Category: Open Science

Open Science is like a buffet*: take what you can and what benefits you now – come back for more!

Author: Esther Plomp

This overview highlights resources that are available for TU Delft researchers in their Open Science journey. Please see the poster for the full visual representation with the links embedded.

Open Data

Data Steward & Data Champions

Research Support TU Delft Library

Digital Competence Center (Data Managers)

Managing and Sharing Data in 2021

Policy: Research Data at TU Delft & Faculties

Open Software

GitHub/GitLab (& 4TU.ResearchData/Zenodo integration)

Support from the Digital Competence Center (Research Software Engineers)

Training: Carpentries/Code Refinery

TU Delft Research Software Policy facilitates sharing of Research Software

Open Engagement

Engagement is part of the TU Delft Core values (DIRECT)

‘Outreach and public engagement are core elements’ (TU Delft strategic priorities 2022)

Online discussion and presentation platforms such as the Virtual Science Forum

Open Education

A new policy on Open Educational Resources will be ‘a starting to point to make Open Education the default approach for teaching at TU Delft’ – TU Delft Strategic Priorities 2022

MOOCs / Open Course Ware

Open Publishing

82% Open Access

TU Delft Open Publishing

TU Delft Open Access Fund (up to €2000 for gold open access)

Publishing deals (check the Journal Browser)

Support for sustainable publishing (SciPost)

How to publish Plan S compliant?

You share, we take care (Taverne)

Open Participation

‘There is no open science if science is not open to all’ (Whitaker and Guest 2020)

Open Science Community TU Delft (@OSCDelft)

Diversity and Inclusion at TU Delft

Citizen Science

Open Methods

Electronic lab Notebooks (RSpace/eLABjournal)

protocols.io (PLOS)

Open Evaluation

‘Open science and education can play an important role in improving the quality of our work and stimulating the use of our knowledge and findings by others’ – TU Delft Recognition & Rewards Perspective 2021 – 2024

The Dutch position paper Room for everyone’s talent aims to recognise a wider range of academic contributions

Strategy Evaluation Protocol (SEP) – 2021-2027 has Open Science as a main assessment criteria

Open Hardware

Open Hardware Community Delft (@DelftOpenHW)

More information:

TU Delft Open Science Programme 2020-2024

tudelft.nl/open-science

the-turing-way.netlify.app

openlifesci.org

*The term Open Science Buffet has been coined by Christina Bergmann in 2019.

Time to re-think the divide between academic and support staff

Credit: geralt, Pixabay, CC0

By Marta Teperek, Maria Cruz and Danny Kingsley

We are pleased to announce that our article “Time to re-think the divide between academic and support staff” has been just published: https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-022-01081-8. The article speaks about the negative consequences of the divide between academic and professional support staff, and argues that this divide no longer makes sense as it is not conducive to a successful and effective research process.

By publishing this article, we hope to raise awareness about these problems, start discussions within the community and start identifying the steps which have to be taken to stop the divide. We would welcome your comments and reflections on the topic.

We also wanted to use this opportunity to express our gratitude to Jeff Love, Melanie Imming, Alastair Dunning and Shalini Kurapati for their crucial input and support throughout the process of conceiving this article. Their comments and reflections on the early drafts of the article, as well as the numerous constructive discussions we have had with them, were invaluable to us.

Finally, we also wanted to thank Connie Clare, Manuel Garcia, Hans de Jonge, Lena Karvovskaya, Esther Plomp, Diana Popa, Mark Schenk, Jeroen Sondervan, Emmy Tsang, Yasemin Turkyilmaz-van der Velden and Jose Urra for their comments and suggestions on an early draft of the manuscript.

Digital Skills for Researchers: Not only coding

Authors: Meta Keijzer-de Ruijter, Masha Rudneva

Cooking class for researchers  

Some people think that digital skills in research focus on learning how to program (Python, R, C++, MATLAB, etc.) or use digital tools to automate recurring tasks, but it entails a lot more. 

Becoming a digitally-skilled researcher requires more than ‘just’ learning to use individual tools. It is like becoming a star chef: It does not suffice to know how to use the different cooking appliances (knife, mixer, oven, stove, etc). You also need to know how to run a kitchen efficiently, making sure all prepared ingredients for the dish come together on a plate at the right time without mixing up steps in the recipe that affect the final quality of the dish. To summarize, it is essential to consider, plan and prepare all steps and aspects of the research process workflow at the beginning of each research project.

The potential drawbacks  

Implementing best practices in using digital tools requires a significant change in workflow to achieve efficiency and good quality outcomes. If not, code and other scientific outputs can be lost or become unusable by others in the future. Think about the master student who had done a great research and successfully graduated. However, after the student has left, the successors cannot find or re-use the developed code and have to start from scratch. So, the valuable contribution to the project is lost, and the continuity of the work is disturbed.

Also, if researchers do not document the actions and steps during the research project, they may need to figure out things twice when it comes to publication. Reproducibility of the results largely depends on good digital skill practices. So, how could one make sure that the research artefacts remain useful for society and successors?

The Open Science community formulated four main principles or the best practices helping in this process. Those are the “FAIR” principles, which stands for “Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable”. So, let us analyze a typical life cycle of research software or code creation and see how to build FAIR principles and essential digital skills into your research project.  

What “digital skill” ingredients do you need during your project?  

At the start of a research project, it helps to have a good overview of the elements in the workflow in relation to the various stages of your project. In this section, we provide a roadmap that could help you to plan your work.  

Step 1 – Preparation Phase:    

Defining what you need to build and what tools will be used is essential.  

  • Analysis of the project requirements – What research questions do you need to answer, and what results do you want to achieve? Breaking down big questions into smaller problems/deliverables often helps in building a more modular code in the long run.
  • Investigation of the available codebases – Can you build your project on an existing platform, codebase or use available algorithms, for example, or do you have to “start from scratch”? It is often more efficient to re-use available resources, but you always need to check the licenses and conditions before using, copying or modifying the code of someone. 
  • Learning about the best practices for Research Software development – a high-level understanding of the best practices allows you to avoid the common pitfalls and makes your work more efficient.
  • Choosing the platform, programming language and the concepts for the code produced – is the last preparation step. You are now ready to start the actual work.  

Step 2 – Research project:   

Creating the code or research software is only one piece in the whole story. The other essential aspects one should consider are:    

  • Data Management – consider the best practices for data management at the beginning of the project by drawing up a Data Management Plan, which will detail how the data is structured, stored, and archived. Having a Data Management Plan will save you a lot of work and time later. Data Stewards at the faculties are available to provide you with all the support, training and information required (https://www.tudelft.nl/library/research-data-management/r/support/data-stewardship/contact
  • Backing up the code – think about the storage with periodic automated backup or set up the backup routine yourself. If you use TUDelft research drive or SurfDrive, your code and data are automatically backed up for you. If you use your laptop or external hard drive, you can lose data if the storage drive is damaged. When storing in the cloud, make sure that your credentials are secured, and you will always be able to retrieve them if forgotten.   
  • Documentation – code by itself can be great but not (re)usable by others if no documentation is attached. It might be challenging to remember and understand what the code is doing a year later. So, having proper documentation is a valuable step in making your code reusable by yourself and others.    
  • Metadata to describe your code and results – metadata can be as broad and descriptive as possible. It may contain information about the code creation (author, date, OS, configurations) and describe when and how to use it. Adding appropriate metadata can make your code more findable.  
  • Use of Version Control – this is an essential part of any research project. It allows you to see and manage changes to files over time, keep track of those modifications and ease the collaboration and co-creation of the code for you and your colleagues. The use of GitLab, GitHub or other version control systems ensures that you can always go back to the previous version of your code if something went wrong at the current state. It enhances the reproducibility of the research produced. 
  • Testing / Distribution – you should build tests into the code at various stages to make debugging easier, mitigate potential errors and ensure that you and others can use your code without errors and reproduce results.   
  • Security and Privacy – you often need to build some security features or choose the framework with the built-in security to keep classified and sensitive data well-protected and keep vulnerabilities out of your system.  

Step 3 – Publishing and Sharing

Now, the code has been built, and the first results are obtained. It is a perfect moment to celebrate, but this is not the end of the story. Now think about the sharing and archiving of your results. If you would like the community to use your results, your code should have a license, be stored where others can find it, have explicit metadata attached to it and possess unique identifiers. But no worries, if you have followed the FAIR principles, you are well-covered.   

  • Licensing – Whether you want others to (re)use your code or you are thinking about patenting your software, you should choose a license for it. The most common software license models are Public domain, Permissive, LGPL, Copyleft and Proprietary – they are different types of licenses varying from completely open to fully restricted. 

Often if you are developing software openly, e.g. on GitHub/GitLab, the advice is to choose a license at the beginning. This also has implications for registering the software as per the Research Software policy. 

  • Citations – Citing the sources you used acknowledges and gives credit to the authors. It also allows others to learn more about the previous work your project is built upon. To make your code more citable, it is worth adding a citation file (CFF) to your repository (https://citation-file-format.github.io/)
  • Publishing – there are many platforms on which you can share and publish your code, e.g. GitHub or SourceForge. Publishing and sharing your project on these platforms can attract collaboration and increase visibility. Please remember that the code or any digital object should have a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) to make it easier to find or cite. If the data/code cannot be shared, you can still share the metadata in a repository so that others can find your project and request access to it.  
  • Archiving – when the project is over, you may want to archive your code in a repository to access it in the future. Code can be archived at, for example, 4TU.ResearchData or at Zenodo. 

Digitization brings a lot of opportunities to researchers to do more advanced research and collaborate with others. But it requires adjustments to the workflow, development of a common language and learning skills to effectively use new tools that come available. The good news is that at TU Delft, we have training courses and excellent support available through the Digital Competence Center (DCC, https://dcc.tudelft.nl/ ) and Data Stewards that can help you run your kitchen as a star chef in the digital age. 

Summarises the areas of skills required for each of the three steps of a research project.
The three phases of a research project, and the area of skills required.

Who are we?

Meta Keijzer-de Ruijter:

Meta has a background in Chemical Engineering and Corporate Education. She spent more than 10 years in the ICT Innovation department developing digital assessment in education at TU Delft. Recently, she became a project manager of the FAIR Software project within the Open Science Program. Together with colleagues in ICT Innovation and Research Support at the Library, she set up the Digital Competence Center (DCC) support team. She currently investigates the needs for digital skills for researchers.

Masha Rudneva:

Masha has got her PhD in Physics at TUDelft and recently joined the ICT department as an Innovation Analyst. She focuses on supporting researchers in challenging ICT related requests. 

It is the first in the series of blog posts in which we want to talk about the work we do to support the researchers as the Innovation Department and DCC team to reflect on the things we come across.

Behind the scenes of our new open science website

We have launched a new open science website for TU Delft (TUD)- check it out 🎊

Here, we retrace our footsteps and share some of the work behind the scenes and lessons we have learned while constructing this website. We hope that this will be helpful for open research services that are looking to build an online presence to better support and inspire their research and teaching communities.

The starting points

TU Delft has had multiple open science websites; perhaps most notably, the open science guide designed in 2017 has subsequently inspired other institutions’ open science websites. 

So why a new design? The start of the new Strategic Programme Open Science 2020-24 (OSP) represents revitalised efforts from the TUD leadership to invest in 10 areas of open science. The open science guide design was practical and straightforward but not very scalable beyond open access and data. We – the OSP team – wanted and needed a new channel to communicate with our community: one that can represent and host the diverse initiatives and opportunities arising from our work, one that we can easily refer our colleagues, from Faculty staff to librarians from other institutions, to for them to learn more about our work.

We also recognise that open science is an actively evolving and complex topic: from funders’ mandates and institutional policies to training opportunities and support personnel, there are many moving, somewhat related pieces of information that researchers, teachers, students and staff can/should learn about. We would like the new website to be an easy-to-access resource, a trusted source of information from which our community can always rely on to stay up-to-date.

Last but not least, we’d like to recognise the many open champions at TUD and showcase their work through the website. Many TUD researchers and teachers have been pushing boundaries, actively asking themselves how to be more open and inclusive with their work. The website should promote the voices of open advocates from all corners of TUD, inspire others to reflect on their ways of working and encourage discussions around open research and education practices

Telling the many stories

The second goal 👆 was particularly challenging for us: researchers and staff at TUD have varying levels of understanding in open science. The information they would like to have to practise open science would differ based on their career and research fields. 

TUD researchers and staff have different levels of engagement with open science. Avatars designed by Vitaly Gorbachev from Flaticon

To better understand our audience, their motivations for engaging with open science and the obstacles in their ways, we created four user personas together with the OSP team during 1-hour workshops. This exercise helped us reflect on our interactions with TUD researchers, teachers and staff, and helped us prioritise goals and features for the first version of the website.

One of the OSP website’s primary user persona, co-developed by the OSP team. User persona template adapted from Development Impact and You by Nesta (CC-BY-NC-SA).

Less is more

How can we design for all the different paths our users will take in their open science journeys? Our initial plan was to provide an elaborate set of interlinked resources so that users can naturally start where they find most useful (and indeed, we expect most website users to not land on the site via the homepage). Users will then be guided (e.g. through “related resources” and menus) to other pieces of content that may interest them.

A first design for the OSP website’s information architecture – very comprehensive but too complex for both users and maintainers!

A key lesson from the persona exercise and feedback from the team was that this is too overwhelming: not only for newcomers to open science who maybe don’t have a concrete idea of what open science is but also for the team that has to maintain this site. 

Marieke Roggeveen, the OSP’s former communication advisor, suggested trimming down the site to three sections that form a central narrative:

  • Define: What is open science? This section provides a gentle introduction to newcomers.
  • Apply: How can you practise open science? This section lists selected opportunities, resources and experts contact that users can read about to learn or get help on practising open science in their work. 
  • Contribute: Share your experience and inspire others to learn and follow. Sharing and learning are central to the ethos of open science, and we want to create a space for our users to do just that.

For the Apply and Contribute sections, we will build filters to enable users to find and navigate the content they are interested in quickly. Instead of putting all the services and resources we offer on the website, we can use web analytics to help refine and update the selected list in future iterations of the site.

Assembling the building blocks

Once we had identified a rough structure and critical goals, we worked with UX/UI designer Sammy de Keijne, who turned our ideas into wireframes and prototypes.

So far, all our designs are based on our understanding of and assumptions about users’ behaviours. For that reason, we needed to involve real target users in our work as soon as possible to (in)validate our assumptions and identify areas needing attention and improvement.

The design prototype of the OSP website for testing, designed by Sammy de Keijne.

We tested our interactive prototype with five users from the TUD community: researchers from different faculties and career stages and research support staff not in the OSP. We learnt a lot from seeing how they navigate through the prototype and listening to their questions and thoughts in that process.

Through this exercise, we understood that language and word choices significantly impact users’ experience, and we need to test them more carefully. For example, we initially had a heading called “open science 101”, and user testing showed that many did not understand what “101” meant. We also learnt that numbers and data intrigued and appealed to our audience.

A picture speaks a thousand words

The visual identity is like the “personality” of our website and work, and it helps set expectations, contextualise our work and create recognition. We wanted to have a distinct, coherent visual identity across our website and communication assets.

For this, we worked with visual designer Martijn van Overbruggen. Based on a mood board that we curated, Martijn built colour schemes and a graphical style that we felt represented what open science meant to us: leaves that symbolise growth, lines and circles that capture the dynamic nature of open science, a rough texture that invites refinement, vibrant colours the resonate with freshness and creativity (while still aligned with the TU Delft colour palette). 

Creating a coherent visual identity for the open science programme. Designs by Martijn van Overbruggen at WIM Ontwerpers

While we understand the power of visual illustrations, building one that is intuitive enough to understand at a glance yet captures the right amount of nuance has proven to be a huge challenge. One of our biggest challenges was to create the graphic to “define open science”: how can one showcase the fluid and contextual nature of open science with a static graphic? We went through many iterations, re-scoping, rearranging and rewording various elements, to arrive at our current version.

Our many attempts to gently introduce the audience to open science. Designs by Marieke Roggeveen, Martijn van Overbruggen, Marieke Hopley and Emmy Tsang.

Wrestling with the CMS

The TUD website’s “technical backbone” is the content management system (CMS) TYPO3. We prioritised exploring the capabilities of TYPO3 at the start of our design process. It allowed us to understand design constraints and estimate the time and resources required to implement various website elements. For example, having an interactive graphic is possible but would require additional front-end development capacity. 

Having these possibilities and constraints in mind helped keep our graphics and wireframes realistic for implementation – our colleagues at Online Solutions were able to construct the web pages based on our designs efficiently.

Feedback, feedback, feedback

With the first version of our test site online, we shared this with the OSP team for feedback. The feedback cycle at this stage was essential: fresh eyes on our work allowed us to check if we had delivered what we intended and helped us spot errors from strange layouts on mobile devices to typos.

It was vital to manage expectations, both our own and of those who contributed, at this stage: we want to go live with the site as soon as possible, without critical errors. For that, we provided instructions for giving constructive feedback and roughly parcelled the feedback we received into three categories: “easy to fix”, “hard but critical”, and “hard and for later”. This helped us prioritise the changes to implement before launch.

With our new communications advisor Marieke Hopley, we addressed some critical issues regarding the narrative and graphics on our homepage based on the feedback. We also added an “about page” to bring transparency to the open science programme. We have a list of suggested improvements for a second iteration of the site, including having Dutch pages.

Only the beginning

The launch is the first step in this journey. Becoming a trusted resource for a community will require maintenance of the site: regular updates, new stories, and more. We have to build a robust management workflow with team members to draft new content, monitor the pages for outdated materials and errors, approve edits and new pages, and implement changes. 

We also have to continue to raise awareness for the website and ensure that new and existing staff members are aware of its existence and purpose. Ultimately, we hope that the website will not only serve as a source of open science information from OSP staff, but a platform on which TUD academics, students and staff can share their knowledge and perspectives, a gateway for our community to learn about and contribute to open science. 

Acknowledgements: In addition to the people mentioned in the post, we would like to take this opportunity to thank:

  • The TUD OSP team for your ideas, feedback and patience throughout the entire process.
  • TUD data stewards and Connie Clare (Community Manager, 4TU.ResearchData) for your help and support especially during the initial brainstorming stages of this site. Your deep understanding of our target user groups had been crucial in guiding our work.
  • Members of the Open Science Community Delft who took time to help us test the design prototype.
  • TUD’s Online Solutions, especially Inge and Noor, for turing our prototype into reality and advising on the various CMS issues.

Share, Inspire, Impact: TU Delft DCC Showcase Event

Author: Ashley Cryan, Data Manager , TU Delft Digital Competence Centre

Tuesday, October 12 was a momentous day for the TU Delft Digital Competence Centre (DCC). A little more than a year after the new research support team of Data Managers and Research Software Engineers came together for the first time, the Share, Inspire, Impact: TU Delft DCC Showcase Event took place, co-hosted by the TU Delft Library’s Research Data Services team, ICT- R&D / Innovation and the TU Delft High Performance Computing Centre (DHPC). 

Researchers from across all faculties at the University joined the virtual live event, aimed at sharing results achieved and lessons learned from collaborating with members of the DCC during hands-on support of projects involving research data and software challenges. The exchange of experiences and ideas that followed was a true reflection of the ingenuity and collaborative spirit that connects and uplifts the entire TU Delft community. 

Inspiring opening words from TU Delft Library Director Irene Haslinger invited researchers, staff and representatives from academic communities like Open Science Community Delft and 4TU.ResearchData to reflect together and help distill a common vision for the future of the DCC. The DCC’s core mission is clear: to help researchers produce FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) data, improve research software, and apply suitable computing practices to increase the efficiency of the research process. Event chairperson Kees Vuik and host Meta Keijzer-de Ruijter guided the discussion based on the fundamental question, how best can researchers and support staff work together to achieve these important goals in practice? 

“In the effort to promote and support FAIR data, FAIR Software, and Open Science, everyone has a role.”
– Manuel Garcia Alvarez, TU Delft DCC

Image

Manuel Garcia Alvarez began with a presentation on the DCC working model and approach to the above question. After a year of trialling process-in-practice, the support team model is defined by four building blocks based on observed researchers’ needs: Infrastructure and Resources, Training, Hands-On Support, and Community. Researchers require sufficient access to and understanding of IT infrastructure and resources available through the University – robust computing facilities, secure data storage solutions, platforms for digital collaboration – in order to facilitate analysis workflows and achieve their research goals. The DCC support team works closely with staff in the ICT department to ensure that researchers can select, deploy, and manage computational resources properly to support their ongoing needs. Hands-on support is offered by the DCC in the form of support projects which last a maximum of six months, working closely in collaboration with research groups. This type of support blends the domain expertise of the researchers with the technical expertise of the DCC support team members to address specific challenges related to FAIR data/software and computational needs. Researchers can request this type of dedicated support by submitting an application through the DCC website (calls open several times per year).

Of course, the DCC support team came into existence as part of a broader community focused on supporting researchers’ digital needs: one that is made up of the faculty Data Stewards, ICT Innovation, Library Research Services, the DHPC, and the Library team for Research Data Management. The DCC contributes to ongoing training initiatives like Software and Data Carpentry workshops that equip researchers with basic skills to work with data and code, as well as designs custom training in the context of hands-on support provided to research groups. One such example is the “Python Essentials for GIS Learners” workshop, designed by the DCC during support of a project in ABE focused on shifting to programmatic and reproducible analysis of historical maps (the full content of this course is freely available on GitHub). 

The program featured a lively Round Table discussion between researchers who received hands-on support from the DCC and the DCC members that supported them, focusing on the DCC model of co-creation to help researchers solve complex and pressing data- and software-related challenges. Researcher panelists Omar Kammouh, Carola Hein, and Liedewij Laan shared their experience working alongside DCC members Maurits Kok, Jose Urra Llanusa, and Ashley Cryan in a spirited hour of moderated discussion. Each researcher panelist was invited first to introduce the project for which they received DCC support in the context of the challenges that inspired them to submit an application to the DCC. Then, DCC members were invited to elaborate on these challenges from their perspective and highlight the solutions implemented in each case. The DCC style of close collaboration over a period of six months was positively received by researchers who found the engagement productive and supportive of their research data management and software development process. The need to develop a kind of “common language” between members of the DCC and research group across domain and technical expertise was highlighted in several cases, and served to clarify concepts, strengthen trust and communication, and build knowledge on both sides that aided in the delivery of robust solutions. Practical benefits from the application of the FAIR principles to researchers’ existing workflows and outputs were also mentioned across cases. Collaboration with the DCC enabled researchers to share their data and software more broadly amongst direct collaborators and externally to the wider international research community. The last question of this discussion was whether Omar, Carola and Liedewij would recommend that other researchers at TU Delft apply for hands-on support from the DCC: the answer was an emphatic yes!

Attendees then had the option to join one of the four thematic breakout sessions: Community Building; Digital Skills and Training; Looking Ahead: Impactful Research Competencies of the Future; and Infrastructure, Technology and Tooling for Scientific Computing. Moderators Connie Clare and Emmy Tsang in the Community Building breakout room invited research support professionals from across universities and countries to share their experience being part of scientific communities, and found that recurring themes of knowledge sharing, inclusivity, friendship and empowerment wove throughout most people’s positive experiences. The discussion in the Digital Skills and Training room, moderated by Meta Keijzer-de Ruijter, Paula Martinez Lavancy, and Niket Agrawal, touched upon existing curricula and training programs available at TU Delft to help researchers and students alike develop strengths in fundamental digital skills like programming and version control. In the Looking Ahead room, moderators Alastair Dunning and Maurits Kok led a lively discussion on challenges related to rapidly advancing technology, and how the provision of ICT services and infrastructure solutions can avoid becoming a kind of “black box” to researchers. The Infrastructure, Technology and Tooling room, led by Jose Urra Llanusa, Kees den Heijer, and Dennis Palagin, discussed researchers’ need for IT infrastructure and technical support in the specific context of their research domain, including specialised tools and security measures that can help facilitate international collaboration. When the group came together in the main room to share summaries of each room’s discussion, the common themes of scalability, collaboration, and a balanced approach to centralised support emerged. 

“Support staff need to always work in partnership with researchers. In the future, we need both central and local DCC support and collaboration to continue learning from each other.”
Marta Teperek, Head of Research Data Services and 4TU.ResearchData at TU Delft

The closing words delivered by Rob Mudde, Vice-Rector Magnificus and Vice President Education, were a fitting end to a spirited day of reflection and discussion. Acknowledging the work of many to bring the TU Delft Digital Competence Centre into reality and its ethos as a hug of knowledge, connection and inclusivity, he stated, “As a university, we are a big community – we stand on one another’s shoulders. It’s collective work that we do. You can see how the DCC engages across disciplines to help all go forward.”

The DCC extends its warm gratitude to all those who made the “Share, Inspire, Impact DCC Showcase Event” happen, in particular event planning leads Deirdre Casella and Lauren Besselaar, and all of the panelists, speakers, session leaders, and participants who made the discussion so engaging and memorable. The team looks forward to continuing to work with researchers in the TU Delft community and building capacity toward a shared vision for the future we can all be proud of.

Visit the TU Delft | DCC YouTube playlist to view testimonials of researchers and the DCC Event aftermovie (forthcoming).

Communicating open science at TU Delft

In June, the TUD Open Science Programme (OSP) critically looked at our communication and community engagement efforts in a thematic session.

Key takeaways:

  • 📶 Use strategic communication to deliver stronger, more targeted messages to our academics, instead of overfeeding them
  • 🛣 Carefully, iteratively designed pathways allow our community to more meaningfully engage in open science
  • 👀 We hope to launch our new website in September!

Strategic communication to reduce overfeeding

The OSP’s Communication Advisor Marieke Roggeveen started the session by providing an overview of the challenges and opportunities in raising community awareness of open science initiatives.

Academics nowadays typically have a lot on their minds. Amidst applying for grants, managing their teams and research, mentoring students, teaching classes online, and much more, it is understandable that academics have little capacity to read extensively about open science or stay up to date with the latest developments in open science-related policies. 

Our communications hence need to be more strategic: instead of “overfeeding” academics with more information through yet another newsletter, we need to ensure that the most relevant information for the individual is available to them at the time they need it – less, in this case, is often more. Our messages should be targeted for specific audiences through more careful segmentation and should be embedded within a familiar context and begin with clear benefits for the reader (“what’s in it for you”). We should aim to build a rapport with our community with consistency and transparency, such that they know and remember where and how they can find resources and support to practise open science, and trust the information that we provide.

The various communication channels to reach different audiences at TU Delft.
The variety of communication channels within TU Delft – understanding who they reach and users’ expectations from these channels will help craft stronger, more effective messages for different groups of the target audience. Image by Marieke Roggeveen.

Pathways for community participation

The OSP’s Community Engagement Manager Emmy Tsang then reflected on the community design, building and engagement work in the OSP and broader TUD community, and shared 10 things she has learnt (slides):

  1. Think about the “why” – the shared vision/goal of the community
  2. Create a community culture
  3. Who? Identify the community’s target audience and members
  4. Make it welcoming for newcomers
  5. Make it easy for (potential) members to join and participate
  6. Acknowledge & reward all contributions
  7. Build paths for growth: from the first contact to leadership
  8. Starting is easy, maintaining is hard
  9. Listen, listen and listen more
  10. Take care of yourself

She also shared the development of the Open Science Community Delft since the new year.

Some aggregated data on the growth of Open Science Community Delft since Jan 2021, and plans for the community.
The development of the Open Science Community Delft, and our upcoming plans. Source.

Online home and visual identity for the Open Science Programme

For the past few months, Marieke and Emmy, along with a team of visual designers, UX/UI designers, and content strategists have been working on a new website for the OSP. The aim of the website is to inspire and motivate TUD researchers to practise and learn more about open science. 

Learning from research support websites of other institutions and our own, the OSP website aims to strike a balance between being a useful resource with rich, up-to-date information and overwhelming users. The amount of effort needed to maintain the site from our own team is also carefully considered. 

Marieke shared a wireframe of the new website at the meeting – since then, user testing with members of our target audience has also been conducted to help refine the prototype. Through a quick poll, we also chose a colour scheme for the OSP. The hope is the unify the style of visual assets produced and used in the OSP, to create a unique visual identity that our audience can easily identify and relate to. We hope to launch the new website in September 2021!

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!

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! 

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: