OSGeo announcement about becoming a signatory of the Enabling FAIR Data project

María Arias de Reyna, current President of OSGeo signed the commitment statement of the Enabling FAIR Data project on behalf of the board of OSGeo in October 2018.

What is this about ?

The Enabling FAIR Data project is funded by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and is managed by the American Geophysical Union (AGU). OSGeo signed a memorandum of understanding with AGU in May 2018. The projects’ goal is to create an initial critical mass of researchers, research institutes and organisations, publishers, data repositories und funding agencies to establish the FAIR principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) as best practices in the sciences, beginning in the Geosciences.

This is a step towards the establishment of the Open Science paradigm, whith its core aspects of open data, open source software and open access. From this point of view, open source software, like the OSGeo software projects are considered a part of scientific _data_, which is/should be provided via well curated data repositories (i.e. software repository infrastructures as required by the OSGeo incubation process).

What exactly did OSGeo commit to ?

The essence of the commitment statement are the following goals: “Ensuring that Earth, space, and environmental science research outputs, including data, software, and samples or standard information about them, are open, FAIR, and curated in trusted domain repositories whenever possible and that other links and information related to scholarly publications follow leading practices for transparency and information.
This means: Publication of scholarly articles in the Earth, space, and environmental science community is conditional upon the concurrent availability of the data underpinning the research finding, with only a few, standard, widely adopted exceptions, such as around privacy for human subjects or to protect heritage field samples.

These data should, to the greatest extent possible, be shared, open, and stored in community-approved FAIR-aligned repositories. Leading repositories provide additional quality checks around domain data and data services and facilitate discovery and reuse of data and other research outputs.”
The goals of both the project and OSGeo are highly compatible and OSGeo is already well on track to establish a open source infrastructure for FAIR.

What can/should OSGeo do as a SOCIETY ?

OSGeo as a society (in the sense of a community) is already practising the majority of the Enabling FAIR Data desiderata (four out of six – in my (biased) opinion):

• We support and promulgate open and FAIR data principles and practices in core Earth, space, and environmental science activities and policies.
• OSGeo is engaging in the development of community standards, infrastructure, tools and services to enable open and FAIR data practices through its incubation process.
• We provide regular education and outreach to their communities regarding these principles and practices through the FOSS$G conferences and code sprints.
• We promote open and FAIR data activities as important criteria in promotion, awards, and honors through the Sol Katz award.

OSGeo should continue to advance these topics:

• Participation in further development of open and FAIR data practices.
• Provision of other credit and recognition for researchers that are following open and FAIR data practices and encourage others to include such recognition as part of regular career advancement.


We’re already fulfilling these requirements (five out of seven – in my (biased) personal opinion) to the most part:

• OSGeo ensures that research outputs (e.g., data, software, technology) curated by (OSGeo-incubated software-)repositories are open and FAIR, have essential documentation, and include human-readable and machine-readable metadata (e.g., on landing pages) in standard formats that are exposed and publicly discoverable. (Reality check: Machine-readability of metadata needs to be improved.)
• Ingestion and exposing of data to promote interoperability and reuse, line API provided by OSGeo software projects.
• We ensure that data and software have licenses that are as open as possible, and as protected as necessary.
• Support peer-review of related manuscripts by enabling access to the research outputs prior to publication through the FOSS4G scientific track.
• Third-party validation of trustworthy and sustainable practices and capabilities through the global userbase of OSGeo projects in industry, education and academia.

We need to work on these requirements by Enabling FAIR Data:

• Ensure that unique, persistent identifiers are used for authors (e.g., ORCID), research objects (e.g., Digital Object Identifier), and physical samples (e.g., IGSN).
• Create associations among the research outputs that they manage and other related entities.

All hands: Call to action

The commitment statement can be signed both by organisations and individuals. All members of the OSGeo communities are encouraged sign the statement personally and take action in the following.

Overview over all signatories so far: http://www.copdess.org/enabling-fair-data-project/commitment-to-enabling-fair-data-in-the-earth-space-and-environmental-sciences/signatories/

What can individuals (OSGeo and beyond) do ?

• Make research outputs FAIR and, whenever possible, open by depositing research outputs (e.g., data, software, physical sample information, etc.) in trustworthy, community-accepted, FAIR-aligned repositories that support:
• Documenting data (and other research outputs as is possible) to agreed community standards that describe provenance and enable discovery, assessment of reliability, and reuse
• Persistent identifiers for data (and other research outputs as is possible) and consistently using these in citations.
• Licenses for data (and other research outputs as is possible) that is as open as possible to enable the widest potential reuse.
• Cite data, software, physical samples, and other products created or reused for your research in your publications.
• Include a data availability statement in your publication to make it clear where the data (and other research outputs as is possible) that supports the paper can be accessed along with any other access information.
• Prepare, use, and manage data management plans for your data and other research outputs. Keep the plan updated as research progresses.
• Educate colleagues in practices that enable open and FAIR research outputs.
• Support development of open and FAIR standards and practices in your institutions and organizations, and in scholarly publishing as authors, reviewers, and editors.

For further questions contact Peter Löwe.

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