Does the researcher have time to manage the data? According to Susanna Nykyri, what is needed now is ”investment in time management”

Think Open 2018 revisited! The second blog post of 22 May 2018 was about the data citation roadmap and the emerging phenomenon of research data management and sharing. According to Susanna Nykyri, chief specialist at the Tampere University, recommendations like the roadmap are still important, but tangible responsibilities and resourcing are needed to implement them and support practices. This kind of realism also applies to time: ”What we value in working time planning goes hand in hand with meritocracy practices”, Nykyri says.

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The Think Open blog will be five years old in May 2023. Check out our revisits of the articles from the opening month of 2018!

”Recently published data citation roadmap for Finland demonstrates how the data citation is closely related to a number of research data issues, such as research data management, scientific publishing, and the responsible conduct of research”, was the introduction to the second Think Open blog article, Data is on its ways to a recognized research output – the roadmap guides towards better research data citation practices, in May 2018. The interviewee was Susanna Nykyri, chief specialist, whose home organisation has changed from Tampere University of Technology to Tampere University.

What has happened since the publication of the roadmap, Tracing Data – data citation roadmap for Finland (2018), Susanna Nykyri?

”Relevant guidance documents have been published and new working groups have been set up. The most significant extension, I think, is that instead of pure data, we are now talking more broadly about research materials, including source code, methods, software and research infrastructures. In the most recent RCR guidelines, research materials are explicitly included. Good research data management (RDM) and its support is also strongly emphasised in the guidelines for the openness of research data produced within the national OSCAR collaboration (Open Science and Research) network,” says Nykyri.

”Guidelines, roadmaps and recommendations are needed, but sometimes it is frustrating how long it takes to develop practices. If we want to significantly accelerate progress in the right direction, we need more practical efforts – in service development, system integration and the work of researchers. In particular, this means investing in enabling time.”

If we want to significantly accelerate progress in the right direction, we need more practical efforts – in service development, system integration and the work of researchers.

Merit practices still slow down data sharing

The article five years ago pointed out how ”by developing data citation practices, researchers and research groups who publish research data will increase their citations and get recognition for their work”. At the time, Nykyri said that merit practices do not support data sharing.

According to Susanna Nykyri, merit practices and time allocation go hand in hand. Photo: Jonne Renvall / Tampere University

”This is still true. There has been progress, but nowhere near enough. I hope and believe that this development is now being promoted on a broad front, in particular by the CoARA (Coalition for Advancing Research Assessment), which is working to develop responsible assessment (see blog post on this topic). It is not enough that a single funder, research organisation or country succeeds in changing its practices – this development must not only be profound, but also truly large-scale”, says Nykyri.

Data that is openly shared and properly referenced does not produce by itself, and for researchers it is a question of where to spend their time.

”In order for the data to be referenced and also potentially reusable and reusable, more working time needs to be invested in its processing. The key is to implement good data management as part of one’s own research. What we value in terms of working time goes hand in hand with merit practices. If a researcher’s everyday life is filled with the traditional tasks of publishing and teaching and supervising, it is untenable to add to that the pressure to produce something more. So there should be support for reducing something so that you can put more effort into something.”

”I call for action!”

Five years ago, Nykyri urged us to be proactive: it’s not worth waiting to see what others do.

”I still call for action! I also call for systematicity. For a researcher, it starts with managing your own data and respecting the work of others. And then there is this essential work of developing meritocracy. But there is much more! I hope that the ongoing work on a research reference architecture for open science will help to form a complete picture and to define concrete development measures. It is important that we have the necessary services, processes and capabilities in place at local, national and international level. The national PID roadmap (persistent identifiers) and its operationalisation will also help to increase the referability of information and outputs and the related awareness and good practices.”

However, according to Nykyri, policies need to be backed up by concrete action plans.

”In drawing them up, I would stress the need for sufficiently strong responsibilities and resources. It is not enough to identify the key activities, with possible chronological links between them. It is also important to define responsibilities, actors and resources, and to monitor progress.”

”Finally, I would like to emphasise co-creation more than ever in this time. The African proverb that has become the motto of the RDA (Research Data Alliance) fits in well with this: ’If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together'”, Nykyri concludes.

Think Open 2018 revisited: