Data Stewardship at TU Delft – 2020 Report

Authors (listed in alphabetical order by the first name): Esther Plomp, Heather Andrews, Jeff Love, Kees den Heijer, Nicolas Dintzner, Santosh Ilamparuthi, Yan Wang, Yasemin Turkyilmaz-van der Velden

A special year for TUD data stewards

2020 has passed in a very special way for many people, the same for the TUD data stewards team. It was an important year with various types of changes for the data stewardship and the team. This is the moment we look back at what we have done during the year, and acknowledge our progress and achievement as a team.

Programme transition towards sustainability

The pilot program of data stewardship approached its completion at the end of 2020. Throughout the year, the positions of data stewards have been transforming from being funded by the central library to being funded by the individual faculties. Most faculties have made the positions permanent and the others are in the process towards the same setting. This is really a great achievement and an important step for the sustainable development of the data stewardship at TU Delft.

Transition within the team

The team experienced a transition period in the middle of the year. The former coordinator Marta Teperek was promoted to become the head of TU Delft Library research data services and Yan Wang, the former data steward of the Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment, took over the task of coordination. This transition was smooth thanks to the continuous support from Marta and the fact that Yan was already a member of the team. More importantly, the team has become mature after years’ of working together: data stewards can independently handle data management demands at faculties and the team is able to self-manage in a very collaborative manner.

Impact of the pandemic

We can not omit the impact of the COVID pandemic on our work and life. Since mid March 2020, we switched to the mode of working from home. All the regular activities, like team meetings, RDM consultations, training and events, were forced to take place online. The team adapted to the situation quickly, not just changing the ways of working, but also actively experimented how to improve working remotely for different occasions. It was challenging without seeing each other in person, but the team managed to keep the spirits in the (continuous) hard time.

Team achievements across all faculties

Despite the drastic change in the ways of working and team dynamics, it was still a fruitful and productive year for the data stewards both as a team and individually. 

As a team, we have made significant progress on the following activities across all eight faculties. 

Data management consultation

  • The most direct outcome of our work is reflected in the consultations provided to researchers. In total the team supported more than 800 requests from researchers on data management plans and other data management issues. This has been almost doubled compared to the support provided in the previous year. 

Trainings & Education

  • Faculty-level research data management training has been further established and conducted by data stewards. According to specific faculty needs, such as the number of PhDs, the demands of data management activities etc., data stewards collaborate with the faculty graduate schools or departments to provide customized training support for all researchers and some master or bachelor programs. Some faculties have made such training compulsory for PhD students and provide it on a regular basis. 
  • We have also expanded the training support at the university level and beyond. In addition to the regular software carpentry workshops, some data stewards also provided disciplinary workshops, including the genomic data carpentry workshop, code refinery workshop, and social science data carpentry workshop. Some of these workshops were collaborated with other institutions and the data stewards played important roles in instruction and coordination. 

Policy & Strategy

  • Another structural impact of data stewardship is the faculty data management policies. Till early 2021, all faculties have approved the data management policies. All the data stewards have been working on implementing the policies or providing guidance into practical daily research activities according to faculty specific situations.  

Besides the above common achievements shared by the whole team, each data steward also provided extensive faculty specific support and combined their disciplinary needs into research or personal development.

Faculty of Aerospace Engineering

Disciplinary RDM support

  • Provided awareness raising and disciplinary RDM guidance for projects like ReMAP and STEP4WIND on research deliverables, project data security and publishing. 
  • Assisted design and development of ASCM Code Initiative for students and researchers (on-going pilot). 
  • Assisted establishing collaboration between 4TU.ResearchData with AIAA Aeroelastic Community (on-going).
  • Assisted AE Project Support Team (PST-AE) sessions 
  • to establish better communication and more effective workflows between the contract managers, finance team, project support and Data Steward.

Event and Community engagement

  • Intensified the engagement of researchers in the Open Science community with a doubled number of data champions from the faculty. 
  • Continuous outreach to new staff members with customized RDM info package.
  • Invited to provide training sessions and knowledge exchange on RDM, data/code archiving and publishing with 3 universities in Costa Rica, Spain and Austria. 
  • Invited speaker for INOS project.  

Self-development

  • Attended SURFsara training (HPC and supercomputer infrastructure).

Research and Publication

  • Faculty Open Access publishing statistics analysis. 

Faculty of Applied Sciences

Disciplinary RDM support

  • Started monthly PhD newsletters at the faculty
  • Joined the Faculty Graduate School on their tours across the departments
  • Member of a cross-TU Delft working group (involving the Library and ICT) about Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELN)s 

Event and Community engagement

  • Part of the Think Tank of TU Delft OPEN publishing
  • Invited to provide Research Data Management training to Graz University of Technology staff, Austria.
  • Co-organised the 10th anniversary commemoration and relaunch of 4TU.ResearchData
  • Co-chair of RDA group: Physical Samples and Collections in the Research Data Ecosystem IG
  • Invited speaker at 8 (international) events, presented 3 posters and attended over 22 (international) events
  • Program committee member of the Open Science Festival
  • Organised one of the Data Steward Interest Group Meetings and played an active role in these meetings/ the Slack channel.
  • (Co)authored 12 blog posts on Open Working

Self-development

Research and Publication

Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment

Disciplinary RDM support 

  • Lead the coordination of the TUD Digital Humanities community
  • Contributed to one disciplinary reproducibility guidelines

Event and Community engagement

  • Recurring guest in the PhD onboarding course offered at the central graduate school
  • Invited speaker or session organizer at five (inter)national events
  • Co-chair of RDA professionalizing data stewardship IG
  • Served on the advisory board of TU Delft OPEN publishing and suggested to include the contributor statement (CrediT) in the publishing policy

Research and Publication

Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences

Disciplinary RDM support

  • Lead the implementation, onboarding and supervision of data managers at TU Delft and liaise with the Digital Competence Center
  • Took a leading role in emphasising the importance of management information on data for proper recognition of good data management practices
  • Co-organised week-long disciplinary RDM course (in framework of research school “Centre for Technical Geoscience”)

Event and Community engagement

  • Established the data managers community at TU Delft (on-going)

Self-development

  • Microsoft certification Azure Fundamentals

Research and publication

  • Developed the tool for automated DMPonline notifications for TU Delft instance
  • Established the workflow of handling DMP requests and provided daily support 

Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Computer Science and Mathematics 

Disciplinary RDM support

  • Lead the development of the Data Access Committee for handling of personal and confidential data

Event and Community engagement

  • Project lead of the Open Hardware project of the Open Science Programme at TU Delft
  • Maintained the Data Champions newsletter and co-facilitated the transition to the Open Science Community Delft
  • Co-organised the 10th anniversary commemoration and relaunch of 4TU.ResaerchData 
  • Co-chair of RDA Discipline-specific Guidance for Data Management Plans Working Group
  • Invited speaker at multiple (inter)national RDM and open science events
  • Presentations and panel member in events on privacy in research data  
  • Contributed to five blog posts on TU Delft open woking blog

Research and Publication

  • Provided input and review of 4TU data deposition policy
  • Contributed to the development of Beyond Essentials for Data Support course

Faculty of Industrial Design and Engineering

Disciplinary RDM support

  • Collaborating on the development ‘Responsible Data’ modules for BSc courses at the faculty
  • Contributing to body of knowledge and materials in the Data-Centric Design community in IDE: https://datacentricdesign.org/
  • Member of successful H2020 Training Network grant on the future of digital design: https://www.dcode-network.eu/ (temporary site)
  • Participated in external research assessment of IDE faculty on themes of ethics and infrastructure

Event and Community engagement

  • Growing the TUD ‘Digital Humanities’ community with colleagues in BK, EWI and LR

Research and Publication

  • Ran pilot of automated transcription software with colleagues in ICT Innovation
  • Published an Open Access book from work in previous research team

Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering

Disciplinary RDM support

  • Facilitated the Coding Assistant & Research Software Engineer Pilot at 3mE, in collaboration with the library
  • Member of a cross-TU Delft working group (involving the Library and ICT) about Electronic Lab Notebooks (ELN)s 

Event and Community engagement

Research and Publication

Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management

Disciplinary RDM support

  • Contributed to the design of ReproJuice – the Reproducibility Game (currently being deployed) in collaboration with the Game lab
  • Contributed to the MSc workshops on code/software management (part of the “REDCAR” initiative)
  • Provided support to student projects involving personal data as part of BSc MOT-9591 lecture 
  • Provided tutorials and reviews on project specific RDM outputs. 
  • Started the development of a RDM check-out procedure for retiring colleagues. 

Research and publications

Looking forward

Till the moment, the team is still working remotely but with ongoing and new development. The team is in full gear again after going through the transition period by having a new member joined in February. We look forward to intensifying the cultural change towards good data management and open science in the research community, while also to further shaping our data stewardship model.

The importance of data management and demands for data stewards have become evident. We feel proud of our achievements meanwhile also acknowledge many challenges ahead, such as making data management support sustainable with structural institutional changes, better aligning with other research services in the research management ecosystem, further exploring disciplinary RDM solutions and guidance, evaluating the effectiveness of data stewardship in both qualitative and quantitative ways, professionalising data stewardship as a well recognized career path and so on. These are all questions we have and we will carry them onwards in the coming year(s).

What a year! Research Data Services contributions to TU Delft in 2020

Authors: Connie Clare, Ashley Cryan, Egbert Gramsbergen, Jan van der Heul, Paula Martinez Lavanchy, Eric Rumondor, Madeleine de Smaele, Marta Teperek, Yan Wang, Eirini Zormpa*

* with contributions of all team members of the Research Data Services team at TU Delft Library


The first quarter of each year is the time to reflect on the key achievements of the past year. Each service department within the TU Delft Library is encouraged to make such a reflection, and in particular, think about achievements especially relevant to each faculty at TU Delft. This list is then used as input for discussion points with the faculty leaders.

Below you can find the key achievements of the Research Data Services team in 2020, grouped by TU Delft faculties.

Highlights which apply to all faculties 

4TU.ResearchData

4TU.ResearchData has been upgraded to a new repository platform, with new sought-after functionalities: restricted access, integration with GitHub for software publishing, improved statistics, which have been highlighted in a short video animation. 4TU.ResearchData has also celebrated its 10th year anniversary, which attracted ~150 online attendees from all over the world.

In addition, there was a soft-launch of the 4TU.ResearchData Community, which has since welcomed more than 50 online members. Community programming includes one-to-one engagement, monthly working group meetings, blogs, and a monthly newsletter. Three community-led working groups have been established by data stewards from TUD, TU/e and UT: FAIR and Reproducible code (led by Nicolas Dintzner); Privacy and GDPR (lead by Santosh Ilamparuthi); and, Engagement and Education (led by Yan Wang) .

Policy development

All PhD candidates who started on/after 1 January 2020 will have their Data Management Plans (DMPs) as part of the go/no-go.

TU Delft has also revised the data management plan template to make creation of DMPs more cost-efficient for researchers. TU Delft template has been approved by NWO which means that researchers can use the very same template to comply with TU Delft’s as well as NWO’s requirements. In 2021, the DMP tool will be further integrated with other university systems: data storage request system and privacy register.

The TU Delft Research Software Policy and Guidelines have been approved by the Cvb on the 16 February 2021. The policy aims at facilitating the workflow for publishing research software and recognizing the contribution of researchers to open source software projects. The communication and implementation of the TU Delft Research Software policy and guidelines will start in April 2021.  In order to allow researchers to easily publish and get credit for their research software and to provide management information and statistics on the number of software projects published by TU Delft researchers, 4TU.ResearchData will be integrated with GitLab in 2021.

Training

TU Delft library has created an ambitious Vision for Research Data & Software management training at TU Delft and is working hard to implement it. This is a collaborative effort that involves data stewards, DCC and researchers.

In 2020, TU Delft library has closely worked with TU Delft graduate school to embed research data management in the Doctoral Education programme. We are proud to say that since 2020, Research Data Management is part of the Research Skills in the programme. TU Delft Library in collaboration with the data stewards have created the “Research Data Management 101” course for PhD candidates at TU Delft. The roll out of the course started in October 2021 and it is part of the Graduate School Doctoral Education programme. 

Furthermore, TU Delft library together with the data stewards and DCC provide on a regular basis the “Software Carpentry workshops”. These workshops are live coding sessions that cover the core basic skills needed to work reproducibly with code. During 2019 – 2020,  two hundred students and researchers have joined the workshops (led by Paula Martinez Lavanchy and Esther Plomp). The workshops are part of the Graduate School Doctoral Education programme. Data Stewards from all the Faculties have been essential in establishing and running the Software and Data Carpentry workshops. Six data stewards are now certified instructors from The Carpentries.

In 2021, the Research Data Services will continue the implementation of the Vision for Research Data & Software management training at TU Delft, and in particular, we are planning to create and to roll out a personal data & GDPR course for PhD candidates and start organising Code Refinery workshops, which will focus on FAIR software and working reproducibly with code.

Faculty-specific highlights

The highlights below are specific to each faculty and are about the achievements which happened thanks to a collaboration with TU Delft Library.

Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment  

  • Together with the Library and the IDE faculty, took the lead in establishing the Digital Humanities community at TU Delft 
  • Was awarded dedicated support (competitive basis) of the Digital Competence Center at TU Delft (6-month dedicated support by Data Manager and Research Software Engineer) to work on a project focused on identifying challenges and opportunities for the implementation of FAIR principles within research outputs generated by the Delft Digital Humanities and Historical GIS communities 
  • Collaborated with staff members of the Digital Competence Center to host a 15-person online workshop, “Python Essentials for GIS Learners”, to help researchers build basic skills to work (explore, analyse, visualise and version control) programmatically with geospatial data through social coding
  • Organized two “data carpentry for social sciences” workshops, where 14 (from 38) researchers from ABE faculty joined. The faculty graduate school (Inge Meulenberg, the Executive Secretary of the faculty Graduate School) has shown interest in that the library offers this workshop more often. TU Delft Library is creating an alliance with Leiden university to offer “data carpentry for social sciences” workshops on a regular basis and in a sustainable manner, hoping that it helps to cover the demand from ABE

Faculty of Industrial Design  

  • Together with the Library and the ABE faculty, took the lead in establishing the Digital Humanities community at TU Delft 
  • The dataset by the faculty Data Champion, Natalia Romero Herrera, was featured on the 4TU.ResearchData Community platform: Monitoring obesity patients with innovative technologies

Faculty of Civil Engineering and Geosciences  

  • The faculty data steward took the leading role in the implementation, onboarding and oversight of data managers at TU Delft. Not only the Faculty has already two dedicated data managers at departmental level, but in addition, the faculty data steward acted as daily supervisor of data managers at the central, university level
  • The faculty played a leading role in emphasising the importance of management information for proper recognition of good data management practices 
  • Was awarded dedicated support (competitive basis) of the Digital Competence Center at TU Delft (6-month dedicated support by Data Manager and Research Software Engineer) to work on two projects focused on developing a Graphical User Interface for an automated risk-mitigation tool for construction projects, and scoping and executing efficient and FAIR solutions for handling, storage and sharing of large datasets of rainfall simulations across the continent of Africa
  • Has the most Data Management Plans created in 2020 
  • Showed high interest from researchers to join the Software Carpentry workshops (37 from 201 participants, in third place after 3mE and applied science) 
  • Published the most datasets of all TU Delft faculties (27% of data publications are from CEG)

Faculty of Electronic Engineering, Mathematics and Computer Science  

  • In collaboration with the 4TU.ResearchData, the data steward took the lead in establishing best practices for handling restricted data (data access committee) and made substantial contributions to the Privacy and GDPR working group of the data stewards within the 4TU.Federation. This worked has been showcased on the 4TU.ResearchData community platform: Development of a Data Access Committee
  • The data steward made significant contributions to the dedicated national course on data privacy (in collaboration with 4TU.ResearchData and RDNL, and led by the Data Protection Officer of the EUR) 
  • The dataset by Jan van Gemert has been the top downloaded dataset in TU Delft in 2020: Technology in Motion Tremor Dataset: TIM-Tremor (715 total downloads) 
  • The Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Mathematics & Computer Science has also uploaded the biggest dataset in 2020: https://doi.org/10.4121/uuid:cb751e3e-3034-44a1-b0c1-b23128927dd8 “APIUsageDataset” is almost 1TB in size

Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management  

  • In collaboration with the Library, the data steward has led the development of an interactive research reproducibility game, ReproJuice
  • Has the most Data Management Plans created per employee 
  • Second most downloaded dataset from TU Delft in 2020:  Covid-19 Lockdown Preferences (126 total downloads) (Caspar Chorus)
  • The data steward has provided substantive feedback to the revised version of the data management plan template at TU Delft

Faculty of Applied Sciences  

  • In collaboration with the Library, the faculty data steward took a leading role in the organisation of Carpentry Workshops at TU Delft 
  • Was awarded dedicated support (competitive basis) of the Digital Competence Center at TU Delft (6-month dedicated support by Data Manager and Research Software Engineer) to work  on increasing the visibility of the software package for an in-house electronic structure machine learning code, and developing a fast, interactive visualisation and analysis tool for multidimensional datasets that is embedded inside a Jupyter Notebook, with a modular plug-in support for generic input formats and metadata 
  • For the second year in a row (2019-2020), two of the faculty data champions, Raúl Ortiz-Merino and Marcel van der Broek, in collaboration with the Library, have organised a Genomic Data Carpentry workshop
  • Anton Akhmerov was part of the working group that drafted the TU Delft Research Software Policy and guidelines. He was one of the initiators of this work and his view has been crucial to incorporate the researchers perspective 
  • Together with the Library and the ICT, the data steward took a leading role in the roll out of electronic lab notebooks at TU Delft.

Faculty of Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering 

  • Exemplary faculty with regards to stimulating faculty engagement with the Open Science Programme (particularly through the outreach conducted by the data steward) 
  • Exemplary approach to training PhD candidates on completing a DMP, with an evaluation/check-in meeting happening several months after the initial DMP drafting 
  • The data steward made a significant contribution to the programme committee of the Openness and Commercialisation conference in December 2020 
  • The data steward facilitated the Coding Assistant & Research Software Engineer Pilot in collaboration with the library
  • High interest from researchers to join the Software Carpentry workshops (44 from 201 participants, most interest from the entire TU Delft)
  • The data sharing story by Tom Dijkhuis and Max Ligtenberg was highlighted on the 4TU.ResearchData community platform: Making OperationAIR Data FAIR
  • Together with AE, the faculty which published 2nd most datasets (13% of all datasets published at TUD)
  • The data steward has provided substantive feedback to the revised version of the data management plan template at TU Delft
  • Together with the Library and the ICT, the data steward took a leading role in the roll out of electronic lab notebooks at TU Delft.

Faculty of Aerospace Engineering

  • Significant contribution from the data steward in engaging researchers in the Open Science community / Data champions. The number of data champions has been doubled during 2020. 
  • Together with 3mE, the faculty which published 2nd most datasets (13% of all datasets published at TUD)
  • The faculty data steward worked with the TU Delft Research Data Services team to initiative a collaboration between 4TU.ResearchData and AIAA Aeroelastic Community
  • The faculty data steward provided substantive feedback on the data management policy for PhD candidates at TU Delft

A Vision for 21st-Century Scholarly Collections: a report for the Delft University of Technology Library

Like nearly all university libraries, TU Delft faces challenges in managing its journal collection. Contemporary collection management requires juggling multiple issues – keeping the collection dynamic and responsive to faculty needs; championing Open Access; providing the library with a sense of mission; and, crucially, making sure this is all within every-tightening financial boundaries.

Recognising the multifaceted nature of this problem, we are TU Delft Library worked with consultants Information Power to produce ‘A Vision for 21st-Century Scholarly Collections: a report for the Delft University of Technology Library.’

The report sets out a long-term vision for how we can accelerate the drive to cost-constrained full and immediate open access. It suggests three particular aims

  1. achieve 100% cost-constrained Open Access for TU Delft authored research;
  2. critically review the money and time currently spent on reading and publishing in journals, and effectively repurpose the savings;
  3. improve researcher engagement and our open access publishing platform and services.

The report also includes the implementation plan needed to meet these aims. Some of which we have already started, but many require initiation. Indeed, we will shortly have a vacancy open for a Collections Manager to help deliver this vision.

Some of the specific elements on the plan include

  • increase the proportion of our outputs made available through green Open Access,
    because the price growth for gold Open Access is currently unsustainable
  • invite researchers to take steps to change the way they disseminate their research outputs
    in order to support the work of the library
  • Make the results of the annual appraisal and review of subscriptions available to faculty and the university leadership, and to other universities via SURF.
  • Craft a professional publishing strategy to inform the evolution of our open platform and other services so they can deliver excellent user experiences, quality content, and revenue at competitive prices and in alignment with university mission.
  • Develop a library dashboard to act as an evidence base about how its budget is invested and the cost of open access support

We look forward to working locally in the university, nationally with Dutch institutions and internationally with dynamic consortia to bring this vision into being. We note the encouraging advances made by Dutch colleagues and by international groups in the area, and very much look forward to being part of that.

Open Science Programme: Reflecting and Looking forward

At the beginning of 2021, the TUD Open Science Programme team got together to reflect on 2020 and plan and prepare for 2021.

Key takeaways:

  • 🤗 The TUD Open Science Programme team liked and learnt to be adaptive and flexible in 2020
  • 🤝 The ways we work together- with each other, with our research and teaching communities, with other partners- needs refinement and improvement.
  • 💡 We have many exciting ideas and plans for the coming year and beyond! Here, we share our 2021 work plan, and some of the ideas within and beyond it to open them for feedback and contributions.

Reflecting on 2020

The past year has no doubt been one full of unexpected challenges and changes – for this, we asked the team to reflect on the following 4 questions (“4Ls”):

  • What did we like?
  • What did we learn?
  • What did we lack?
  • What did we long for?

2020 marked the beginning of TU Delft having a dedicated programme and team to work towards open science. We liked getting to know each other within the team and the opportunities to embark on new ideas together. The Programme is ambitious and covers many areas, but meetings (e.g. the thematic sessions) and platforms (e.g. a dedicated Microsoft Teams space) kept us informed, and we demonstrated our flexibility and resilience in these trying times.

The pandemic meant that we had to continuously learn: new ways of doing meetings, communicating clearly and efficiently online, overcoming fears and celebrating small successes. In this first year of the Programme, it was particularly important that we explored what open science means to the diverse TU Delft community: “open science isn’t an isolated thing” – it is vital that the Programme remains connected to the rest of TU Delft.

Nevertheless, the road ahead is long. We lacked sufficient communication resources to bring us closer to researchers, teachers, students and staff. There is also still plenty of room for improvement and learning when it comes to us working more efficiently and closer together, we should work to build operational structures, clear responsibilities and processes, and more transparency in our decision-making processes.

We longed for more clarity for the future, in particular, visualisations of inter-dependencies between themes and projects and a common roadmap forward. And above all, laughter and a beer/coffee in-person with our colleagues, a walk on campus – a sense of community.

Our plans for 2021 and beyond 

We are very excited to share the TUD Open Science Programme work plan for 2021

In the spirit of sharing our thoughts and enabling feedback and participation, we took turns to share some of our nascent ideas, either in the work plan or being incubated potentially for the future, in the form of open canvases. The open canvas is “a way of clarifying ideas and encouraging us to think strategically about project goals, plans and resources we’ll need”. It is adapted from the business/lean canvas, but specifically for community-based projects with lots of community contributions. 

The Open Canvas, from the Mozilla Open Leadership training series.

We took turns to give 3-min lightning talks to present our canvases, and each of these is followed by a 3-min Q&A session. In total, we heard and gave feedback to over 10 ideas from our colleagues. 

  • Citizen Science support infrastructure: A dynamic support infrastructure for TUD researchers and support staff to exchange knowledge, expertise and services to run citizen science projects
  • Social media/article-level metrics: Alternative metrics for TU Delft OPEN articles that allows researchers and teachers to monitor and report their outputs’ impact
  • Enhanced publications: Technology implementation that will allow TU Delft OPEN authors to share more of the richness of their output and stimulate reuse and innovation
  • Geospatial data pilot: A digital platform and protocols to allow researchers working with geospatial data to share their data and collaborate better 
  • Integration between 4TU.ResearchData and GitLab: Technical implementation to allow research software engineers and researchers who write code to register and publish their software more easily and faster
  • A pool of teachers: Teaching and training capacity to enable the TUD library and Open Science Programme team to deliver more high-quality courses
  • Increasing programme coherence: exploring new events and opportunities to encourage more knowledge exchange and collaborations within the Open Science Programme team
  • Software availability: An online overview of tools with user reviews and comments to help TUD staff and student choose the right tool for the right task quickly and easily
  • Transitioning courses to an open format: Projects to help lecturers develop open education skills to make their courses more accessible, participatory and high quality.
  • Open Research Calendar: A community-powered shared calendar that helps event organisers and potential participants keep track of open research events
  • Open Science Programme advisory group: A formalised pathway for the Open Science Programme team to include TUD members in their plans and decisions, and for enthusiastic members of the community to participate in the Open Science Programme

Thanks to everyone who took the time to prepare the canvases, we had a good overview of many up-and-coming ideas from all across the Programme, and the presenters also got useful questions, feedback and connections that will hopefully help refine and potentially advance our ideas. 

We look forward to a productive year ahead!

Towards better efficiency – integrating data management plans with institutional systems

Image by ar130405 from Pixabay

Authors and contributors: 

DMPonline team: Ray Carrick, Magdalena Drafiova, Patricia Herterich, Marta NicholsonTU Delft team: Gert de Boom, Arie Braat,  Alastair Dunning, Irene Haslinger, Kees den Heijer, Masha Rudneva (project lead), Mark Schenk, Madeleine de Smaele, Marta Teperek, Marlou Veloo, Kees Vuik, Yan Wang


We are very pleased to announce a kick off of our collaboration between TU Delft and the Digital Curation Centre’s DMPonline aiming to integrate data management plans with TU Delft’s institutional GDPR registry system and storage allocation system. This project has been funded by SURF as impulse funding to support institutional Digital Competence Centers. While our work focuses on TU Delft in the first place, we aim to make our findings and results re-usable by many!

Read on to find out more about the specific goals of our project and also how to be kept up to date with our work.

Why integrating data management plans?

Funders require grant-winning researchers to write Data Management Plans (DMPs) to facilitate good data management practices. Moreover, the requirements imposed by the European Guidelines on Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) mean that research institutions increasingly require researchers to produce DMPs to support safe handling of personal data. Some institutions also have internal workflows of privacy assessment or ethics approval where data management activities are often taken into account..

Thus, DMPs already contain rich information about research projects – data collection and processing, anticipated storage needs etc. Unfortunately, this information is not effectively re-used. As a result, researchers have to provide the same information about their research projects and data numerous times to various service providers, even within the same research institutions. 

Aim of this project 

We would like to become more efficient with regards to re-using existing information. Most Dutch research institutions, including TU Delft, use a tool called DMPonline to assist researchers in creating DMPs. DMPonline has a full-content API, which allows extraction of structured text from DMPs. This creates the possibility of re-using the information entered by researchers in DMPs in other systems. The aim of this project is exactly this: to enable the extraction of structured information directly from DMPs and to make this information re-usable to other services. 

Specifically, we want to:

  • Further integrate SURFconext, the Dutch single sign-on solution, with DMPonline
  • Integrate with TU Delft registry of personal research data 
  • Integrate with TU Delft’s storage request system
  • Create an institutional dashboard with DMP statistics

Integration between DMPonline and SURFconext

DMPonline is already connected to SURFconext for authentication purposes, but we would also like to be able to pass on some basic information about researchers (such as their faculty and departmental affiliation, as well as whether they are staff or students) to DMPonline. Having this information in DMPonline will provide numerous benefits:

  • Researchers will be able to get timely and dedicated support of their faculty data steward
  • Faculties and department will get better insight into data management practices and needs of their researchers, which can enable delivery of customised support
  • TU Delft can get a better understanding of data management needs of their students

Integration with TU Delft registry of personal research data

Due to the GDPR requirements, TU Delft needs to maintain a registry of personal research data processing. Information about processing of research data is already collected in DMPs. However, TU Delft’s registry for personal research data is currently not automatically retrieving information from DMPs. Any additions to the registry have to be done manually, which means that the same information which was already provided in the DMP, needs to be re-entered in the registry. We would like to increase the efficiency of the process by automating extracting relevant information from DMPs and adding it to the TU Delft registry of personal data processing.

Integration with TU Delft storage request system

TU Delft, similarly to many other research institutions, provides researchers with network drives to store research data. To request storage, researchers are asked to complete a form asking them details about who they are and also about their research project. However, this information is already available in DMPs. Therefore, as part of this project we would like to integrate DMPs with TU Delft’s storage request system. In that way, if a researcher indicates in the DMP that they would like to store their research data on a TU Delft network drive, this request, together with important information about that research project (the type of data, the volume of data, project duration), could automatically create request for storage with TU Delft’s ICT support. As a result, researchers will see immediate benefits of starting their projects with a DMP (storage provided and less forms to fill in). In addition, TU Delft ICT will receive richer information about research projects and the data stored on network drives, which will help with data governance and maintenance of ICT infrastructure. 

Create a dashboard with DMP statistics

Finally, we would also like to create a dashboard with DMP statistics, which could provide basic information such as:

  • Number of DMPs created by faculty, department, staff and students in a given time period – this would help us monitor the uptake of our data policies
  • Overview of tools and storage options used by researchers – this would help us understand the needs for tooling and storage among our research community
  • Projections for data storage needs at TU Delft – this would provide our ICT department with important insights about the forecasted storage needs
  • Projections for the use of 4TU.ResearchData – this would help 4TU.ResearchData repository managers understand the future demands for long-term data preservation and sharing
  • Number of DMPs for projects working with confidential datasets (and the types of confidential data researchers work with) – this would help TU Delft get better insight into security matters and needs across the campus.

How to get involved?

We can easily imagine that TU Delft is not the only institution who would be interested in better re-using information in data management plans. Therefore, we would like as many of you as possible to benefit from this endeavour.

Our plans for sharing the results with the community are:

  • SURFconext integration changes will be available to all Dutch institutions using DMPonline and SURFconext to authenticate – they will all automatically benefit. 
  • The API scripts will be made public on GitHub. 
  • This work will be also communicated via:
  • We will organise two webinars where anyone interested in knowing more about this work will be able to join and ask questions:
    • Mid-through the project (June/July 2021)
    • End of the project (December 2021)

Would you like to stay up to date?

If you would like to be posted about our work (receive announcement about the blog post and events), please inform the project leader (Masha Rudneva, m.rudneva@tudelft.nl) and you will be added to our distribution list.

Towards user-driven design for an institutional software catalogue

Software is a crucial part of most researchers’ and educators’ daily lives: we use software to collect and analyse data, curate literature to read, write and edit papers, prepare teaching materials, grade assignments, etc. ICT (Information and Communications Technologies) and support teams at institutions realised these needs and began making software available for everyone in the organizations to use through purchasing, serving and maintaining of institutional copies of software. This saves researchers the hassle and money of buying their own licenses and updating the software, and at the same time lowers the risk of data and security breaches.

As the number and diversity of software used by researchers grow, these “institutional software catalogues” become bigger and harder to maintain and navigate. With modern search engines, in some cases, researchers would rather search for and buy their own copy of the software than trying to find an institutional license. There is a need to rethink how these catalogues can be designed to offer unique values to its users (beyond what a search engine can) and to lower the workload for the maintenance and support teams.

As a first part of our design process, it is vital to understand and map what users’ needs are: how do researchers discover, select, install and use software for their research tasks? What are the pain points within that process, and how could it have been better? We decided to set up a value proposition design workshop with researchers (based on the Strategyzer’s value proposition design canvas and the accompanying book) with researchers with the aim of clarifying our understanding of their needs.

The Value Propostion Canvas from Strategyzer AG and Strategyzer.com – download and see terms of use.

We worked with 8 participants from different faculties. In the 1-hour workshop, we first asked them to individually write down their jobs, pains and gains with regards to discovering, selecting, installing and using software in their research. They were also asked to rank their most important job, most extreme pain and most essential gain.  

As they wrote down and told the group their experiences and thoughts, it becomes clear that some of these experiences, pains and gains are common between the researchers. We share a summary of the workshop output below. 

We worked with 8 participants from different faculties. In the 1-hour workshop, we first asked them to individually write down their jobs, pains and gains with regards to discovering, selecting, installing and using software in their research. They were also asked to rank their most important job, most extreme pain and most essential gain.  

As they wrote down and told the group their experiences and thoughts, it becomes clear that some of these experiences, pains and gains are common between the researchers. We share a summary of the workshop output below. 

Researchers’ jobs, pains and gains in finding, selecting, installing and using software for their research.

Our user profile: jobs, pains and gains 

Finding the right software to use is time-consuming and difficult 

Most workshop participants find it difficult to effectively find and compare between software alternatives, particularly for discipline-specific activities. Researchers often rely on some colleagues’ and field experts’ recommendations, and in many cases, researchers resort to trial-and-error to find the most suitable software. There is a lack of a clear institutional point of contact for software-related issues and advice.

Compatibility issues complicate this task: researchers must make sure that the chosen software is compatible with their collaborators’ operating systems as well as their own, and that the collaborators also have the software license. Other considerations include cost and whether the software is open source – it will be nice to have easily accessible information on free and/or open-source alternatives.

Finally, some participants have trouble finding up-to-date information on the institutional licenses that TU Delft has, while others are not sure how the licenses work.  

Installation is not always straight-forward 

Remote work during the pandemic means that some researchers cannot access equipment in their offices and need to use their private laptops at home. This makes installing software more challenging as researchers can no longer just go to ICT service-points directly for support. It is also unclear whether or how one can use institutional licenses on private machines.

Additionally, in our quick raise-of-hand exercise during the workshop, half the researchers (4 out of 8) regularly use Linux. Participants reflected that it is typically more difficult to obtain information regarding Linux-compatible software alternatives or support – there is a need to evaluate how to make our resources and services more friendly for Linux users.

A strong need for reliable data storage and handling solutions 

While TU Delft provides and supports multiple solutions for data storage, we need to explore how we can demonstrate the reliability and user-friendliness of our data storage solutions and build trust. 

Researchers also want to be able to collaborate and share data and findings, and use software that can facilitate these collaborations.

Our solutions should relief pain and create gains 

This user profile that we’ve co-built with our users helps us prioritise the development of features and services, to focus on tackling the most extreme pains and creating essential gains. For example: 

  • Provide clear, easily comparable information about operating system compatibility, available licenses or their pricing, data security and privacy, etc.
  • Make sure researchers can access help quickly when needed
  • Offer ways to provide feedback, e.g. when users come across outdated information
The workshop’s output is summarised in the user profile on the left, the right shows a possible value proposition design for our solution, with direct reference to the user profile. The value proposition canvas used is based on the original from Strategyzer AG and Strategyzer.com.

This is only the beginning! We would like to run a few more of these workshops, perhaps with researchers from other faculties and career stages, to build a more complete user profile.   

To create a sustainable solution, we also need to make sure that not only users’ needs are met, but that everyone involved in designing, implementing and maintaining the solution would have the expertise, capacity and resources to do so effectively. For this, we hope to run similar workshops with different stakeholders involved, to also understand their tasks, challenges and wants, and ultimately to design a user-driven, sustainable solution. 

Lessons learnt 

Overall, we have succeeded in taking a first step towards the goal of bringing end users closer to our research support work. Here, we share a few lessons that we learnt throughout the design and planning of this workshop: 

  • It is crucial to ask the right questions, so that participants can recall specific experiences when thinking about jobs, pains and gains. 
    • We discussed both what we want and do not want to help us scope the question, e.g. we wanted to focus on participants’ experience with finding technological solutions (e.g. data transfer, storage and compute), but not with human solutions (e.g. someone not replying to their emails) 
    • We gave examples of what we wanted for each of the jobs, pains and gains; we asked participants to be as specific as possible 
  • Researchers’ time is extremely valuable – we thought hard about what they would get in return: 
    • We primarily approached members of faculty PhD boards and councils; part of their role is to represent the PhD students within their faculties, and this then is an opportunity that fits within their role 
    • We also promised to keep them in the loop and acknowledge their help in the output 
    • Moving onwards, we think it is important to explore more, different and better ways to reward contributors 
  • Stakeholders’ expectation management is challenging 
    • Users are not the only stakeholders- we need to understand the concerns and challenges faced by solution providers in order to design a sustainable solution 
    • This design approach and type of exercise can be foreign to many; we still need to learn how to get our stakeholders’ buy-in to maximise the value we can get from this process and output  

Please let us know in the comments section if you have similar experiences – we would love to hear and learn from you. 

Workshop contributors

  • Participants: 
    • Agnes Broer (LR) 
    • Stephan de Hoop (CiTG) 
    • Mariska Koning (CiTG) 
    • Annika Krieger (TNW) 
    • Yuxin Liu (LR) 
    • Sven Pfeiffer (LR) 
    • Stefania Usai (TNW) 
    • Hongpeng Zhou (3mE) 
  • Design and implementation:
    • Meta Keijzer-de Ruijter 
    • Masha Rudneva 
    • Emmy Tsang 

A Possible Funding Programme for the Netherlands’ Research Data Landscape

Marjolein Drent (Uni Twente, 4TU.ResearchData), Iza Witkowska (Eindhoven University of Technology, 4TU.ResearchData), Alastair Dunning (Delft University of Technology, 4TU.ResearchData)

The detailed NPOS report ‘Eindrapportage – Verkenning nationaal datalandschap’ highlights both the richness and the fragmentation of the Netherlands research data landscape. While the Netherlands has achieved much in terms of data management, the fragmentation reduces its chance of operating at maximum effectiveness.

Eastern Scheldt Storm Surge Barrier – Part of the Delta Works
By Vladimír Šiman (online) – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4513210

In particular, it leads to overlap and inefficiency; it leaves the Netherlands without a clear single point of contact for engaging internationally; and it means that the opportunity for sustainable national approaches to specific problems is not being grasped.

This paper follows up on this report by making an explicit suggestion to develop a funding programme for the Netherlands research data community. It takes the NPOS paper a step further by proposing a few key areas to focus on (based on a longer blogpost on the issue).

A Proposal for a Funding Programme

This proposal involves inviting existing high-level bodies (eg. NPOS steering group, perhaps led by the  NWO) to initiate and fund a programme of work. This programme would tackle the key areas in the research data landscape where consolidation or innovation is required. The programme call would ask for project proposals to specifically address each of the key areas identified.

Applicants would have to work in consortia. Applicants would be required to make a significant contribution (e.g. staff time, resources) and indicate how the outputs will be made sustainable.

A crucial aspect of this approach would be the creation of a Programme Committee that can identify the key areas to be addressed. These areas need to be themes that require urgent attention and cross-institutional working to solve them.

The themes also need to be representative of all relevant stakeholders in the Netherlands. In identifying themes and funding projects, such a programme also needs to be careful not to only empower strong institutions and advanced disciplines. Difference in maturity level in communities and institutions needs to be appreciated.

This paper therefore suggests the creation of a Programme Committee to oversee this funding programme. It should include representatives from local and thematic DCCs and other relevant stakeholders (e.g. SURF, NeSC, DTL, DANS, 4TU.ResearchData). A Programme Coordinator could also be appointed to oversee and align the projects, and also act as a national contact point for international partners and initiatives.

Strengths of this approach:

  • Clear identification of the key issues that need to be tackled; national consensus on these key issues
  • Gives clear national statement of the importance of broader topic of research data management, and willingness to address it
  • Invitation to create consortia allows multiple stakeholders to be involved
  • The programme could ask applicants to include their own (financial or in-kind) contribution to help ensure institutional commitment to projects 
  • Proposals could also identify (non-funded) partners outside the Netherlands to be part of the consortia. This would help with a strategic link with developments internationally 
  • Does not require establishment of new top-heavy organisations (although the Programme Committee would need to be carefully organised to ensure all stakeholders interests were represented)

Conditions for the success of this approach:

  • Governance (eg selection and oversight of projects)  of any such programme must have trust of stakeholders nationally, and reflect a wide range of interests.
  • Consortia must demonstrate good business planning to ensure outputs are sustainable.
  • Applicability for all scientific domains i.e. also those who are not so well-developed in the field of FAIR / data management  should be addressed
  • Involvement of research communities needs to be secured.

Weaknesses and risks in this approach: 

  • Would require significant financial investment. 
  • Sustaining outputs post project funding is always challenging; engaging third parties who are not part of the original project funding is also difficult
  • Existing players and alliances may have an advantage over younger organisations; risk that projects will be led by stronger and more established organisations
  • Too much focus on research data themes may distance the projects from specific academic questions and everyday scientific research
  • Limited commitment of important stakeholders because of other priorities such as establishment of local and thematic DCCs and participation in other calls.
  • Sophisticated legal models would need to be created to ensure the outputs from the projects were openly usable while still offering the project participants to derive a functioning business model.     

Late in 2020, SURF released a call for proposals  / (English version) that has some overlap with this  approach. It offers funding to work on specific research data topics that have been agreed by the SURF RDM Regie Groep  to be of importance. However, unlike the above scenario, the SURF call is only more individual institutions to work with SURF on smaller projects. The total funding available in the SURF call (650k) would need significantly higher to build new consortia and sustainable outputs. 

The NWO is also planning a call for thematic DCCs. How this call evolves will have an influence on the proposal suggested here. 

Key Areas for Investment

A key role of the Programme Committee would be to identify the key themes that require the programmatic approach suggested here. This should be complemented by an open, national discussion to inform these decisions.

The proposed key areas to tackle are:

  1. Building a Cultural and Technical Infrastructure for Confidential Data
  2. Encouragement for discipline-specific guidance and standards
  3. Creating a Web of Incentives
  4. Building Capacity for Training
  5. Transparent Governance / Coordinated Action
  6. Open Infrastructures for Research

A longer blogpost on these 6 key issues to address for research data management in the Netherlands is also available 

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!