The challenges – as well as the opportunities – of open data are affecting more and more researchers, and regardless of the discipline, the same questions come up again and again: Can I open the research data I have collected? What does it require? How to deal with sensitive material? In March 2021, the University of Helsinki’s Data Support, in cooperation with data repositories, organized a webinar that brought together researchers and data management experts from various fields. The webinar focused on what it takes to open data and how open materials can be used. This blog post sums up the event.
If you could choose one way to advance opening data (regardless of costs), what would it be? Francesca Morello would choose data stewards as part of every research group: ”Data steward, as an expert professional, would be capable to support researchers’ choices on daily bases and could help them promote the optimal reuse of their data: both positive results but also negative findings.” Morello is one of the speakers at the webinar event ”What it takes: Open your research data” that takes place on 25 March 2021.
After Laji.fi portal was opened in 2015, it has become a weekly tool for biologist and journalist Jouni Tikkanen as he searches for basic information on the Finnish species. Tikkanen hopes that also Finnish National Forest Inventory (VMI) data will also be opened up, as it would offer great opportunities for non-researchers as well: ”With that data as a groundwork I could build both magazine articles, podcast series and books.”
”The greatest benefit [of open data] is that we do not know. We don’t know where, how and when the data will be used once they has been opened. That said, certain safeguards need to be in place for datasets containing sensitive information. But it does not change the idea; when these datasets are made available, as openly as possible, there is a lot of potential for future use”, says Tuomas Alaterä, Senior Specialist at the Finnish Social Science Data Archive (Tietoarkisto), who has extensive work experience in the areas of digital preservation, open data and data services to support research.
”I think open research data promotes honesty and transparency in science. Once a data set is well described, citable and available on clear terms, it is easy to discover and to reuse, and studies done on the data set are easier to replicate and to improve on”, says Mietta Lennes, Project Planning Officer for FIN-CLARIN consortium, which coordinates the Language Bank of Finland (Kielipankki). Lennes is one of the speakers at the webinar event ”What it takes: Open your research data” that takes place on 25 March 2021.
”I wish that the funding bodies and publishers would not only demand for research data to be dumped in an open repository as it is, but it should be required that the data is stored in an open access repository in a standard data format(s), so that it can be found and reused”, says Kari Lahti, a director of Biodiversity Informatics Unit at the Luomus. Lahti is one of the speakers at the webinar event ”What it takes: Open your research data” that takes place on 25 March 2021.
There are several reasons and benefits to open data for both researchers as well as for society. However, when the demand for opening data has grown rapidly, researchers might feel left alone with the problems, that is, how, where and what to open. This article describes the obstacles and opportunities for opening data – including the beautiful example of the the Carte du Ciel project.