PROJECTS

The RfII plenum sets up a work programme and committees or working groups to prepare RfII reports and recommendations on selected topics. As of November 2017 the following projects have been implemented:

TRUSTED INTERMEDIARIES/DATA TRUSTEESHIP

The re-use of personal or otherwise sensitive data for research underlies significant obstructions. Anonymisation could make these data scientifically un-useable or greatly reduce the scientific usability. Trusted Intermediaries may be a token to enable controlled access to even sensitive data at different interfaces in the data life cycle and under trustworthy conditions. This could increase the actual level of data sharing activities for the sake of innovation and prosperity in Europe and Germany. The German Federal Government’s Data Ethics Commission (“Datenethikkommission”) has recommended establishing regulations and quality standards for “data trustee systems”. To prepare a contribution to the emerging regulatory discourse, the RfII has set up the Data Trusteeship Project. The Council thus follows up on its recommendation on data protection and research data to develop participatory models for the secure management of personal data. A first white paper DESIGNING TRUSTED INTERMEDIARIES FOR DATA EXCHANGE was published in May 2020. In March 2021, the Council published on this topic also a Statement on the proposal for a Data Governance Act by the EU Commission, which was included in the consultation process for the European legislative process.

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National developments in research data management

The establishment of a national research data infrastructure (NFDI) requires the joint effort of all stakeholders in the scientific system, and therefore correspondingly intensive scientific policy and cross-party support. Further suggestions are required to develop the NFDI and integrate it into the German, European, and international scientific system. After clarifying the options for participation and financing, this also applies to questions regarding evaluation and quality assurance as well as integration of the numerous services already existing in the area of research data management. In the long-term legal adjustments will be required as well. In close coordination with the Joint Science Conference and in communicative exchanges with other key organisations in the scientific system, the RfII is working on answers to these questions in order to provide optimal support during the starting phase of the NFDI.

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EU developments

New approaches to the digitisation of science and consolidation of information infrastructures are being created not only in Germany, but at the European level as well. The RfII monitors these developments, in particular the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), to provide science and scientific policy with advice in the upcoming stages. Furthermore, the RfII wishes to support the development and communication of German positions in European and international debates – taking into account the objectives and approaches of various German stakeholders.

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Country Analyses

For science policy the increasing digitization calls for a strategic order and consolidation of investments in activities for data infrastructures. Comprehensive initiatives such as the National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI) for the German scientific landscape and the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) for the European supranational level are answers to this diagnosis. At the same time EOSC and NFDI are driving forward the internationalisation of science communication and information technology networking. In its first country report from 2017, the RfII analysed selected countries and their development paths in terms of research data policy. In view of current goals for Open Science on the one hand and ongoing international, but in particular European networking efforts on the other hand, the RfII has decided to take up further analyses by country and/or regions. The findings on actors, policies, organisational structures and governance models will serve as a basis for further statements and recommendations on the development of information infrastructures in Germany.

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Re-use and Valorisation of Scientific Output

The digital transformation is changing concepts for the re-use and valorisation of scientific output, especially research data. In the course of the increasing transition to Open Access not only conventional publications but also research data should be available ‘open‘, and at its best free of charge. This also opens up the possibility for non-public providers to exploit these data commercially. However, rules are needed to ensure that this is done transparently and in consideration of scientific interests. In its position paper PERFORMANCE THROUGH DIVERSITY the RfII already pointed to problems and the necessity to design and shape – from a scientific point of view – adequate frames for practising openness of research data. Among other things, binding minimum standards for the design of data publications were advocated. Based on these recommendations, and with a view to the EU’s package of measures to promote a single European data space, the RfII is analysing current developments of the transformation to Open Access. Therefore, he published a whitepaper Building Sustainable Data Services in May 2020 with recommendations on the active design of the interface between science and the economy. The Working Group “Re-use and Valorisation” has also developed requirements for the design of data services from a scientific perspective based on an analysis of more than forty data services, which was published as the position paper NUTZUNG UND VERWERTUNG IM WISSENSCHAFTLICHEN RAUM in 2021 (translation in progress).

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Collections and Archives

Today, research processes in all scientific disciplines are characterised by the simultaneous handling of physical objects/artefacts and digital copies respectively digital data. This evokes new demands on the institutions, which are collecting and archiving objects and data to be used for research. In its position paper THE DATA QUALITY CHALLENGE (2019/2020), the RfII advocated to overcome institutionalised barriers as a prerequisite to enable the handling of analogue and digital data as complementary elements in research processes. The council also emphasised the importance of collections and archives as information infrastructures. These should be regarded as potential drivers of good scientific practice.

The RfII set up a working group in December 2021 to provide orientation in this field and to enable recommendations on the design of the driver role. The council plans in specific, a report to include recommendations on

  • the interconnected use of analogue and digital data and databases,
  • readjustment of methods and logics of collecting,
  • the self-image and (future) role of collecting institutions,
  • criteria for the selection or prioritisation of analogue collections for digitisation, and
  • on the further handling of physical objects or even their possible segregation.

The RfII has already provided initial suggestions on the scientific, academic, and cultural reusability of collections in the discussion impulse SHAPING INVENTORY BASED RESEARCH: SUSTAINABLE INTERCONNECTIONS OF ‘ANALOGUE’ AND ‘DIGITAL’ (2021/2022).

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