’ you can make articles and book chapters published from 2018 onwards available after an embargo period of six months. You can now participate through this online form!
  • You can always post a postprint using repositories/preprint servers: Check Sherpa/Romeo to see which version of the manuscript you can make available and for the length of embargo periods.

Resources that go into more detail:

Horizon Europe – Open Access
NWO Plan S Implementation Guidelines
KNAW Webinar Implementation of Plan S
Nine routes towards Plan S compliance
Open Access policies for Dutch researchers
What will change in Horizon Europe?
Open Science in Horizon Europe: what to expect?

Update: Corrected a sentence that stated that the European Commission is a Plan S signatory: they are a supporter. Thanks to Jeroen Sondervan for this correction!
Update: Horizon Europe does not allow exceptions to the CC-BY license for articles and does not require the ‘open access venue’ to be registered in the DOAJ. Many thanks to Dagmar Meyer for these corrections!

Who are the DCC?

The Digital Competence Centre (DCC) is an on-campus initiative set up to coordinate the support for the data management and software engineering required for 21st-century research within TU Delft.

Not to be confused with the Design Conceptualization and Communication section within Industrial Design Engineering or the UK-based Digital Curation Centre.

The DCC is the home of the DCC Support Team consisting of data managers and research software engineers based in the TU Delft Library and ICT/Innovation department respectively. Their core aim is helping researchers to develop skills to apply the FAIR principles to their research activities and software. This means that as well as your Faculty’s ICT Managers and Data Stewards there is also more hands-on and involved support available.

Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reuseable

This FAIR support pilot has initially been funded for a two-year run. During this time the team aims to consult with researchers to provide hands-on support for projects, whilst we evaluate whether such support mechanism works and in which ways it can be valuable for TU Delft research community.

Why care about FAIR? 

One of the goals of the pilot is to help researchers apply the FAIR principles, why? As part of the TU Delft Open Science Programme, our University is committed to its efforts for making open research and education a standard part of scientific practice. 

“It is our ambition to be the frontrunner in this area.  Our aim is that Open Science becomes the default setting for research and education at TU Delft.”

Prof. dr. Rob Mudde, vice-rector magnificus of TU Delft

Beyond TU Delft, funding bodies and journals are increasingly asking researchers to make their research outputs FAIR. So the DCC is formed to lend a helping hand to researchers, knowing that learning the skills that dedicated data managers or research software engineers have takes time.

Make your datasets findable (even if this is only to you or your group). Research today often produces large datasets, and as making these datasets easier to find and reuse benefits the wider research community overall, the importance of the management and storage of data can extend beyond the individual researcher.

Make your software or code reproducible. Interpreting these datasets can require a lot of skill, and often the use and development of specialised research software. Benefits to open source research software include increasing reproducibility, allowing other researchers to test their own data with your software, and help you further co-develop and improve your own tools. Even without datasets a research software engineer can help in many other ways including with simulations and developing models.

How can I get their support? 

Any researcher at TU Delft, including postdoctoral researchers and PhD students, can apply for the support from a Data Manager or Research Software Engineer. The next call for projects is expected to go out at the end of November.

Visit https://dcc.tudelft.nl/ for more information.

During this pilot initiative, our data managers and research software engineers will support successful project applications for a maximum of two days a week for six months.

Should you have smaller questions surrounding data management or research software the team may be able to help via email!

Got questions? 

You can reach the DCC and FAIR Support Team through the following email address: dcc@tudelft.nl 

Alternatively, you can reach out in the DCC Community Group on Microsoft Teams.