Written by: Meta Keijzer-de Ruijter
Digitalisation offers a lot of opportunities for researchers to boost their research: automation of repetitive tasks, collection of more (complex) data, increase in computing capacity, re-use of data and code plus new ways to collaborate with colleagues within and outside of the research group.
At TU Delft, Library Research Data Services and ICT/Innovation are working closely together to define a vision and strategy to improve the support for developing digital competencies amongst the research community. In this process, we are looking at workshops and activities that are already being organised to assess their impact and possible improvements. With that aim in mind, a survey was developed to be sent to former participants of Data and Software Carpentry workshops. Our survey was based on the standard questions of the long-term impact survey that The Carpentries use, but we added questions on the actual usage of the tools taught and additional learning needs on the topics that were addressed in the workshops.
The survey was sent to 315 former participants of Data and Software Carpentry workshops held by TU Delft between 2018 and the summer of 2021. We received 45 responses. In addition, the feedback from both instructors/helpers and participants over the years was considered in this report.
Demographics and Scope
Most of the respondents were PhD candidates (37 out 45) that attended the workshops during their first or second year (21 out of 37). Respondents came from all faculties, but the majority from Applied Sciences (8), Civil Engineering and Geosciences (6), Architecture and the Built Environment (6) and Mechanical, Maritime and Materials Engineering (6).
Most respondents provided feedback on the software carpentry workshops (30 of 45).
Main Takeaways from Carpentries
The top three takeaways from the carpentry workshops, according to the respondents, were:
- Using programming languages including R, Python, or the Command Line to automate repetitive tasks (16)
- Making code reusable (12)
- Using scripts and queries to manage large data sets (10)
The workshop(s) helped them to improve their efficiency, data analysis and data management skills.
It should be noted that eight respondents wrote that they are not using any of the tools. The main reason for that was that they use alternative tools that better match their practice or that are easier to use on an ad hoc basis.
Relevance of the content
Most of the respondents found programming with Python (partly or very) relevant. But there is a lot of debate on the level of Python being taught. Although it was communicated that the level is very basic beginner, a recurrent note (also in the surveys right after the Software Carpentry Workshops) was being made that the topics addressed are too basic and the pace of the course too slow for those who want to refresh. The reason they still attended was that in order to get the full Graduate School credits for this course, everyone should attend all parts of the carpentry. In an online setting this seemed to result in less engagement in the breakout rooms.
Figure 1 Response to the question ‘How relevant was the content of the Software Carpentry for your research’? (n=22).
Data Carpentry Genomics
In the Genomics carpentry the command line part was found most relevant to the participants, closely followed by data wrangling.
Figure 2 Response to the question ‘How relevant was the content of Data Carpentry Genomics for your research?'(n=3)
Data Carpentry Social Sciences
In this data carpentry the data analysis and visualization with R is most valued. The relevance (and eventual) use of OpenRefine was questioned. None of the respondents (n=5) in the long-term survey reported using OpenRefine in their current work.
Figure 3 Response to the question ‘How relevant was the content of Data Carpentry Social Sciences for your research?'(n=5)
Use of tools that are taught in the carpentries
In the survey, respondents were asked about their usage of the tools that were taught in the workshops. Did they start using the tools and to what extent, or did they quit using the tools or never even started using them. On each tool they were also asked if and how they would like to advance their skills.
The use of Unix was picked up by a good number of respondents, those that didn’t use Unix mentioned that it did not serve their purpose. Two respondents stated that they did not feel confident enough to use it. Additional materials for self-paced learning or help with how to apply it in their work might help them get started.
It appeared that the respondents that already used Python increased their usage from occasional to more frequent. Those who reported not using Python stated that they use an alternative tool.
Both frequent and occasional Python-users would like to improve their skills either by attending more advanced workshops, self-paced materials or talking with peers. Examples of topics they are interested in include data analysis, (big) data management, packaging, Jupyter Notebooks, libraries (including scikit and numba), handling large databases and automating tasks.
Only three people responded to the usage of R question, one of them started using R from that moment on, the other two report that they were using a different tool to do their data management. The respondent that used R said that additional training, learning materials and talking to peers would be appreciated to improve the skills.
Amongst the respondents the use of Git increased. Those who didn’t use the tool (7 respondents) said either that it didn’t fit their purpose (4 respondents) or that they did not feel confident enough to start using it (3 respondents). This last group would like access to additional learning materials, guided practice or consultation on how to apply Git in their own work.
Most of the Git users would love to improve their skills in various ways. Topics that are mentioned are dealing with complex files, comparing different versions of code, collaborative use of Git and building more confidence using Git.
None of the respondents (n=5) used OpenRefine after the workshop. Three of them stated that the tool doesn’t fit their purpose, while two respondents would like to have additional materials or consultation on how to apply it in their work.
The use of spreadsheets remained about the same after the workshop. And the respondents did not feel the need to improve their skills.
None of the respondents (n=3) had been using this prior to the workshop. After the workshop two of them started using it and they would like to learn more. No specific topics were mentioned.
The respondent that did not start using cloud computing stated that it did not fit his/her purpose.
Additional training on research data management or software development
Respondents could tick multiple boxes in this question about additional training needs. The top five training topics were:
- Basic programming – 14 votes
- Modular code development – 13 votes
- RDM workflows for specific data types – 13 votes
- Software versioning, documentation and sharing – 11 votes
- Software testing – 10 votes
Impact of attending the carpentry workshops
Most respondents agreed that attending the carpentries had an impact on their work. They gained confidence in working with data, made their analysis more reproducible, were motivated to seek more knowledge about the tools, advanced their career, improved their research productivity and improved their coding practices.
The only topic where there was a wide spread of (dis)agreement was on the impact of the carpentry workshops on the professional recognition of their work.
Recommendation of the Carpentry workshops
Most respondents recommended or would recommend the carpentry workshops to their colleagues.
From the survey we learned that the carpentries fulfill an important role in the introduction of tools that help members of the research community to carry out their work more efficiently, but additional means and support are necessary. The translation of the carpentry materials to the daily practice can be challenging, causing some to quit or not even start using the tools. In the discussions with observers, helpers, and instructors of the software carpentry workshop we identified the need to link the carpentry topics more clearly to the research workflow, in order to increase the understanding of the ‘why’ we teach these topics and tools.
And of course..
We (TU Delft) would like to thank all those who participated in the survey….
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.
Research Support TU Delft Library
- Training (Research Data Management 101 & Open Science MOOC)
- Research Data Management website
- data refinement fund
Digital Competence Center (Data Managers)
Support from the Digital Competence Center (Research Software Engineers)
TU Delft Research Software Policy facilitates sharing of Research Software
Engagement is part of the TU Delft Core values (DIRECT)
Online discussion and presentation platforms such as the Virtual Science Forum
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
TU Delft Open Access Fund (up to €2000 for gold open access)
Publishing deals (check the Journal Browser)
Support for sustainable publishing (SciPost)
‘There is no open science if science is not open to all’ (Whitaker and Guest 2020)
‘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
Author: Esther Plomp
When I started as a Data Steward at the Faculty of Applied Sciences I attended the Essentials 4 Data Support course to learn more about research data management support. I was therefore happy to accept Eirini Zormpa’s invitation to discuss my Data Steward journey with the participants of the Essentials 4 Data Support course. Together with Zafer Öztürk from Twente University we shared our experiences during the data supporter panel on the 14th of April. This blog post is a summary of what I highlighted during the panel.
The Essentials 4 Data Support course is an introductory course about how to support researchers with the management and sharing of research data. The course materials are helpful to gain an overview of what research data management support entails. The course also provided an opportunity to link up with peers (such as Lena Karvovskaya) and meet experts (such as Petra Overveld).
In December 2018 I started as the Data Steward at the Faculty of Applied Sciences. In my first couple of months I had the privilege to be peer-mentored by Yasemin Türkyilmaz-van der Velden, who showed me the ropes of data management support. Initially, I had to get to know the position, the workings of the faculty, my new colleagues and the researchers I was now supporting.
In this first year I worked together with Yasemin on our Faculties Research Data Management Policies, based on the TU Delft Research Data Framework Policy. This was an arduous process, as we visited all departments of our faculties. The policy was discussed with many stakeholders, including PhD candidates. In the beginning of 2020 the Applied Sciences Policy on Research Data Management was officially released! Yasemin and I also worked together in the Electronic Lab Notebook pilot that took place at TU Delft resulting in TU Delft licences for RSpace and eLABjournal.
In 2019 I followed a Software Carpentry Workshop to learn basic programming skills so I could better support researchers with any software support questions. I later took the train-the-trainer course and became a Carpentries Instructor myself. By being a Carpentries instructor I can teach basic programming lessons set up by the Carpentries community. With the pandemic we had to shift these trainings online, and I coordinated these workshops for a year (2020-2021).
Over the years, I also increasingly supported researchers with Open Science questions. This is an aspect of the role that I very much enjoy and currently try to expand upon. My role differs somewhat from the other Data Stewards at TU Delft: we each have our own preferences and areas of expertise next to data support (such as software, ethics, or personal data). Another difference is my involvement in a side project focused on PhD duration. At TU Delft and at my faculty we try to reduce the amount of time that PhD candidates take to finish their PhD project. While the official duration for a Dutch PhD is four years, the majority of PhD candidates take much longer. This often means that they have to finish the project in their unpaid free time. As someone who has spent seven years on a PhD project I can say that finishing your PhD next to a full time job is no joke.
As a Data Steward I’m also a connection point in the university network. This allows me to address researcher’s questions myself or to connect them with the expert that they need.
- My position at the Faculty itself allows for close contact with researchers. Before the pandemic I regularly hopped between their offices to help them with any questions. At the Faculty I’m embedded in the support team where I work together with the Faculty Graduate School and the Information Coordinator. I’m in regular contact with project officers, managers and researchers from all levels at the faculty.
- As part of the Data Stewards team I meet the other Data Stewards once a week (virtually) and we communicate through Slack/Teams.
- I’m also in contact with colleagues from the Library and the Digital Competence Center, either through collaborative work or because they are the experts that can address questions from researchers.
- Sometimes I reach out to central experts from the Human Research Ethics Committee, the Privacy Team and ICT Security when needed.
Next to my activities as a Data Steward at TU Delft, I’m also involved in several other initiatives that are revolving around data and open research:
- Since 2020 I’ve been a contributor to The Turing Way. I have primarily written about Research Data Management and contributed a Data Steward case study.
- I am also part of the team that is behind the Open Research Calendar.
- Since 2021 I’m a mentor of the Open Life Science programme, which is now also offered for credits for the PhD candidates of my Faculty. In this 16 week mentor programme you will learn about open science practices and apply them practically to your own project.
- I’ve written an essay on the importance of physical samples in data management and I’m one of the co-chairs of the Research Data Alliance group on physical samples and collections.
- I’m the Open Research Ambassador and Secretary General of IsoArcH, a disciplinary specific data repository for isotope data.
Over the years I very much enjoyed writing blogs like this one, summarising my experiences of conferences, activities and learnings.
I very much enjoy the Data Steward role, for various reasons:
- I support researchers in making their research more transparent.
- I work with amazing colleagues and collaborators
- I meet new people interested in similar topics.
- I can continuously develop and learn new skills.
- I have a lot of autonomy over my working activities and schedule.
A lot of this is made possible by a supportive manager, and many individuals that I learned from along the way.
“Create the world you want, and fill it with the opportunities that matter to you.”– Alicia Keys
My tips for people just starting in a data support role:
- Accept that things can take more time than you originally anticipated. Starting in a new role will take some time to adjust and achieving cultural change in university processes will not happen overnight.
- The downside of being able to create your own opportunities is that there might be a lot of things that you want to do. Even if everything seems important or fun to do, it could mean that you will end up with too much on your plate. Sometimes it is good to say no to shiny opportunities.
- In whatever you do I would recommend you to not take the road alone and seek out others to collaborate with, or ask feedback from. Exchanging expertise and experience will not only be more efficient, it will make the road more worthwhile to walk.
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.
Author: Esther Plomp. Contributions from Vicky Hellon, Achintya Rao, Yanina Bellini Saibene, and Lora Armstrong.
A Data Article (also known as a Data Paper/Note/Release, or Database article) is a publication that is focused on the description of a dataset. It uses the traditional journal article structure, but focuses on the data-collection and methodological aspects and generally not on the interpretation or discussion of the results. Data articles are in line with the FAIR principles, especially since most publishers will encourage you to share the data through a data repository. The benefit of a Data Article is that your output will be peer reviewed, something which is generally not the case for datasets that are archived on data repositories. It also facilitates recognition for datasets through research assessment procedures that are more traditionally focused on publication output. Publishing a data paper will therefore increase the visibility, credibility and usability of the data, as well as giving you credit as a data producer (The Turing Way Community 2022).
Below you can find some journals that publish data articles. The costs information was collected in February 2022.
|Discipline||Publisher/Journal||Cost estimate||Deals for TU Delft|
|All||Experimental Results||£775 / €928||100% APC discount for TUD authors|
|All||Scientific Data||€1790||No, but eligible for the TU Delft OA Fund|
|All||Data in Brief||USD 500 / €440||100% APC discount for TUD authors|
|All||China Scientific Data||RMB 3000 / €416||No|
|All||Data Science Journal||£650 / €778||No, but eligible for the TU Delft OA Fund|
|All||Data||CHF 1400||100% APC discount for TUD authors|
|All||GigaScience||€1089||No, but eligible for the TU Delft OA Fund|
|All||Gigabyte||USD 350 / €308||No, but eligible for the TU Delft OA Fund|
|All||F1000Research||USD 800 / €704||No, but eligible for the TU Delft OA Fund|
|Archaeology||Journal of Open Archaeology Data||£100 / €120||No, but eligible for the TU Delft OA Fund|
|Archaeology||Open Quaternary||£300 / €359||No, but eligible for the TU Delft OA Fund|
|Chemistry||Journal of Cheminformatics||0||NA|
|Earth Sciences||Geoscience Data Journal||€1450||No, but eligible for the TU Delft OA Fund|
|Earth Sciences||Earth System Science Data||0||NA|
|Earth Sciences||Big Earth Data||€910||No, but eligible for the TU Delft OA Fund|
For more journals that offer the Data Article format you can see the ‘Data Article’ section in The Turing Way.
Authors: Esther Plomp, Emmy Tsang, Emma Henderson and Delwen Franzen
This blogpost summarises a discussion session held during the AIMOS2021 conference (1 Dec – 08:30-9:30 AM UTC). During the discussion, we focused on what our institutes and departments could do to improve the awareness of Open Science practices and support the change towards a more open research culture. We started our session with some of the questions that the participants were currently struggling with, and some of our (not so) success stories:
- The Delft University of Technology (the Netherlands) already has a lot of policies and support roles in place that support Open Science practices. There is the Open Science Programme with a dedicated Community Manager that also supports the building and growth of the TU Delft Open Science Community. At the Faculty level, Data Stewards provide support for research data and software management and sharing. Thanks to these Data Stewards, the faculties each have their own Data Management policy.
- The Flinders University (Adelaide, Australia) is working on policy changes and has an Open Science training in place.
- The BIH QUEST Center (Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany) has developed a pilot dashboard that provides an up-to-date overview of several metrics of open and responsible research at the Charité.
Having dedicated roles or policies for Open Science and Data Management is crucial to drive effective change in research practises, but not every institute has these resources. While the uptake of Open Science practises in the last five to ten years has increased, there is also still a lot of frustration at the local level. Not everyone has the time to pay attention to or is enthusiastic about Open Science developments, and participants indicated that some principal investigators did not care about replicability in research. If bachelor/master students are following training on open research practices, they are equipped to take this aspect into account when selecting a supervisor for their PhD research (see also Emily Sena’s contributions in the AIMOS 2021 Panel Discussion on “How to start a revolution in your discipline”). While some institutions offer Open Science training, sometimes the uptake is low. During the session we struggled with some of these obstacles and discussed the following four questions in more detail:
How can you make the case for hiring professionals that support Open Science practices?
It helps if other institutes have examples of professional support roles, especially if there is visible impact in the uptake of Open Science practices. A great example of this is the UK Reproducibility Network (UKRN). The UKRN is actively involved in supporting institutions in setting up roles that focus on increasing reproducibility of research, by connecting stakeholders to share best practices and by providing expert advice.
To build the case for the institution to prioritise investment in Open Science, it is often helpful to illustrate to institutional leadership the effects of (inter)national funders’ commitments to Open Science. Funder mandates on data management planning and sharing are now commonplace (for example, the European Commission, NWO, NIH) and are directly impacting the institution’s researchers.
It was also noted that support from institutional/faculty leadership alone was often not sufficient: the establishment for these roles should also be driven by the needs of the researchers. Ideally, there is alignment in these bottom-up needs and top-down strategic decisions.
How do you set up an Open Science policy at your institute?
To set up an Open Science policy, you may be more successful if you tackle the variety of different aspects of Open Science separately. Open Science is a very broad concept and it may be complicated to address Open Access, Data, Software, Education, Engagement in a single policy.
Stakeholder engagement is essential when setting up a policy. You should make sure that the policy represents various interests at your institution. Stakeholder mapping is a helpful exercise that could help one understand who to talk to, how and at what stage of policy development. While it may take time to actively engage all of your stakeholders, in the end your policy will be more practically applicable and supported. At the same time, it is also an opportunity to engage in conversation with your stakeholders with this topic, as an upcoming policy that would affect them creates a sense of urgency. It is helpful to run your policy past procedural check points (such as Human Research Ethics committees).
How do we incentivise/reward researchers practising Open Science?
One way to incentivise researchers to practise Open Science is setting up Awards:
- The BIH QUEST Center offers several awards, including an Open Data Award and an Open Data Reuse Award.
- The University of Surrey organised a showcase event on Open Research and Transparency, where researchers from any discipline could present their case studies in 20 minutes. The presentations were followed by an award ceremony and afterwards the case studies were listed on the website.
- The Health and Technology Open Research Awards involved scoring people on their Open Science practices as objectively as possible. This award benefitted from the UKRN primer on Open Research Awards.
- The University of Bristol and University of Groningen also awarded Open Research Awards.
- There is the Parasite Award for rigorous secondary data analysis.
While it is important to recognise the efforts of individual researchers in practising Open Science, there are discussions on whether incentivising them with awards is the best approach (see Lizzie Gadd’s post ‘How (not) to incentivise open research’ and Anton Akhmerov’s Twitter thread).
How do you get more people onboard in practising Open Science?
In order to gain more support for Open Science practices, it helps if there are practical examples. It is not always clear from hypothetical or abstract statements what can be done on a daily basis to make research practices more open.
It was noted that it is easier to start at the beginning of the research career with learning about open research practises, for example, during undergraduate or early graduate school training. Once the students have gained more knowledge, they can also demonstrate to their supervisors that these practices are beneficial. However, it cannot just be up to PhD candidates to drive these changes as they are in a hierarchical relationship with their supervisors. Supervisors should also receive training and support to adjust their practices.
Useful links and resources
- Open Science communities (for example, TU Delft)
- See the Starter Kit
- Open Life Science programme
- Utrecht University Rewards and Recognition model: TRIPLE
- Utrecht University (NL): Open Science Monitor survey
- Academic job offers that mentioned open science
- Open Scholarship Grassroots Community Networks
- UK Reproducibility Network
- Surrey Open Research and Transparency Showcase
- Promoting Open Science: A holistic approach to changing behaviour
- Open Research Toolkit
- CARL Institutional Policy Template
- ODDPub: a text-mining algorithm to detect data sharing statements in biomedical publications by Riedel et al. (2020) (BIH QUEST Center, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin)
- The Seven Deadly Sins of Psychology: A Manifesto for Reforming the Culture of Scientific Practice by Chris Chambers
- Science Fictions by Stuart Ritchie
- Bad Pharma by Ben Goldacre
This blogpost is written based on contributions by the session participants: Peter Neish (The University of Melbourne, @peterneish), Delwen Franzen (BIH QUEST Center for Responsible Research, @DelwenFranzen), Jen Beaudry (Flinders University, @drjbeaudry), Emma Henderson (University of Surrey, @EmmaHendersonRR), Fiona Fidler (University of Melbourne, @fidlerfm), Nora Vilami and Pranali Patil.
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.
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.
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 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.
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).
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.
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.
Author: Esther Plomp
tl;dr: Overview of the year for Esther Plomp.
After I saw the very comprehensive overview of the Turing Way on their year in the December newsletter I got inspired to write my own 2021 overview. Luckily, I already had some documentation lying around, as I started with ‘Gridding’ this year (thanks to a Tweet by Laura Rossi!). At the end of 2020 I read Magdalena Bak-Maier’s book ‘the Grid’, which encourages you to define priorities and goals for the long term. This could be work related goals, but also personal things. For example, my Twitter thread on books is something that resulted from this grid exercise, as I prioritised reading (or listening to) a book every week this year. While I did not reach all my set goals for this year, I think it is a useful tool to consider priorities and plan more realistically. I will therefore continue to use this in the future!
My 2021 started with coordinating the TU Delft/Leiden Data Carpentry workshop on learning to manage tabular data and beginning with programming using R. I started coordinating the TU Delft Carpentries in September 2020 and learned a lot about online workshop organisation. I also started discussions with our Carpentry instructors on how we could further improve the workshops. Several documents on how we run the Carpentry workshop at TU Delft are now available (such as information sheets on being a helper and on coordinating the workshops).
I also began my activities to reduce the PhD duration at the Faculty of Applied Sciences. Together with Ans van de Schaik from the Faculty Graduate School and Pascale Daran-Lapujade, the director of the Faculty Graduate School, we’re trying to increase awareness around the topic and throughout the year we managed to set up some practical tools. More to follow in 2022!
February was marked by two Open Science events: The Open Science Festival, of which I was a programme committee member and a session organiser, as well as the International Open Science Conference that normally takes place in Berlin. For the latter conferences I presented a poster on the Open Research Calendar, together with Alexandra Lautarescu and Bradley Kennedy from the Open Research Calendar.
In February I also started mentoring for both the Carpentries and the Open Life Science programme (OLS 3). The Open Life Science programme provided training and a lot of support in my mentor journey. Being a part of the programme has been a consistent part of my year, as a mentor and as a presenter/expert on Open Data. Midway 2021 the Faculty Graduate school approved OLS as a course that PhD candidates could follow for credits (OLS-4)! We are looking forward to continuing this partnership in 2022 for OLS-5.
This year I was also involved in the CSCCE Community Champions meetings. I presented the TU Delft Data Champions initiative and shared our experiences in establishing the community. An outcome of these sessions are tip sheets that will be shared in 2022 on how you can start your own Champion Initiative.
I participated in two events organised by the Software Sustainability Institute:
- I attended the Collaborations workshop and presented a lightning talk on the organisation of online Software Carpentry Workshops.
- As part of the Research Software Camp I wrote a blog post on ‘How can you make research data accessible?’
In April I was coordinating the TU Delft Software Carpentry Workshop and co-organising the Physical Samples session during the Research Data Alliance (RDA)’s 17th Plenary Meeting.
May was a very busy month, with multiple workshops and events taking place!
- I organised a workshop on (Reviewing) data management plans for the DCC Spring Course (based on the materials from the Helis Workshop in March). Later that month I co-organised the NWOlife Data/Software workshop, Plan ahead: practical tools to make your data and software more FAIR, with Yasemin Turkyilmaz-van der Velden, Mateusz Kuzak, Maaike Verburg, Cees Hof, Lourens Veen, and Jurriaan Spaaks. We’ll hopefully repeat a similar workshop in the next edition of NWOlife!
- The Turing Way Book Dash took place, of which I was a member of the organising committee. See also November for some more details on this (currently online) event that takes place over four days. Participants contribute to The Turing Way during the event and join social discussions related to data science.
- I also co-organised the IsoArcH Event with Kevin Salesse on Open Science in Archaeology (see the summary of the event for more details).
The RDA/ESIP Physical Samples webinar series kicked off in June. The series started with sample management, with a focus on RSpace. In July the webinar was focused on persistent identifiers for reagents and materials (RRIDs). In October we invited several speakers from different disciplines to discuss interdisciplinary sample use. You can find more information about these activities in the 2020-2021 overview of the Physical Samples Interest Group.
As part of the csv,conf,v6 birds of a feather session I contributed to a blog post on Tracking Impact and Measuring Success in Data Education Events.
By the end of June I coordinated my final Software Carpentry Workshop!
July was all about writing! I submitted a data paper on my isotopic research. Together with Emmy Tsang and Paula Martinez Lavanchy we wrote an overview of our efforts in taking the Carpentry Workshops online (currently still under review).
I attended the FSCI2021 event and followed the ‘Train-the-trainer’ course on Reproducibility for Everyone, as well as a course on Open Science assessment. Unfortunately, there are still no clear solutions for the evaluation of datasets, protocols and software.
As part of the Open Science in Practice Series 2021 I gave a presentation on the TU Delft Software Policy. I also attended some of the other presentations and hope to perhaps host a similar Open Science series at TU Delft as it is a great way to generate discussions around Open Science topics. Luckily, the Open Science Coffees from the TU Delft Open Science Community kicked off in September with a session on Code Review!
In the months of August and September I took a beginner course on leadership. This course took place in person, which was a nice change of pace, and has helped me enormously with time management, setting priorities and asking for more feedback.
This month was very exciting as I got to present the plans for an Open Science Team to the management team! The following months I worked on gathering team members from each department of the faculty, and on the next steps that the team can take. Around the same time we’re setting up a Publication Task Force together with the Library to address the increasing publishing costs and generate awareness around publishing more sustainably. More to follow in 2022!
I presented ‘Data sharing is caring’ at the British Association for Biological Anthropology and Osteoarchaeology (BABAO) conference. I think presenting at existing disciplinary specific events is the most effective way to inform researchers about the latest Open Science developments.
I also wrote two blog posts this month. The first post was a collaboration on quality and the journal impact factor in research, together with Emmy Tsang and Antonio Schettino. The second blog post was a follow up on a post I wrote on publishing articles in 2021, but this time with a focus on data: Managing and Sharing Data in 2021.
In October I made several contributions to events and initiatives organised by others:
- As part of the SeaChanges workshop I co-organised another workshop together with Lane Atmore that introduced GitHub and Open Science practises. Many thanks to the SeaChanges early career researchers for participating so enthusiastically and being so generous with their feedback! A nice side effect of this workshop is that I now also have a semi up to date website!
- As part of the TU Delft Diversity week I co-organised an Ally Skills Workshop and helped Emmy Tsang to organise the Open Science Coffee on Diversity and Inclusion in Research, Technology and Design.
- As part of the Data Horror Week, an event around Halloween to increase awareness for data management, I wrote a blog about my PhD experiences. This was also partly inspired by a lack of use cases that I see in my work on PhD duration: there is not a lot of public experience sharing of negative experiences. I tried to contribute by writing the blog ‘PhD in 4, 5-6-7’. Many thanks to Lena Karvovskaya for the encouragement to write this blogpost!
- I also updated my teaching materials for managing tabular data in Excel for the Data Carpentry that took place (25-26 October).
I was a bit too enthusiastic this month, deciding that I was going to write 500 words each day (blogs, articles etc, based on the novel writing month NaNoWriMo), as well as finish one drawing per day. While I did manage to do this, I recommend not tackling two challenges in the same month…
Several events around the Turing Way took place this month.
- I was on the programme committee of the Turing Way Bookdash (8-12 November, see this short summary blog). During this Bookdash I wrote about the role of a Data Steward and contributed a case study on my role specifically.
- Right after the Bookdash, I co-organised a repeat of The Turing Way Collaboration workshop for the Open Publishing Fest, together with Emma and Rachael.
- I also had the honour to be a presenter at the launch of the ReproHack Hub, an event during which you can (try to) reproduce research articles. I introduced the Turing Way to the attendees, with a focus in the guide for reproducible research.
November was also a very busy month in terms of researcher requests. I reached the amount of requests that I had in 2020 (n = 186), with 26 requests in total this month (average is ~16).
Originally intended as a quiet, catch-up month, December started with two fantastic conferences that I could not ignore: AIMOS2021 and FORCE2021. For AIMOS (the Association for Interdisciplinary Meta-research and Open Science) I submitted a discussion session on ‘Moving Open Science forward at the institutional/departmental level’ (summary blog post coming up in January!). For FORCE2021, a conference on the latest developments in scholarly communications, I introduced The Turing Way in a lightning talk.
Looking back at 2021 I’m very proud of what I managed to accomplish and set up despite primarily working from home and experiencing some general anxieties around the pandemic. I’m looking forward to working together with the wonderful people from the Faculty Open Science Team, Publication Taskforce, Open Research Calendar, PhD duration, IsoArcH, YoungSiT, The Turing Way and Open Life Science programme in the upcoming year!
Happy holidays! 🙂
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
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).