DataPLANT presented at NFDI-Talks online series

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DataPLANT presented in the second event of the NFDI Talks online series on considerations on project sustainability and community expansion as the total number of researchers covered by the NFDI in Germany should be steadily expanded in the course of the formation process. Additionally the consortia should provide concepts for a long-term perspective after the first funding phase. The ongoing procedures for the formation of new consortia as well as the activities within the already funded consortia contribute to this. A central task of the consortia is to extend their visibility to the entirety of their research communities. Only in this way can they credibly represent their respective fields and establish common standards and concepts. One of the success criteria for the funded consortia is to penetrate their own community as completely as possible and to network with other research areas. For this, a coordinated process for onboarding should be agreed upon, how new members formally join a consortium and how they are integrated into the governance structure.

In addition, a long-term perspective of financial sustainability should be developed. This can be achieved in part through the design of future funding. A complementary path lies in greater involvement of the entire scientific community through the application process for DFG funding 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 standards, and that this is supported in the project process by the NFDI. Such support should function independently of the concrete funding progress of the individual NFDI consortia and the initial group of co-applicants and participants. For practical implementation, this could be realized, for example, through a co-applicant role of the respective technical consortium. This avoids questions about potential VAT liability of the supporting consortium through personnel and infrastructural contributions. (DFG: "As far as the financial side is concerned, the point to be clarified in particular is the extent to which consortia can offer services in return for payment without becoming liable to VAT and thus losing their non-profit status.")


Strategic considerations of sustainable development include recommendations and guidelines that should be given to future research and collaborative projects. Specialized science projects in virtually all disciplines typically require advice and support in the various aspects of data management, handling tools and workflows, and technical infrastructure. To be able to respond flexibly in this regard, a significant amount of staff should be allocated to support these communities through data stewards. This support for the co-applicants is already arranged by the DataPLANT consortium according to their needs, but in addition, research groups joining later should also benefit from the NFDI. Therefore, it needs to be discussed what conditions and commitment should be attached to inclusion and, in particular, how the human and infrastructural resources needed to support the new groups can be generated.

A conceivable approach for the future would be that newly submitted research proposals can apply for funds for support services in personnel or infrastructural form, comparable to INF subprojects in SFBs, which, if approved, flow directly to the NFDI or the assigned consortium. This allows in particular to deal well with partial positions - small projects cannot always apply for full positions for data management. It also ensures the sustainability and continuity of the experts employed by the NFDI. Recruitment and training of suitable personnel and follow-up employment after the end of the project are often unsolved challenges in the science enterprise, especially for a demanding range of tasks, such as data stewards.

Participation of the researchers and involvement of the communities in the design of such processes can be ensured via the committees in the individual consortia and the NFDI association. In this way, such an approach can be coordinated with the relevant stakeholders, so that a clear procedure can be established without setting up duplicate structures. Thus, DataPLANT has already started to work together with the TRR175 and Cluster of Excellence CEPLAS regarding a close cooperation and coordination right after the start. Here, a close linkage with the INF project of the CRC and the data stewards of CEPLAS could already be established. Such considerations could potentially be expanded and further developed step by step for the entire NFDI.




Participation of DataPLANT at the E-Science-Tage

DataPLANT focusing on fundamental plant research presents itself in multiple fashion at the upcoming ESTWe will give an overview on the Annotated Research Context (ARC), ongoing technical developments for a first set of annotation tools and our concept for the use of Data StewardsWe are also participating in the NFDI workshop and one of our infrastructure partners, bwSFS - Storage-for-Science, will also be along with a poster.

Blatt_blau.pngThe Annotated Research Context

Poster by Benedikt Venn (Session 6 - 04.03.21 13:55-14:15)

  • The ARC aims at capturing the entire research cycle and defines a framework for organization,  sharing, versioning, reuse, and evolution of research projects.
  • It respects FAIR and linked open principles.
  • The usage of common spreadsheet software (e.g. Excel) with low system requirements minimizes the friction to the user.
  • It provides full metadata annotation based on the ISA model.
  • The modular structure facilitates a granular reuse and development of raw data or processing workflows. 
  • Guided creation and metadata annotation leading to an interface between research communities and public repositories.

Blatt_blau.pngAnnotation Tools

Talk by Jens Krüger (Session A2 - 04.03.21 15:40-16:00)

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.

Blatt_blau.pngData Stewards

Poster by Dirk von Suchodoletz (Session 3 04.03.21 13:55-14:15)

Data stewards are a core element of our strategy of fostering a good scientific practice and for dissemination of common standards, concepts of research data management and workflow services. Data stewards play a special hinge role between service providers, individual researchers, groups and the wider community. They also help bridging the gap between researchers and technical systems. Project groups and individual researchers will profit from direct support in their daily tasks ranging from data organization to the selection of the proper tools, workflows and standards. DataPLANT invests a significant amount of its budget into data stewards and defines an explicit dispatch model that focuses both on the major research groups as well as core and future participants in the consortium.

 Blatt_blau.pngbwSFS - Storage-for-Science

Poster by Dirk von Suchodoletz (Session 3 04.03.21 13:15-14:45)

The storage system bwSFS (Storage-for-Science) is one of the major technical infrastructures for the NFDI consortium DataPLANT and further as well as the Science Data Center BioDATEN. It forms the geo-redundant distributed technical platform for basic storage services, research data management and sharing of data both during ongoing research and through data publication in the various project phases. The system providing traditional SMB/NFS as well as object storage has a solid hardware base with modern monitoring and various redundancies, some of which extend beyond the site boundaries.


Registration is still possible until tomorrow via the following link:

Registration E-Science-Tage

We would be happy to see you there!


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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