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42nd Meeting of the German Data Forum: Exchange on Research Infrastructures – RatSWD welcomes recommendations of the RfII

On 23-24 June 2016, the German Data Forum (Rat für Sozial- und Wirtschaftsdaten, RatSWD) met with relevant stakeholders for a dialogue on the future development of national and international research infrastructures. There was a consensus that existing structures should be closely tied into future coordination efforts. Specific solutions for certain disciplines should not be replaced by generic approaches and any national activities should be made internationally compatible from the onset.

The German Data Forum very much welcomes the recommendations on research data management which were recently published by the Council for Scientific Information Infrastructures (Rat für Informationsinfrastrukturen, RfII). Further cooperation was agreed upon.

Digitalization is rapidly increasing the amount of research data available to scientists. Handling of research data is still insufficiently governed by common standards – this lack of interoperability continues to be a burden for researchers. In light of the heterogeneity of research infrastructures in Germany, the pivotal question remains how to ensure efficient and sustainable handling of research data. During its 42nd meeting, the German Data Forum initiated a debate on the future design of the research infrastructure in Germany by inviting several guests to a dialogue. They included:

  • Dr. Ricarda Opitz, head of the science division of the Leibniz Association, for the Roadmap Research Infrastructures of the Leibniz Association
  • Dr. Irina Sens, deputy manager of TIB Hanover (Leibniz Information Centre for Science and Technology), for the German National Data Service (GNDS) project and the initiatives from the Research Data Alliance (RDA). The aim of the GNDS is to establish a general infrastructure which pools existing projects. These efforts do not only include connecting data archives, but also services and training.
  • Dr. Irina Sens, TIB Hanover, also respresented the European Data Infrastructure (EUDAT) and the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC). She stood in for Dr. Lautenschlager, head of the department Data Management at the German Climate Computing Centre (DKRZ).
  • Dr. Alexia Katsanidou, head of the data archive at GESIS – Leibniz-Institute for the Social Sciences and member of the Board of Directors of CESSDA, on European infrastructures for the social sciences. The aim of THE CESSDA Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives is to bring together and certify existing data infrastructures on a European level in order to provide services to researchers.
  • • Prof. Dr. Otto Rienhoff, chair of the RfII Council for Scientific Information Infrastructures, who presented the council’s position paper on structures, processes, and funding of research data management in Germany (“Leistung aus Vielfalt. Empfehlungen zu Strukturen, Prozessen und Finanzierung des Forschungsdatenmanagements in Deutschland“). The central recommendation is the establishment of a national research data infrastructure (NFDI) which will contribute to bringing together the diverse existing structures, creating methodical standards, and securing long-term availability of research data.

The members clearly agreed on the importance of including established research infrastructures in any future dialogue. The German Data Forum’s chair Ms. Riphahn emphasized that established solutions for specific disciplines should not be replaced by new generic approaches on a higher level. The research data centres accredited by the German Data Forum have pioneered data access to sensitive social and economic data in accordance with the data protection regulations of their respective disciplines. Sustainable development requires that new activities are compatible with European and international networks. Everybody present agreed that the research data landscape in Germany is very heterogeneous due to many parallel developments happening at the same time. Any coordination process must be preceded by an inventory to gather comprehensive data on existing infrastructures and initiatives.

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