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NCI: increasing the momentum of Open Science and Open Data

Academic and industry particpants in SMARDY TrainRDM plenary sessions at NCI

L-R : Michael Bradford (NCI), Horacio González-Vélez (NCI), Andrea Riccio (La Sapienza), Dave Feenan (DTSL), Giulia Antinucci (La Sapienza), Radu-Ioan Ciobanu (UPBucharest), Dana Gheorghe (UPBucharest), Bernd Saurugger (TU Vienna), Adriana E. Chis (NCI), Ciprian Dobre (ICI-Bucharest)

This week, National College of Ireland hosted plenary sessions for two EU-funded research projects, in which NCI’s Cloud Competency Centre participates. Both projects see Open Science and Open Data researchers creating tools and resources that will benefit researchers, practitioners, and students across all academic disciplines and industries. According to the EU Open Data Maturity report 20201, Ireland is ranked 4th in Europe for Open Data, an economic sector worth €325bn, generating 100,000 direct jobs in Europe.

At base level, ‘Open Science’ makes publicly available the outputs of publicly funded research, and ‘Open Data’ is data that anyone can access, use and share, but their application leads to so much more than that, using digital technologies to encourage and facilitate knowledge sharing and cooperative work on any given problem and, in the process, completely changing the way science and research is done.

The Cloud Competency Centre was awarded an ERASMUS+ KA grant for TrainRDM (Open Science and Research Data Management: Innovative and Distributed Training) in November 2020.  

TrainRDM aims to strengthen the education and skills dimension of Open Science by exploring and developing mechanisms and tools to provide training and modelling of best practice in Data Research Management. Acting as a resource for applied research in Open Data, TrainRDM also supports students, librarians, and early-career data scientists to collaborate both formally and informally.

The Norma Smurfit Library at NCI is contributing to this project, as are Digital Technology Skills Ltd., alongside international teams from Universitatea Politehnica din Bucuresti and ICI Bucuresti in Romania, Technische Universitaet Wien in Austria, and Universita degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza in Italy.

In June this year, SMARDY (Marketplace for Technology Transfer of R&I Data, Software and Results) became the first-ever project in Ireland to receive coveted EU Eureka Network research funding via Enterprise Ireland.

Working with industry and academic partners both at home (Digital Technology Skills Ltd.) and abroad (BEIA Consult and Universitatea Politehnica din Bucuresti, Romania), NCI’s Cloud Competency Centre will develop a research data marketplace for technology transfer, where academia, industry and government bodies can exchange curated datasets, technology, and tools to foster economic and social development. 

Built as an open source platform, researchers will not need to have extensive computational experience to use SMARDY. Using the ‘Data Carpentry’ model, SMARDY will guide them through the skills necessary for Open Data management and analysis, allowing them experience data-driven discovery relevant to their own disciplines without themselves being data scientists.

“Both these research project contribute to the openness and reproducibility of science in Ireland,” said Dr Horacio González-Vélez, Head of the Cloud Competency Centre at NCI. 

“SMARDY  is releasing the kind of tools, datasets, and software that can then be applied in training programmes such as TrainRDM to ultimately benefit students, industry practitioners, and scientists. At the moment, researchers in many fields end up having to undertake quite arduous, specialist training in order to be able to manage and analyse the information they need. These projects will allow, for example, a medical researcher to directly focus on the answer they need from data, rather than having to first learn how to ask the question.”

Professor Jimmy Hill, Vice President for Research and Academic Affairs at NCI said, “National College of Ireland is proud to host our national and international partners in the TrainRDM and SMARDY consortia. Along with the work of progressing these projects, we have had the opportunity to build stronger relationships and deeper understanding of shared interests, itself an aspect of both Open Science and Open Data.”

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