Monthly Archives: August 2014

CODATA at the ICSU General Assembly, Auckland, New Zealand

I am at the ICSU (International Council for Science) General Assembly in Auckland, New Zealand, 31 Aug – 3 Sept 2014. ICSU has been described here as ‘the United Nations for Science’. As such it provides an international voice for the importance and role of science in human society, internationally. Its mission is ‘to strengthen international science for the benefit of society’ and as such the role of science in supporting evidence-based policy making is a big theme.  CODATA, of course, is part of the ‘ICSU family’: were are an interdisciplinary body of ICSU and we were established in 1966 as the ICSU Committee on Data for Science and Technology. CODATA supports the ICSU mission ‘by promoting improved scientific data management as use’.


This is my first time at an ICSU General Assembly and it is fascinating to see the workings of this international, non-governmental organisation that brings together scientists from all around the world.

CODATA is heavily involved in various activities at this ICSU General Assembly…

Already, yesterday, Sunday 31 August, I was on a panel to discuss with ICSU’s National and International Scientific Union members a draft report – towards which CODATA and ICSU-WDS have contributed – which will lay out ICSU’s position on the issues of Open Access, Open Scientific Data and the use metrics for the evaluation of scientific contributions. The group putting together the report was chaired by John Ball of the University of Oxford: among others Mark Thorley, CODATA EC Member; John Helliwell, IUCr Delegate to CODATA; Mustapha Mokrane, ED of ICSU-WDS and I all contributed to the report.

Today, Mon 1 Sept 2014, I shall – very rapidly – introduce the CODATA Poster as part of the ‘Poster Expresso’ event!

SaOE ReportThis evening, CODATA is co-organising, with the Royal Society, a side event on Open Science and Open Data. This will feature an introductory presentation from CODATA President Huadong Guo and then a discussion of the Open Data agenda from Geoffrey Boulton. A panel featuring representatives of ICSU members countries as well as of the Global Young Academy will respond to the issues. The meeting will be chaired by Kari Raivio, Past President of the Finnish Academy of Sciences and former Vice President of ICSU.

Kari Raivio also chaired the ICSU Review of CODATA which will be the subject of a session at the ICSU GA tomorrow, Tue 2 Sept 2014. Professor Raivio will outline the process for the review and the findings and recommendations of the report. CODATA President Professor Huadong Guo will then provide our response and show how we have already put into practice many of these recommendations.

CODATA Workshop on Open Data for Science and Sustainability in Developing Countries

1280px-Flag_of_Kenya.svgI am currently in Nairobi, Kenya, for the CODATA Workshop on Open Data for Science and Sustainability in Developing Countries (SSDC), 6-8 August 2014.  This workshop has been organised by the longstanding CODATA Task Group on Preservation of and Access to Scientific and Technical Data in/for/with Developing Countries (or PASTD for short!)

This Task Group has organised an impressive series of research and training workshops in a host of developing countries over the last decade or so.  Some of these are listed on the Task Group’s page.

The Nairobi SSDC workshop is hosted at the United Nations Offices in Nairobi and supported by a number of organisations, including UNESCO and Kenyan Ministry of Information and CommunicationGEO, the Group on Earth Observations have provided funds for delegates from Tanzania and Madagascar to attend.  The ICSU World Data System and the Research Data Alliance are also represented.  See the Workshop Site for the full list of co-organisers and supporting organisations.

The purpose of the Nairobi SSCD Workshop is threefold:

    1. to describe and showcase the accomplishments of the participating organizations and other contributors in using research data and ICTs and in developing open knowledge environments to reduce the digital research divide during the last ten years. 
    2. to describe the strategies and future objectives of the sponsoring and participating organizations and discuss their common interests in this area, with special consideration for the UN’s post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and ICSU’s Future Earth research program in developing countries. 
    3. Develop and endorse a Guideline for Implementation of Principles of Preservation of and Open Access to Research Data in Developing Counties.

CODATA Logo-BestIt will be interesting to help prepare the principles and the guideline on implementation in the context of an African perspective on the needs for and equity of Open data.  I hope to learn a great deal this week and I hope that what comes out of this workshop can have a positive impact on genuinely international movement towards Open data culture and practice.  I shall draw attention to the Principles and Guidelines when they are available.

The workshop is preceded by a two-day training workshop, hosted by the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology.  The workshop will cover Open data principles and policy, issues of Intellectual Property, as well as practical training sessions in data analysis, particularly relating to geospatial data.

It promises to be an exciting week – more soon I hope!