Data treasures with high value for society: systematically making research data accessible and reusable

GWK is funding three consortia within the “National Research Data Infrastructure” initiative in which TIB is significantly involved as co-applicant

Research data provide a wealth of information – a valuable resource for science and research. To harness this great potential, data must be publicly accessible and reusable. This is the aim of the planned National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI).

The Joint Science Conference (GWK) decided on 26 June 2020 which subject consortia will receive funding in the first selection round of the NFDI: TIB – Leibniz Information Centre for Science and Technology is involved in three of the consortia recommended for funding: the Chemistry Consortium (NFDI4Chem), the Consortium for Research Data on Material and Immaterial Cultural Heritage (NFDI4Culture) and the National Research Data Infrastructure for Engineering Sciences (NFDI4Ing). TIB will play a key role in shaping the NFDI from the very beginning. As of 1 October 2020, the consortia will receive funding for a period of five years, with the option of a five-year extension.

Linking individual NFDI initiatives

“The NFDI initiatives intend to create a joint research data infrastructure for all branches of science and the humanities. Since we at TIB are already developing and operating services that can be used by different specialist communities, we will particularly concentrate on ensuring the interoperability and interconnection of the individual initiatives’ infrastructures. Semantic description and the cross-referencing and linking of research data with terminologies and ontologies, the Open Research Knowledge Graph and also persistent identifiers and digital preservation will play a major role in this process,” explained TIB Director Professor Dr. Sören Auer, who is delighted about the success of the proposals.

The aim of creating a National Research Data Infrastructure is to ensure that scientific and research data, which until now has been distributed in a decentralised way, is made findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable for the German science system in the future. This way research data will become a wealth of information available for use by academics from all disciplines, creating added value for society.

Making research data systematically accessible

The National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI) was initiated by the Joint Science Conference (GWK) at the suggestion of the German Council for Scientific Information Infrastructures (RfII). It is financed by the German federal and state governments. The objective of the NFDI is to create a dynamic network of infrastructures and services, distributed across the nation, for managing research data generated by the German science system. Researchers will be taken on board to develop the NFDI from the outset. They will be encouraged to express their needs, ideas, wishes and application scenarios, and to cooperate closely with the infrastructure facilities implementing the NFDI. This will ensure that existing structures and services can be interlinked more effectively and supplemented by additional services.

A total of up to €90 million in funding is available per year for the period from 2019 to 2028. The selection process for consortia encompasses three rounds between 2019 and 2021.

The Chemistry Consortium (NFDI4Chem) –

The Chemistry Consortium (NFDI4Chem) consists of dedicated data producers and users from university and non-university research, infrastructure institutions and learned societies for chemistry. The consortium is led jointly by Dr. Oliver Koepler (TIB) and Professor Dr. Christoph Steinbeck (Jena University). The vision of NFDI4Chem is to digitise all key steps in chemical research in order to support scientists in their efforts to collect, analyse, sustainably store, publish and reuse research data in agreement with the FAIR data principles, according to which research data should be findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable.

The Consortium for Research Data on Material and Immaterial Cultural Heritage (NFDI4Culture) –

The aim of NFDI4Culture is to establish a demand-oriented infrastructure for research data on material and immaterial cultural assets. This includes 2D digitised reproductions of paintings, photographs and drawings as well as 3D digital models of culturally and historically important buildings, monuments or audiovisual data of music, film and stage performances. Concept and structure of the consortium were developed over two years in an open process and in close cooperation between 11 professional societies, 9 supporting institutions and 52 partners. The consortium addresses the needs of a broad spectrum of disciplines from architecture, art, music, theatre, dance, film and media studies. The architect Prof. Dr. Ina Blümel (TIB) coordinates the TIB's contribution, which includes the development of a monitoring infrastructure for the workflow from digitisation to data enrichment, provision and re-use (in collaboration with Stiftung Preußischer Kulturbesitz) and the implementation of the central NFDI4Culture Knowledge Graph (in collaboration with FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz Institute for Information Infrastructure).

The National Research Data Infrastructure for Engineering Sciences (NFDI4Ing) –

The aim of NFDI4Ing is to create a common environment for the safe management and reuse of engineering research data. Initiated by a bottom-up process, NFDI4Ing offers a unique method-oriented and user-centred approach using so-called archetypes. These archetypes describe research methods and processes used in engineering subdisciplines.

Within NFDI4Ing, TIB takes on the role of an infrastructure and research partner. In collaboration with Forschungszentrum Jülich, TIB manages a research initiative to develop a semantic framework for the machine-processable representation and reproduction of scientific concepts in the area of “extensive & heterogeneous data requirements”. In collaboration with TU Darmstadt, RWTH Aachen University, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Leibniz Universität Hannover and the University of Stuttgart, TIB also coordinates the provision of “Base Services” for the consortium. Examples of base services include the development of a terminology service for managing ontologies and the development of research data training concepts for engineers.