DANS Symposium on the Future of Scholarly Communications – and the benefits of time to think

I was in the Hague yesterday (Monday 20 January) for a meeting with DANS and the 3TU Data.Centrum.  It was a generously accorded opportunity for me to communicate plans for the future of CODATA and discuss membership.  I have worked a lot with Dutch colleagues over the past few years in the context of Knowledge Exchange and I think some inspiring work is going on in the Netherlands.  In particular, I am impressed by the partnership of these two organisations in Research Data Netherlands and also in the way DANS and 3TU have aimed to respond to the Riding the Wave report to develop a partnership and a federated data infrastructure based upon the distribution of back office and front office functions.DANS FO-BO

The occasion for this visit was an excellent symposium by DANS visiting fellows, Andrew Treloar @atreloar and Herbert van der Sompel @hvdsomp, on Riding the Wave and The Scholarly Archive of the Future.  The joint presentation, and the structured discussions, were the result of ten days of dedicated thinking and working together.

@atreloar presents dimensions of change in scholarly practice and communications.

@atreloar presents dimensions of change in scholarly practice and communications.

Andrew and Herbert took as a starting point four functions of research communication suggested by Rosendaal and Geurts in 1997: registration, certification, awareness and archiving.  They analysed changes in each of these functions and came up with a typology characterising dimensions of change in scholarly practice and communications.  The key features of these changes are an increasing variety in the object of communication and a disaggregation of the processes that comprise communication – particularly of those, perhaps, that perform the registration, ‘certification’ and awareness functions in the Rosendaal/Geurts typology.

@hvdsomp presents the emerging 'recording' and 'archiving' infrastructure

@hvdsomp presents the emerging ‘recording’ and ‘archiving’ infrastructure

The implications of this for ‘recording’ and ‘archiving’ infrastructure were represented in a diagram.  The challenge for data archives is to interface and interoperate effectively with new, emerging, disaggregated systems for scholarly communication, filtering, and annotation – while retaining (and sustaining) the necessary archiving functions.

Andrew and Herbert were clear that this work was ‘thinking in progress’.  Indeed, I think that was what made the event so interesting.  It was genuinely refreshing to engage with some relatively unhindered and untethered thinking.  Moreover, it was imaginative and bold for the event to be organised in such a way, in the conviction that colleagues from DANS, 3TU Data.Centrum and others involved in data archiving need to imagine the archive of the future and would benefit in this from the insights of invited experts who had been given time to think…