Monthly Archives: November 2013

Data Citation Synthesis Group: Draft Declaration of Data Citation Principles

The Data Citation Synthesis Group has released a draft Declaration of Data Citation Principles and invites comment.

This has been a very interesting and positive collaborative process and has involved a number of groups and committed individuals. Encouraging the practice of data citation, it seems to me, is one of the key steps towards giving research data its proper place in the literature.

As the preamble to the draft principles states:

Sound, reproducible scholarship rests upon a foundation of robust, accessible data. For this to be so in practice as well as theory, data must be accorded due importance in the practice of scholarship and in the enduring scholarly record. In other words, data should be considered legitimate, citable products of research. Data citation, like the citation of other evidence and sources, is good research practice.

In support of this assertion, and to encourage good practice, we offer a set of guiding principles for data citation.

Please do comment on these principles. We hope that with community feedback and support, a finalised set of principles can be widely endorsed and adopted.

Discussion on a variety of lists is welcome, of course. However, if you want the Synthesis Group to take full account of your views, please be sure to post your comments on the discussion forum.

Some notes and observations on the background to these principles

I would like to add here some notes and observations on the genesis of these principles. As has been widely observed there have been a number of groups and interested parties involved in exploring the principles of data citation for a number of years. Mentioning only some of the sources and events that affected my own thinking on the matter, there was the 2007 Micah Altman and Gary King article, in DLib, which offered ‘A Proposed Standard for the Scholarly Citation of Quantitative Data’ and Toby Green’s OECD White Paper ‘We need publishing standards for datasets and data tables’ in 2009. Micah Altman and Mercè Crosas organised a workshop at Harvard in May 2011 on Data Citation Principles. Later the same year, the UK Digital Curation Centre published a guide to citing data in 2011.

The CODATA-ICSTI Task Group on Data Citation Standards and Practices (co-chaired by Christine Borgman, Jan Brase and Sara Callaghan) has been in existence since 2010. In collaboration with the US National CODATA Committee and the Board on Research Data and Information, a major workshop was organised in August 2011, which was reported in ‘For Attribution: Developing Data Attribution and Citation Practices and Standards’.

The CODATA-ICSTI Task Group then started work on a report covering data citation principles, eventually entitled ‘Out of Cite, Out of Mind’ – drafts were circulated for comment in April 2013 and the final report was released in September 2013.

Following the first ‘Beyond the PDF’ meeting in Jan 2011 participants produced the Force11 Manifesto ‘Improving Future Research Communication and e-Scholarship’ which places considerable weight on the availability of research data and the citation of those data in the literature. At ‘Beyond the PDF II’ in Amsterdam, March 2013, a group comprising Mercè Crosas, Todd Carpenter, David Shotton and Christine Borgman produced ‘The Amsterdam Manifesto on Data Citation Principles’. In the very same week, in Gothenburg, an RDA Birds of a Feather group was discussing the more specific problem of how to support, technologically, the reliable and efficient citation of dynamically changing or growing datasets and subsets thereof. And the broader issues of the place of data and research publication were being considered in the ICSU World Data Service Working Group on Data Publication. This group has, in turn, formed the basis for an RDA Interest Group.  Oooffff!

How great a thing is collaboration?

From June 2013, as the Force11 Group was preparing its website and activities to take forward the work on the Amsterdam Manifesto, calls came in from a number of sources for these various groups and initiatives to coordinate and collaborate. This was admirably well-received and from July the ‘Data Citation Synthesis Group’ had come into being with an agreed mission statement:

The data citation synthesis group is a cross-team committee leveraging the perspectives from the various existing initiatives working on data citation to produce a consolidated set of data citation principles (based on the Amsterdam Manifesto, the CODATA and other sets of principles provided by others) in order to encourage broad adoption of a consistent policy for data citation across disciplines and venues. The synthesis group will review existing efforts and make a set of recommendations that will be put up for endorsement by the organizations represented by this synthesis group.

The synthesis group will produce a set of principles, illustrated with working examples, and a plan for dissemination and distribution. This group will not be producing detailed specifications for implementation, nor focus on technologies or tools.

As has been noted elsewhere , the group comprised 40 individuals and brought together a large number of organisations and initiatives. What followed over the summer was a set of weekly calls to discuss and align the principles. I must say, I thought these were admirably organised and benefitted considerably from participants’ efforts to prepare documents comparing the various groups’ statements. The face-to-face meeting of the group, in which a lot of detailed discussion to finalise the draft was undertaken, was hosted (with a funding contribution from CODATA) at the US National Academies of Science between the 2nd RDA Plenary and the DataCite Summer Meeting (which CODATA also co-sponsored). It has been intellectually stimulating and a real pleasure to contribute to these discussions and to witness so many informed and engaged people bashing out these issues.

The principles developed by the Synthesis Group are now open for comment and I urge as many people, researchers, editors and publishers as possible who believe that data has a place in scholarly communications to comment on them and, in due course, to endorse them and put them into practice.

Are we finally at the cusp of real change in practice? Will we now start seeing the practice of citing data sources become more and more widespread? It’s soon to say for sure, but I hope these principles, and the work on which they build, have got us to a stage where we can start really believing the change is well underway.

Call for Proposals: CODATA Task Groups 2014-16

CODATA, the ICSU Committee on Data for Science and Technology, invites proposals for new Task Groups and offers existing Task Groups the opportunity to renew their activity.

Task Groups have been established to support CODATA’s overall mission to strengthen international science for the benefit of society by promoting improved scientific and technical data management and use.  More specifically, Task Groups must remain relevant in a fast changing environment and contribute to the realisation of CODATA’s strategic objectives and activities, as articulated in the CODATA Strategic Plan, 2013-18.  For Task Groups seeking to renew their activities for a further two years, a strong case must be made for the ongoing benefits of this activity, for well-conceived and valuable future objectives as well as part achievements.  Information about existing CODATA Task Groups is available on the CODATA website.

Submissions should be made on the appropriate form for New Task Groups Proposals (CODATA TG New 2014-Form-v04-Final) or for Task Groups Renewal Proposals (CODATA TG Renewal 2014-Form-v01-Final).

Details of how proposals will be evaluated, the responsibilities of Task Groups and how CODATA supports Task Groups are provided at below and in the covering documentation to the proposal form.  The submission process is as follows.

Preliminary Submissions due 14 February 2014

Task Groups seeking to renew activities are invited to submit draft proposals for comment by the CODATA Executive Committee.  Such draft proposals should be submitted on appropriate form to Simon Hodson, CODATA Executive Director no later than 14 February 2014.  Feedback from the Executive Committee will be provided no later than 28 March 2014.  The intention of this process is to encourage the alignment of final proposals with the CODATA Strategic Plan.  Although not obligatory, groups intended to submit Task Group proposals are strongly encouraged to take advantage of this lightweight opportunity for feedback and to submit a draft, even if incomplete, so long as provides enough clear information for the Executive Committee to give considered feedback.

Final Submissions due 30 April 2014

Please submit the final, completed proposal by e-mail to Simon Hodson, CODATA Executive Director no later than 30 April 2014.

Draft and final submissions should be sent to Simon Hodson, CODATA Executive Director at:ED_CODATA

Proposals are peer reviewed and also assessed by the Executive Committee.  On this basis the Executive Committee will make recommendations to the 29th CODATA General Assembly, to be held in New Delhi, 6-7 November 2014.

This message is sent on behalf of CODATA President, Huadong Guo; Secretary General, Sara Graves; Treasurer, John Broome; Vice-Presidents Takashi Gojibori and Fedor Kuznetsov, and the CODATA Executive Committee.

Further Information: The CODATA Strategic Plan

The CODATA Strategic Plan comprises three areas of activity:

  1. Policy and Institutional Frameworks for Data: CODATA will take a lead in defining a policy agenda for scientific data, addressing national, international and diverse scientific contexts.  CODATA has established an international, expert Data Policy Committee to lead this activity.
  2. Frontiers in data science and technology: CODATA will stimulate and coordinate work in key frontiers of data science and interdisciplinary application areas.  Working with a range of partners, CODATA will initiate a series of international workshops and research activities addressing these themes.  CODATA will also expand its international education and training activities including curriculum development in data science and our initiative to encourage Early Career Data Scientists.
  3. Data strategies for international science: CODATA will support international scientific programmes, including Future Earth, to address data management needs, particularly the policies, processes, standards and technology necessary so that the scientific objectives are met and the data legacy is assured.

As part of its Proposal, the candidate Task Group should state clearly how its work will contribute to the realisation of one or more of these objectives.

Participation by scientists from around the world as members of the Task Group and in Task Group activities is strongly encouraged.  Particular attention should be given to gender balance, the participation of early career scientists, and appropriate representation from developing countries.

How CODATA Assesses and Selects Task Group Proposals

Proposals are peer reviewed and are also assessed by the Executive Committee.

The criteria used include the following:

  • The contribution to CODATA’s mission and objectives as laid out in the Strategic Plan;
  • The scientific merit of the proposed work and its value to the scientific and/or technical community;
  • The feasibility of the workplan and the merits of the deliverables proposed;
  • The existence of appropriate collaboration with other organizations of groups, ensuring the proposed work does not duplicate other activities;
  • The expertise and appropriateness of the Task Group membership, including gender balance, the participation of early career scientists, and appropriate representation from developing countries;
  • The existence of other likely sources of funding and support.

On the basis of the peer review and its own assessment, the Executive Committee makes recommendations to the General Assembly.

Proposers will be required to give either a presentation or poster at the General Assembly.  Existing Task Groups requesting renewal may not use CODATA funds in order to attend the General Assembly.  The presentation or poster may be given by a CODATA Member Delegate.  The General Assembly takes this presentation and the recommendations of the Executive Committee into account when voting to approve or reject the proposal.

How CODATA Supports Task Groups

CODATA Task Groups are peer reviewed, vetted by the Executive Committee and approved by the General Assembly: this carries with it the endorsement and authority of the international CODATA community.  At the discretion of the Executive Committee, CODATA Task Groups are eligible for modest funding support.  It is intended that seed funding and the endorsement of the CODATA community will help the Task Group find other support for its activities.  Task Groups will be provided with a space on the new CODATA website and tools to help collaboration.  Task Groups are expected to liaise regularly with the Secretariat and to use the new CODATA website to communicate their work and achievements.  CODATA Task Groups are provided with a Liaison from the Executive Committee.  The Liaison is considered an ex officio member of their Task Groups and, as such, receives copies of all correspondence and outputs.  The Liaison is in a position to provide expert advice and a link with the wider CODATA community in order to benefit the activities of the Task Group.

Responsibilities of CODATA Task Groups

CODATA Task Groups are expected to:

  1. Contribute to the realisation of the CODATA Strategic Plan and CODATA’s overall mission;
  2. Produce tangible public outputs (e.g. reports, white papers, publications, data collections, technical proposals etc) that contribute to the realisation of these objectives;
  3. Help keep information about the TG and its activities on the CODATA website up to date;
  4. Work with the Executive Director and Secretariat to communicate outputs and activities, including contributing material for blog posts and newsletters;
  5. Take advantage of the Executive Committee Liaison for expert advice and links to the wider CODATA community;
  6. Provide two progress reports (after 12 and 20 months).


CODATA Roads Task Group at the Global Geospatial Conference

A guest post from Alex de Sherbinin, CIESIN (Center for International Earth Science Information Network), Columbia University

AdSI had the privilege of representing the CODATA Global Roads Data Development Task Group at the recently completed Global Geospatial Conference (4-8 November) at the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) conference center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The conference, which had about 500 participants, was organized by the Global Spatial Data Infrastructure Association (GSDI) and Environmental Information Systems for Africa (EIS-Africa).

A lot of talent from Africa was on display in the plenary and breakout sessions, with papers addressing land cover change, conflict prevention systems involving a combination of SMS text and geospatial technologies, geospatial education, and spatial data infrastructure development, among many other topics. Rwanda is one country that has made major investments in ICT and spatial data. Apparently each school in the country has at least one computer connected to the internet, and it is also the site of a geospatial reasoning education pilot test program with collaborators from Rochester Institute of Technology and the National University of Rwanda.

My primary purpose in attending was to make African colleagues aware of the availability of the Global Roads Open Access Data Set (gROADS) version 1 data release, which includes improved roads data for many countries in Africa, and to present work completed under the auspices of the Task Group on roads data development methodologies. These include the compilation of best available public domain data, digitization and semi-automated extraction of roads from remote sensing imagery, field based mapping using PDAs/smart phones and global positioning systems (GPSes), and crowd sourcing on the Internet.


At the end of the presentation I made a pitch for open data, meaning data that is free of restrictions on dissemination and use. The paper was well received and further conversations with UNECA and others at the conference revealed additional roads data sources for a gROADS version 2. I was particularly gratified to learn that the Democratic Republic of Congo has put their entire roads data set online free of restrictions. In terms of follow up, colleagues at UNECA’s Geoinformation Section expressed interest in collaborating with the CODATA Task Group, and the task group will be following up on that and other leads for possible funding.

Geospatial data and technologies are evolving rapidly, and a number of major software companies held sessions describing new products. I attended all or part of sessions featuring Esri’s ArcGIS online, Google Map Engine, and Intergraph’s range of spatial products. After a plenary talk by a Google Maps representative, a national mapping agency (NMA) representative asked pointedly if there would still be a role for NMAs in the future. Later in the conference, Dave Coleman, the GSDI President, stated that much like people begin to think that eggs come from the supermarket, many also think that maps come from Google. But the reality is of course that those data still need to be produced somewhere, ensuring an important role for NMAs and other data developers.

Several talks and plenary presentations addressed the “mobile revolution”, in which map information is available on hand held devices and smart phones for use anywhere. Africa has bypassed the old style infrastructure of land lines, and now a surprising proportion of the population has cell phones and smart phones. A wide range of spatial data collection is now taking place on smart phones equipped with data entry software (such as that available from FormHub). Two countries in Africa – South Africa and Nigeria – also have remote sensing satellites. So these are exciting days indeed for data development in Africa.

Beyond the conference venue, I found myself reflecting on the dizzying pace of change in Addis and other major cities in Africa. The Chinese are building a new light rail system and residential and office blocks are rising everywhere. Conference presenters mentioned that African economies have among the most rapid rates of growth anywhere in the world and overseas investors are flocking there. Land grabbing for commercial agriculture is taking place in many countries, a relatively new phenomenon and one that promises to accelerate migration to the continent’s cities. I commented to more than one person that as a New Yorker, I feel like I am living in a sleepy backwater by comparison!

In closing, I would like to thank CODATA for the opportunity to travel to the conference, my Task Group colleagues Sives Govandar (EIS-Africa) and Harlan Onsrud (GSDI) for organizing an excellent conference, and our Ethiopian colleagues for their hospitality. A crowning moment was watching Harlan Onsrud break the ice at the closing banquet by perfectly mirroring the dance moves of a gyrating Ethiopian dancer. Before long everyone was on the dance floor enjoying themselves!