PC: When looking at developing a robust, enabling and joined up architecture support to the eResearch sector in NZ it is useful to look at three stands of investment: Connectivity/Content/Capability (we probably also need to add Continuity). The focus of the government recently has been on the “connectivity “e.g. rollout of UFB, N4L, rather than the “content strand” or the “capability strand”. We need to invest in the whole system for example, if we don’t have capability, then investments in connectivity and content will go to waste.
PC: To me the lack of a clear policy for eResearch is currently the biggest threat to the NZ science system since the unacceptable loss of unique research and data experienced when the DSIR was restructures in the 1980s. This must never happen again. We need to think about how to support the changing patterns of research and how knowledge and data is transferred and exchanged over time. We are seeing a move away from scholarship and research conducted by individuals to a more collaborative, cross-border, technology driven knowledge exchange. Currently we lack a cohesive national plan and policy framework which would mitigate the prospect of unacceptable loss of unique data, research and human capital.
PC: Lincoln University has taken steps to share its considerable intellectual capital, largely funded by the public purse, more widely in the public domain through a far reaching Open Access policy (August 2013). It has become NZ’s first “open data” university (the policy has been enacted, and implementation is beginning). We can expect that open data will significantly disrupt the current academic model of individual researcher datasets and peer-review publishing. I hope that eResearch 2020 will be the catalyst for creation of “clear policy positions around open data and open research (for publically funded research).”
PC: Issues also exist with incentives in data and eResearch. Especially at CRIs where there is potential for conflict between the needs of an “open data policy” and the need to create business outcomes from major assets such as large datasetss.
PC: The proposed Lincoln Hub provides an exceptional opportunity for both sharing and protecting the unique intellectual output of over 900 scientists focussing on land based research across the Lincoln Hub. The is an opportunity to share services and build an enabling e-research infrastructure across the hub and grow capacity and capability in the management, curation, dissemination and long term public access to the data sets produced. The Lincoln Hub which involves Lincoln University, DairyNZ and CRIs AgResearch, Plant & Food Research, and Landcare Research, aims to build an exemplar for a national shared digital and information infrastructure across all the national institutions. The Lincoln Hub isn’t seeking to replicate existing infrastructure elsewhere, for example, the Hub would leverage services and capability from NeSI, REANNZ and potentially purchase data preservation as a service (DPAAS) from the DIA through the National Library.
PC: One of the really difficult issues that the proposed Lincoln Hub DATA project seeks to resolve is the long term preservation of the data produced by researchers. To ensure enduring access to data produced, we need to take steps to ensure that the context and continuity is not lost over time. In relation to the preservation of data there are still many complex issues to resolve. This is an international issue and the proposed Lincoln Hub DATA project will leverage the world leading capability in New Zealand as well as working with the Ex Libris Group in Israel who worked closely with the National Library of NZ 2007-10 in developing their digital preservation capability .The digital preservation solution developed (Rosetta) offers the ability to migrate a digital object to new formats over time while ensuring the integrity and context are not lost and its continued usability and continuity is ensured .The NZ Government invested $24m in building the National Library of NZ’s capability in digital preservation and a further 12.3m NZD for the development of the Government Digital Archive in 2010. This sustained investment has ensured that the public sector has an internationally regarded reputation and capability in digital preservation. Potentially, the national research infrastructure 2020 vision for the future could leverage this capability through the Digital Preservation as a Service (DPaaS) business case which is currently being developed and considered by the Department of Internal Affairs
PC: Data preservation really means continuity of usability of data, not just static archiving or the “back-up” we typically think of. Penny aims for Lincoln, working with the National Library and Ex Libris, to develop an exemplar of data preservation that can eventually scale to a national level, and therefore DPAAS can grow from a Lincoln Hub – National Library prototype to a national approach for research data.
PC:. If this goes ahead, there will be a significant opportunity for New Zealand, and for NeSI and REANNZ in particular, to develop talent and capability which will be of benefit to the research sector.
PC: In the “open data” conversation, we have encountered some “push back” from those researchers or have reservations about making their data ‘Open”. There is a real need to develop capability in the management and curation of research data generally and there is an opportunity for national services and tools to support researchers. Individual institutions might struggle to grow this capability on their own because different fields of research can often have very different needs so there is an issue of scale.
Revisit themes: What are the barriers to collaboration that we need to be addressing in 2013 if we are to unlock potential in the science system out to 2020?
PC: Major barriers (to collaboration) include leadership and direction that doesn’t understand collaboration. There is a real need in NZ for policy cohesiveness that doesn’t stifle researchers. Barriers are systemic and due to poor policy positions – the barriers are institutional rather than individual. The goal is reduction or removal of policy, leadership, and institutional barriers – and then I believe collaboration will occur at an organic level. We need all parties to understand that all parties will benefit if all threats are removed.
PC: as an example, the principles of Aus/NZ CER agreements have proven very good at removing threats to independence and sovereignty while at the same time delivering benefits to each partners and leaving everyone relaxed and free to collaborate. These principles, adopted within the science system, may be just as effective at fostering collaboration.
PC: Sovereignty and the physical location of data is something that I feel very strongly about. When DSIR was disestablished we suffered an unacceptable loss of data and intellectual capital of enormous importance to the continuity of science research in NZ . PC worries about data unique to NZ’s interests moving off-shore. If data is moved off shore, we are not able to ensure continuity of usability. There is no guarantee that data stored in a foreign database will be available or usable in a 100 years’ time. The requirement is for an enduring and trusted institution in New Zealand to fulfil this role. This is not a straightforward issue because NZ scientists contribute to massive international collaborations and data agreggations.
The Lincoln Hub is major infrastructure initiative – what are the chief risks you’ve identified?
PC: even though the Lincoln Hub could potentially make a significant contribution to e-research infrastructure in NZ the biggest risks may not be technical ones but may centre on people and culture. If the 900 scientists remain unconvinced by the benefits of the proposed DATA project, or research funding does not support “Open” and the sharing of data, or if the cultures of the Hub organisations prove too difficult to amalgamate, then many of the gains from colocation and integrated data and physical infrastructure may not be realised.