DataPLANT will give a NFDI talk on community pervasion and sustainability

At the following NFDI talk on March 1, 4 p.m., the speaker of DataPLANT will give a presentation on the current state of the discussion on "Community Pervasion and Sustainability". This contribution addresses the cross-cutting topic of further NFDI development and integrates key aspects discussed since the beginning of the project in September 2020, such as in the speaker jour fix, the exchange with the DFG in mid-January 2021 and the NFDI directorate in February.

One of the main goals of each consortium and the entire NFDI is to expand community engagement and to outreach into each respective scientific communities. How is it possible for the NFDI to involve previously disregarded members of the community and how do the methods used to achieve this goal impact the third round of the NFDI formation process? Furthermore, sustainable funding considerations of the consortia/the entire NFDI will be presented, aiming at a redesinged workflow for grant applications of new projects and research clusters. This could help to anchor the NFDI sustainably in the individual research communities and to foster standardization, use of data management plans and the implementation of FAIR principles.

We are looking forward to the event and hope for a lively discussion.

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Swobup - the Swate OBO Updater to foster the standardization process

Joint efforts of TaskArea 1 (standardization), TaskArea 2 (technical infrastructure) and TaskArea 3 (data stewards, community support) focusing on the optimization of digital workflows in plant sciences, have enabled one of our developers from Freiburg to implement a tool that facilitates the use of the Swate tool. The tool operates in the background on the Swate Database hosted at the DataPLANT site in Tübingen.

Swate is a Swate Workflow Annotation Tool for the Excel spreadsheet application. It aims to provide a low-friction workflow annotation experience that makes the usage of controlled vocabularies (ontologies) as easy and intuitive as possible. It is designed to integrate in the familiar spreadsheet environment that is the center of a great deal of data-focused wetlab work.

Swobup (Swate OBO Updater) is used to synchronize terms in a previously defined OBO file uploaded to a Github repository by an authorized user. Swobup parses the OBO file and incorporates the changes into the Swate database. The user then has the updated terms available in the Swate tool without having to manually enter individual terms.

More in depth information on the tool and its features, the necessary steps for setup and configuration are available on the nfdi4plants GitHub page, which allows posting issues, improvement suggestions or pull requests. Feedback is welcome!


Exchange of ideas on concepts for sustainable operation and community extension

The project coordinator and speaker of DataPLANT had an online meeting with the NFDI representative of the DFG regarding further community involvment and sustainable development of the consortium and the NFDI. In the half hours talk possible ideas got exchanged, how future project applications could foster the developments to support the steadily expanse of the number of researchers represented by the NFDI. This includes the ongoing process of forming consortia as well as the activities within the already funded consortia to increase their outreach. A crucial task of the consortia is to extend their visibility to the entirety of their researchers. This highlights the credibility to represent their respective fields and establish common standards and concepts. One of the success criteria for the funded consortia is to cover their own specialist community as fully as possible and to network with adjacent research areas. For this purpose, a coordinated onboarding process should be agreed on how new members are formally added to a consortium and incorporated into the governance structure.

Furthermore, a long-term perspective of financial sustainability should be discussed. This could be achieved in part through the design of future funding applications. One way to do this could be through greater involvement of the entire scientific community through the application process and the joint design of data management plans. Consultation with the NFDI could ensure that new projects work according to current workflows, with modern tools and jointly established community standards, and that this is supported in the project process by the NFDI. Such support should function independently of the specific federation process of the individual NFDI consortia and the initial group of co-applicants and participants.

Strategic considerations for future development include recommendations that should be made to future research and collaborative projects. Such projects typically require advice and support in the various aspects of data management, handling tools and workflows, and technical infrastructure. In order to be able to respond flexibly in this regard, a significant amount of staff should be earmarked for community support through, for example, data stewards. This support will be distributed among the original co-applicants according to a key defined in the consortium. However, in addition, research groups starting at a later point in time should also benefit from the NFDI support. Therefore, it needs to be discussed what conditions should be attached to inclusion and in particular how new groups could contribute additional resources needed accordingly. This discussion will be brought forward together with the other NFDI consortia as well through regular exchange e.g. via the speakers meetings with the NFDI directorate.