Monthly Archives: July 2015

Mark Thorley Appointed to the Committee on Freedom and Responsibility in the Conduct of Science

DSC_1777This post is by Mark Thorley, a member of the CODATA Executive Committee and Chair of the CODATA Data Policy Committee.

It is an honour and a privilege to be invited to become a member of the International Council for Science’s Committee on Freedom and Responsibility in the Conduct of Science (CFRS).

The CFRS serves as the guardian of the ICSU Principle of the Universality of Science and undertakes a variety of actions to defend scientific freedoms and to promote integrity and responsibility in the conduct of science. The universality of science in its broadest sense is about developing a truly global scientific community on the basis of equity and non-discrimination. It is also about ensuring that science is trusted and valued by societies across the world. As such, it incorporates issues related to the conduct of science; capacity building; science education and literacy; the relationship between science and society; and crucially, equitable access to data and information and other resources for research.

My contribution to the work of the CFRS will be built on my broad experience and expertise in open access, research data management and related policy development and implementation. Key to this is my understanding of the landscape of open access and research data, from the technical through to the strategic, and the resulting implications for researchers and research organisations.

The provision of open access to scientific results is an important part of the responsibility of science in the modern age, as both a hedge against scientific fraud and for developing science as a public good. Open research data are both a pre-requisite of supporting open and transparent research, and also an opportunity for new areas of research and innovation. I am keen that through the work of the CFRS and CODATA we can develop robust and pragmatic guidance for the research community on how to ensure that research data are wherever possible made openly available for use by others in a manner consistent with relevant legal, ethical and regulatory frameworks and norms.

icsu-logoI have been working in research data management since 1990 and in open access policy development and implementation since 2006, and am currently Head of Science Information for the UK’s Natural Environment Research Council. I am one of the Research Council UK policy leads in Open Access and scholarly communications, where I have been prominent in the development and implementation of RCUK’s Open Access policy. I am a member of the advisory board for the Nature Publishing Group journal ‘Scientific Data’, and was one of the experts who contributed to the recent ICSU statement on Open Access to scientific data and literature and the assessment of research by metrics. I also helped develop the OECD’s Principles and Guidelines for Access to Research Data from Public Funding.

I am also a member of the Executive Committee of CODATA, and I see this appointment very much as recognition of the work that myself and colleagues within CODATA have done to develop the agenda of open research data.

My appointment to the CFRS is for three years from this October.

More information about the work for the CFRS is available from the ICSU website (

Preparation Underway of the Second Edition of the Atlas of the Earth’s Magnetic Field

Alena Rybkina

This post is by Alena Rybkina, a member of the CODATA Executive Committee, of the CODATA Early Career Data Professionals Group, and a participant in the Task Group on Earth and Space Science Data Interoperability.

The ‘Task Group on Earth and Space Science Data Interoperability’ (TG-ESSDI) published an electronic version of the first edition of the Atlas of the Earth’s Magnetic Field in 2013. It includes a unified set of physical, geographic, thematic, and historical materials for a detailed study of the geomagnetic field from 1500 to 2010. The Atlas is intended for a wide range of scientists, teachers, students and experts in applied areas relating to the geosciences, including geologists and geophysicists studying geomagnetism. The Atlas is a unique cartographic product that contains comprehensive and scientifically grounded characteristics of geomagnetic phenomenon, and contains the results of historical and modern studies of the Earth’s magnetic field.

Atlas of Earth's Magnetic Field, First Edition, 2013In May 2015, with support from CODATA and hosted by ICSU, TG-ESSDI organised an international workshop on ‘The Atlas of the Earth’s Magnetic Field. Second Edition’. The meeting was designed as a launch event for the project to create the second edition of The Atlas, with the aim of significantly extending the content of The Atlas. The list of participants included specialists in the geomagnetic studies with representatives from the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris, the Commission for the Geological Map of the World (CGMW), the International Association of Geomagnetism and Aeronomy (IAGA), and the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG) etc.

The workshop resulted in a document that is expected to become the base for the content of the Second Edition. It was agreed to include following new or extended chapters:

  • Current knowledge of the magnetic field. Main field. From ~8000 to 2020.
  • SWARM data (satellite was launched by ESA in November 2013)
  • Regional scale maps (including Arctic and Antarctic maps)
  • Magnetic fields of the Solar System: Sun, Mars and other planets
  • Applications of the magnetic field data (drilling, navigation, GPS, dykes etc)

Anomalies of the Earth`s crustA further meeting organised to coincide with the 26th General Assembly of the International Union of Geodesy and Geophysics (IUGG), which was held from 22 June to 2 July 2015 in Prague, Czech Republic. The conference was characterised by the central theme: ‘Earth and Environmental Sciences for Future Generations’.  A presentation about the Second Edition of the Atlas was given by Alena Rybkina and feedback was received through subsequent discussions and working meetings organised by TG-ESSDI. As a result of these discussions, it was decided, for example, to extend the historical chapter of the Atlas and include historical charts from Spain, from the magnetic observatory of Barcelona, as well as from South Africa, Czech Republic and other locations. Thus the Second Edition of the Atlas will extend its geographic reach and become an even more important and valuable project for the magnetic field and earth data community.


Data at Risk and Data Rescue

This post is by Elizabeth Griffin, chair of the CODATA Data at Risk Task Group, and – as she explains below – now co-chair of the related RDA Interest Group on Data Rescue.

codata_logoThe CODATA Data at Risk Task Group (DAR-TG) has suddenly got much larger! It has now become affiliated to the Research Data Alliance, through the formation of an RDA Interest Group for “Data Rescue”.

The combined group (known as IG-DAR-TG) shares all the same scientific principles, the same objectives (and even the same ‘language’) as its natal CODATA Task Group for “Data At Risk”; the two Groups will maintain their own identities within the merged affiliated one, but share the benefits of the two supporting organisations.

The topic of “Data Rescue” is becoming recognized as vitally important to researchers, particularly in matters of climate change and global warming. Just about every scientific study can benefit substantially from being able to access to its heritage data at some point, for some purpose.

RDA_Logotype_CMYKData Rescue involves two strands of data management:

  1. the recovery and digitization of analogue data – those too historic to have been born-digital – and;
  2. adding essential value to archives of (mostly early) electronic ones – metadata, format information, access.

Accounts of the successful recovery and upgrading or digitization of holder data brim over with the unique scientific benefits, which then improve the sort of modelling that is critical for predicting future conditions. It’s a win-win situation, so why are “Data Rescue” initiatives even necessary?  This is:

  1. because the challenges of extracting data and information from outmoded, analogue technology can be considerable;
  2. because this process generally requires important information about the platform and mode of gathering data that can be very hard to reconstruct; and,
  3. because such initiatives also need to counter a general disbelief that they even exist or could ever be scientifically useful. It is important to counter the widespread assumption that all data of value are born-digital.

We hope and plan that that new Data Rescue initiative will waken up the world to the huge potential waiting to be recovered! Please join us, either through the CODATA Task Group “Data At Risk” or the RDA branch “Data Rescue”.

Rescuing Legacy Data for Future Science

This post is by Elizabeth Griffin, chair of the CODATA Data at Risk Task Group.

EGU_LOGOEvery two years, climate scientists at Elsevier (New York) and IEDA (Integrated Earth Data Applications, Columbia University), jointly support and award the International Data Rescue Award in the Geosciences for the best project that describes the ‘rescue’ of heritage data in the context of the geosciences. The result of the competition for 2014-15 was announced at the annual meeting of the European Geosciences Union (EGU), held in April in Vienna. The strength and scope of the competition had increased significantly since the 2013 one.

A shortlist of four was announced in Vienna: with three receiving ‘honourable mention’.  The winner of the 2015 International Data Rescue Award in the Geosciences was British Macrofossils Online, a Jisc-funded project from the British Geological Survey to create a fully electronic catalogue of all the fossil collections in UK museums and similar repositories. The project team consisted of Mike Howe, Caroline Buttler, Dan Pemberton, Eliza Howlett, Tim McCormick, Simon Harris and Michela Contessi working alongside a number of other contributors.2015-International-Data-Rescue-Award

During the same ceremony, a Special Issue of an online journal, GeoResJ, was launched: it was given over entirely to descriptions of data rescue projects, and featured a six-page introductory article by the CODATA “Data At Risk” Task Group (DAR-TG) team, entitled ‘When are Old Data New Data?’.

GeoResJOpening the meeting in Vienna, Dr Elizabeth Griffin (Chair, DAR-TG) explained and illustrated the considerable scientific importance of recovering scientific information that was recorded before the electronic age, and what CODATA (through its TG) was attempting to do towards stimulating many more data recovery efforts. The visibility which the evening afforded to the DAR-TG and to CODATA itself was very valuable, the event presenting a memorable complement of rationale, endeavour and achievement. Open publicity of this nature is one of the goals of the DAR-TG; it is essential for spreading the word about undertaking and (then) coordinating efforts to bring archived, nearly lost, or almost unreadable data back into full service.