John Wood: Candidacy for CODATA Executive Committee

This is the first in the series of short statements from candidates in the forthcoming CODATA Elections. John Wood has been prominent in the data community for a number of years.  He has served on the Council of the Research Data Alliance and chaired the influential ‘Riding the Wave Report’ for the European Commission.  He is currently Secretary General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities which has been a strong supporter of the CODATA-RDA School of Research Data Science <http://www.codata.org/working-groups/research-data-science-summer-schools>.  John is nominated by the UK CODATA National Committee.

I am putting myself forward for election since I firmly believe in the power of data sharing to John Wood 2
potentially change the lives of peoples and countries in the developing world and the crucial role of CODATA in helping this transformation to take place. This may sound idealistic but I have been working as an adviser to the European Commission for several years to ensure that Open Science is linked to development and the delivery of the current United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Among other things I would see my chief role on the executive of helping CODATA deliver its strategy in this area since I have extensive experience of working in developing countries in addition to having many years of dealing with government officials world-wide.

My background is as an academic materials scientist with an interest in non-equilibrium processing and structural characterisation using various diffraction and thermal techniques. My last full time academic post was as head of the Faculty of Engineering, Imperial College London.

Prior to that I was chief executive of the UK Central Laboratories based at the Rutherford-John Wood 1Appleton Laboratory in Oxfordshire where I first became aware of the impact of data and data sharing in the early 200s. I was the lead Research Council spokesman on Open Access and appeared before UK and European Parliamentary bodies and publishers’ organisations to defend Open Access. At the same time I became chair of the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures and suggested and produced the first European Roadmap. During this time I became chair of the Support for Research Committee of the Joint Information Services Committee of the UK which supported the Data Curation Centre and a number of institutional repositories in Universities. As chief executive I had responsibility for the UK interest in a number of global projects including in the US, Japan, India and China.

The European Commission asked me to chair two important high level boards towards the end of 2000s. The first, the European Research Area Board produced a large number of recommendations that have been subsequently been incorporated into Horizon 2020 especially those relating to embedding e-science globally. The second produced the “Riding the Wave” report that ultimately led to the creation of the Research Data Alliance of which I am the global co-chair. I was also responsible for the follow up report “The Data Harvest.” As co-chair of the RDA I have had extensive discussions with the president of CODATA and the executive director on how we can support each other. I have a personal interest in the joint RDA-CODATA activity on “Data for development.” I will have served my turn as co-chair next spring and I wish to devote more time to the area of data for delivery of the SDGs in the future.

My current role is as Secretary-General of the Association of Commonwealth Universities which is a group of over 500 universities across the world with the majority being in developing countries. In this role I have become familiar with many of the issues facing developing countries and have given extensive talks on the need for Open Science and in these countries. I was asked by the South African Government to chair their Research Roadmap Report three years ago where we did extensive analysis of the needs of both South African and the rest of Southern Africa with respect to data sharing.

I currently chair the Advisory Board of ATTRACT which brings together several European Laboratories (EIROFORUM) together to exploit Open Science for Open Innovation focusing on sensors, instrumentation and data. Many of the projects supported to data are linked with societal challenges.

I am a committed internationalist having worked and visited with colleagues in every continent (except Antarctica). I am regularly asked by governments and research funding agencies in other countries to participate in review panels so I have a wide view of the context of how decisions are made globally. Perhaps to emphasise the point I also have honorary doctorates from Universities in Romania, India, Ghana and Nigeria in addition to a federal award from the German government. I believe it would be good to use much of this experience to support the work of CODATA.

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