A conversation about the importance of reforming research assessment and the potential of open science to transform research to become less competition-based and more cooperation-based.
A conversation about the importance of reforming research assessment and the potential of open science to transform research to become less competition-based and more cooperation-based.
Jo: Welcome we're here today with Tea Romih, Maja Dolinar and Ana slaved from who all engaged with the Young Academy of Slovenia. And, yeah, it's great having you, and we'll hear more about what each of you do in your daily practice as we move. Thanks for joining.
All: Thank you for inviting us. Yeah, thank you.
Jo: Okay, maybe it's better for you guys to explain how the Young Academy of Slovenia evolved, what you're currently working on, and then also what each of you is doing in your daily practices. You all have to do with data curation research, data management, and journal, and also other affiliations at the University of Ljubljana. But yeah, Tea would you like to start? Because I think we've also met and engaged first, and then you invited Maja and Anna to the conversation. It's great to have all three of you here. So Tea, what's your background and how are you engaged with Open Science and Data Management?
Tea: Thank you, Jo. So, hello, everyone. My name is Tea and I began a new career this February. So I used to be a researcher, and since February this year, I have been working at the Central Technical Library at the University of Ljubljana as an information specialist for research data. And my background is such that I did undergraduate studies in biology and then a PhD in environmental toxicology, both at the University of Ljubljana. But then due to circumstances, due to financial crisis, due to my health issues, I decided to leave science. I did return for a brief period from 2019 to this February. I worked at the National Institute of Chemistry in Analytical Chemistry, but I soon realized that my decision was correct and that I needed a change in my life. So I decided to dedicate the rest of my career to Open Science, and I was motivated by the endeavors of our society. The Young Academy of Slovenia, of which all three today's guests are members. The Young Academy of Slovenia is a national association of doctoral students and early career researchers in Slovenia. It was established in 1995, but at the beginning, just as an association of doctoral students, and then since 2016, we broadened our scope also to postdocs and other early career researchers up to twelve years post PhD. And basically we are also members of Eurodoc. This is the European Council of Doctoral candidates and early career researchers. It's an international association of similar national Associations throughout Europe and also in some other countries. So for example, Azerbaijan, and I think Georgia is an observer and so on. So what we are seeing basically from the viewpoint or from the perspective of early career researchers is a divide, if you ask me, between researchers at the beginning of their careers and established researchers. So established researchers are very happy with the system as it currently is, which is, at least in Slovenia, heavily based on quantitative measures, and we can say a little bit more about that later on. But this poses significant barriers for the entry and early career researchers to enter the system and also persist. And open science somehow is part of a broader reform of the research system that early career researchers would like to see in our future. So this was also my motivation why I decided for a job that I currently have. And my current role is to become a kind of proto data steward in Slovenia, especially for natural sciences and engineering, because this profession, in contrast to, for example, the Netherlands or Germany, is not yet recognized. And a part of my job is to work on a project that will be announced at the beginning of next year by our Ministry of Education, Science and Sports. And the project will be dedicated to coordinated and broad rollout of open science practices to research organizations, Slovenian research organizations, because Slovenian science lags behind international trends considerably. So this change needs to be jump started top down. And so for the next four years, I will be working on implementing best practices, including best practices in open science, including best practices in research data management to Slovenian research publicly funded research organization. So, my introduction was quite long. So I think it's time now to give the word to Anna.
Jo: Thank you so much, Tea. It was as long as necessary to paint the picture and to explain where you're coming from and what you're doing now and why and how. Yeah, Anna, thank you.
Anna: Yes. So my name is Anna and my story is in a way similar to Tea, in many ways also very different. First my background is in social sciences and then I did a PhD in statistics. So I work with data a lot. So my interest in open science started from this data aspect of open science. After I completed my PhD for a big period of, I think eight or nine months, I worked at the Slovenian and social Science data archives. And after that I got the opportunity at a newly established research institution of Slovenia that was established within a Horizon project and I was hired as a consulting statistician. But my role was also to help to assist researchers with data management issues. But this institution is very interdisciplinary. There are also some social scientists, but most of the researchers are engineers. And the first thing I realized is that all this infrastructure that I was used to in social sciences, especially for survey research, where we have these metadata schemes and in the repositories to archives where we can deposit our data, there are no similar infrastructures for engineering sciences. So it was quite challenging to work with other researchers in engineering and helped with that because there are no repositories that would be tailored for them so they can upload their data to the model, but that way the metadata they share is not very rich. So this is the challenge that is encountered and also from the social perspective, the challenge of reluctance to share data because of this fear that somebody will use that data and take advantage of them so they will not be able to publish. So there is this technical issue of not having the infrastructure and then the social issue of feeling that their data and so on. So it was very interesting to me to realize how these differences between different disciplines in the infrastructure we have available. And I became a member of the research data alliance. Already mentioned Eurodoc. Through Eurodoc I also started to know the research data alliance And I was also for two years an ambassador for Research Alliance for Engineering. And there was also a course for Data Stewards, the pilot school organized by Code Data and Research Data Alliance, a two week course. And I was one of the five pilot students that did that course. And then with that knowledge and also being an ambassador of open science for Eurodoc, I tried to raise awareness of this issue in Slovenia because, as Tea mentioned, there is also this generational divide that all the researchers are reluctant to adopt these practices. And we started organizing awareness raising events. We started the first year in 2018. We organized an event focused on Plan S and then in later years later, we organized an event focused on fair data. So the data aspect and we have been organizing that now for five years, this national event on open science. And we are now also members of the Slovenian Open Science community that was established this year, I think it's the right pair and Maya was this year or maybe December last year. And we are also now the younger academy of Slovenia. We are also members of this community that is connecting different open science stakeholders in Slovenia.
Jo: Sounds like a busy schedule and lots of engagement. The Lea is a great playground, I would say. I don't know. It's a great community to exchange best practices also across world regions, to reconnect the dots and the various working groups. There's a lot of engagement in all directions, which I appreciate. I wish I had more capacity to follow each of the discussions, but it's great to be able to connect with you guys and others occasionally at least to keep track of the exciting things happening. So just let me just ask. So for engineering, there are a few resources and repositories, but I mean, obviously there's archive.org, but it's only for manuscripts, right? There's not really a place for the data to deposit the data. So I think the gaps that you mentioned are true not only for the Slovenian researchers, but for any researcher, irrespective of where in the world they are, to figure out where I'm supposed to put my manuscript or submit journal article versus. And then there's a few, not many, but still a few options on how to make the data accessible in a fair approach also, which for us to deal with data, we know what's necessary, but then on a project level, it's still complex and not straightforward. There's lots of work to be done continuously for all of us to facilitate that process for the researchers and also for us to bring the service providers together and to point out what the researchers need and vice versa for the system as a whole to function. Okay, thanks so much, Anna, for now. And Maja.
Maja: Yes, thank you very much. So my name is Maya, and I'm currently a researcher and head of Digital Preservation at the Slovenian social science data archives. My kind of engagement in the open science field began in 2016 when I got a post here at the Slovenian Social Science Data Archives. And my background is basically in broader social sciences, so I have like a mix of studies made, so it was from international relations to political science, to ethnology and anthropology, to international economy and operations research. So I'm kind of mixing different social science fields all together in my studies. So, yeah, my work started at the Slovenia Social Science Data Archive, where I'm basically in charge of developing workflows and all these long term storage procedures. So data correlation and data management are on my daily agenda and I follow initiatives nationally and internationally and on the European level as well. We are part of the consortium of Social Science Data Archives in Europe called CESDA, and for this we are involved in various activities and projects on the level of EOS and then also on the various national and social science initiatives in Europe. So my engagement with the early career researchers basically began when I became the coordinator of the World Data Center Early Career Researchers and Scientists Network, which is an initiative made by World Data Science that covers broadly the whole world, not just European European space. So I'm still the coordinator of this and we are trying right now to kind of revive these activities that were once in place. And for that I became kind of connected also with Donna in Eurodoc and kind of took over when she stepped down from the work in the Open Science Working Group where we kind of focus on supporting the change in the academic culture towards a more open science one on the European level, of course. So this kind of pushing, let's say higher education, European research stakeholders to kind of implement open science practices as well. I was one of the initiators of the project RDA Note in Slovenia, so we're still active in this and I am one of the coordinators now for the RDA Note in Slovenia. And our job here is to basically serve as a bridge between Research Data alliance and the national space. Kind of trying to connect all the stakeholders within Slovenia and take what is relevant from the RDA outputs or recommendations and try to learn from this. Use these best practices and try to also implement some of the things that are kind of vital for our space as well. We have done a lot of work on the journal side of this, so we kind of prepared some recommendations on how journals should approach open science in their policies. So from putting there the recommendation to share also open data, I mean, research data in connection to the articles that they publish, to kind of recommendations on how to actually cite data and how to enable that. All of the authors of articles respect these kinds of recommendations and guidelines. Yeah, I'm involved in various activities and initiatives on the European level internationally, so I would not go into details because then I would spend too much time talking about myself. But yeah, we will talk about it in the future, I guess.
Jo: Yeah, thanks so much for the insight. You all seem to have very busy schedules. Don't be all, but it's also exciting to be engaged with many different organizations who all work for a common goal. But then it's also a challenge to keep track and not exhaust ourselves in the run. But I think it's also part of the learning curve and then finding a position of where we can then eventually be most beneficial for the wider community with all the learnings that we've collected along the way. I appreciate and I also understand and share the passion for the engagement. So maybe for all of you, and starting with Tea, where do you see the biggest challenges as well as opportunities in adopting fair and open data management in the community in Slovenia? And I don't think Slovenia is or is it let me ask it as a question. Slovenia particularly like are other there challenges that you have in the region as compared to the rest of the world, which each country has their own challenges, I suppose, but as compared to how the conversations go at the RDA level, at the like, UK, Western centric, but increasingly inclusive, I think. The RDA is also extraordinarily inclusive of various regions of the world, but mostly driven from the UK, US, Western Europe, I guess. Like, what are the particular challenges in Slovenia and opportunities?
Tea: Yeah, I can't comment on RDA. Perhaps Anna can say more about it because I'm not that familiar with it yet. I am too new to the field. But I can highlight one specific and very, very big challenge that we have in Slovenia, and I will need a little bit more time to describe this for those who are not familiar. So this is something I've learned actually fairly recently since I started working in the library. So, in the 1980s, the former Yugoslavia developed a very efficient bibliographic system. It's now called Kobe's Cooperative online bibliographic system of Slovenia. And this system was Pawn, Yugoslavian. And so it still remains in certain republics of former Yugoslavia. Not all of them, but some. And this system was, of course developed in the beginning for mostly books and other, let's say, typical publications. But in time, scientific papers were started being added, which is all fair enough, but then the institution who manages this system created another system, it's called SECRIS.
Yes. So, SECRIS, it means Slovenian current research information system. This bibliographic system now contains information about researchers, research organizations, all kinds of their research outputs, also other forms of output, such as popular science articles, interviews, public talks, even serving as a reviewer, everything. And this is again all good and well, but the issue is that Slovenia started assigning arbitrary values of so-called research points to various research outputs now that are included in this system. And based on these research points, Slovenia developed a very heavily quantitative based system for evaluating research performance. So in Slovenia, evaluating research performance goes well beyond the impact factor or Hirsh index and similar matrices. So here you have each publication assigned an arbitrary number of points, and these points are divided by the number of authors on the publication. The number of points depends on which quarter the publication ranks in where the paper was published. Then different types of research outputs are assigned different numbers of points, et cetera, et cetera.
We have a special category of excellent achievements, very good achievements, et cetera, et cetera. So there are a number of highly complex equations calculating your personal number of research points. And then, of course, research organizations adopted this even further. They transferred this system into their rules on employment, on promotion. In my previous research organization, various departments were ranked based on their numeric output and so on. So this created a mentality in the entire country which is very in favor of quantitative research assessment. There have been testimonies from older generations that this kind of system levels the playing field. That, of course, we are talking here about, let's say late 1990s to mid 2000s, that this was a great improvement because before that, promotions and employment and evaluation was very subjective because Slovenia is a small country and many people know each other. You can't really prevent that. So this system was seen as kind of more objective to the peer review system that is now being revised. Let's say again, however, the metric, there's a special name for this, but I forgot. But the metric became the goal. And we can see from the data of the Slovenian research agency that let's say, per capita output of research papers in Slovenia exceeded the European average in, I think mid 2000 and something, and it's still increasing. Whereas some other metrics of performance of Slovenian researchers, for example, success in mercury, individual fellowships in ERC projects and so on, they are not comparable to more developed countries because we are focusing on, let's say, low hanging fruit. So we are
giving preference to publishing a high number of relatively mediocre papers because it computes in our national research system, but it does not align well with what's necessary at the European level. So perhaps Ana can say a little bit more about that, that I'm not going to dominate this conversation.
Where's the opportunity? Well, luckily, younger generations have started to realize what such a system means for them. So it means that they will be usually it means that they will be heavily exploited by established researchers because established researchers just put their names oftentimes they just put their names on the paper because they are more well known, and the paper can get published more easily. Whereas the work was actually done by masters and PhD students and postdocs and so on, there is no real security of employment for early career early career stages. And so the and also early career researchers, their success is below average compared to the European average, or let's say more developed countries such as the UK, Germany, the Netherlands and so on. In ERC projects, it's very obvious because early career researchers need a lot of time to get independent or they never get independent at all. So the potential here is, I think, that younger generations contribute to the reform of the current system, because in my opinion, the current system is not sustainable. The issue is, as in most such cases, that the change is difficult, while older generations who benefited from the system
still hold all the strings in their hands. So maybe Anna and Maja would like to add something to what I've said.
Anna: Yes, I think Tea opened this very important point. I think what Tea described is one of the obstacles on the road to open science in Slovenia, because everyone is so obsessed with this point system. A particular issue is also that it was developed with having natural sciences in mind. So you cannot use the same system to evaluate also social scientists sciences, especially not humanities, because internationally, what counts in humanities is publishing books. But in Slovenia it's all about publishing papers. There is a list of so it's just about publishing in journals that are indexed in web of science and in scopus. And whatever is not published there, it gives you very little point. So it's not worth the effort. And if we relate to that today, sharing data, it's a lot of work to collect data, to manage the data sets, but it's not recognized. What is recognized is only publishing many papers. And as a researcher, there is as much work going into preparing a data set to be shared with other researchers that is not recognized. Actually, thanks to the Slovenia Social Science data archive where I worked data sets in social sciences, we have an opportunity to publish there, and you receive some points for that. But my colleagues in natural sciences and engineering don't have a comparable outlet where they would publish and get points in this system. Okay, maybe they get one or two points, but it's not enough to be worth it. So if we want to speed up the adoption of open science practices in Slovenia, we need a reform of this system, which, in a way, it's good to have some measures as a statistician, I really like when you can measure things, but it's not good when you become really obsessed with our metrics and everything is based on that. So the evaluation should be purely qualitative. As Tea mentioned, it's also a problem because then you become very subjective. So we need to find a balance between quantification and the quality aspects, some balance, which is a lot of work for evaluators, the easiest thing is just to assign points, but the way they are assigned. Now, there are many research outputs that are important for science but don't have much work in this system, so it's not worth pursuing them for researchers. Maja, would you like to maybe add something about that?
Maja: Yeah, I would just like to maybe emphasize that not only scientific articles, but also other research outputs, they need to have some sort of a quality evaluation. So if that's in quantitative or qualitative terms altogether. So we need a system to kind of implement to have that in place, because just assigning points, if you publish research data and get points for that, that makes no sense. Somebody has to do the evaluation and the curation part of it to be published according to all of the recommendations and best practices. So this is what I wanted to add to that. But coming back, Jo, to your initial question and just maybe focus on research data and I can speak maybe more in terms of social sciences, I think that Slovenia in this aspect is quite developed in comparison to other neighboring European countries, especially for coming from the Balkan region and maybe Italy, and also maybe part of it, Austria. But in comparison to the more Western countries and Scandinavian countries, we are of course lagging behind. And that's due to our smallness, our funding problems and dependence on these large European projects or European research infrastructures that are kind of pushing work forward. So I think that this national initiative, so let's say, like, national infrastructures for various scientific fields are really profiting from being part of these larger European research infrastructures, such as Clarine says that and Raya then elixir for the medical sciences and others. Because not being able to be part of that would mean that we would be like, I don't know, 50 years behind the developments if we will be just focusing on the progress made on the national level or funds received from the national level. So I think this is a really good opportunity for especially small countries to profit from the knowledge that they received from these larger infrastructures and also from, let's say, initiatives like the RDA, because RDA is a really huge knowledge hub for the researchers or even the data scientists or the research repository employees and everyone. Basically, you have all this knowledge gathered together from around the world that you can then take on and learn from. So I think that for smaller countries like Slovenia, this is really an asset that needs to be explored even further. So that's why we are trying to promote RDA and other European activities. And of course, a promotion of Viosk is necessary, that all of the stakeholders, including researchers, understand the benefits and actually the skills and tools that they can use already to enable their work being really easier in one way, let's say to enable call collaboration on their whole European level.
Tea: Sure, yeah. May I add something here? So what Maja mentioned is very important. So like the generational divide, there is also a strong divide according to research fields. So Anna, I think, can agree with that. So we have humanities and social sciences on one hand, and natural sciences and engineering on the other hand. And the reason for this is twofold. So the first reason is, again our research assessment system SECRIS, because, like Anna mentioned, by definition, publications in natural sciences and engineering are incorrect, in my opinion, but still are valued more than publications in social sciences and humanities, which means that the competition in natural sciences and engineering is greater. That, I think, at least that's my opinion. The way scientists behave to each other is much more possible, especially because you can seldom work alone. So many social sciences scientists and researchers in humanities, they can work in smaller teams or alone, but in natural sciences and engineering, that's nearly impossible. So you get the tensions between research groups or even within the same search group. And I think that that's one reason why researchers and social scientists and humanities are more willing to share their data through the networks that Maja mentioned Clarine, Daria, TESDA and so on. These initiatives, if I understand correctly, were created bottom up. In natural sciences and engineering, something similar will have to be created top down, because the reluctance to adopt similar practices is so high. So on the one hand, it goes against the competitive advantage that is created through this quantitative assessment system. And on the other hand, which is another important aspect, a lot of results or research, even perhaps research data in natural sciences and engineering can be patented or are created in cooperation with industry. So intellectual property protections are relevant. Okay? Of course, in social sciences and humanities, sometimes protection of privacy is important, but that data can, for example, be anonymized and then still shared to the general public. In natural sciences and engineering, sometimes no data can be shared because, for example, the industry will not let them be shared.
This is a challenge that will, in my opinion, require a lot of patience, a lot of hard work, a lot of persuasion in the fields of natural sciences and engineering. So people are reluctant. And we can see, for example, Slovenia. I'll finish right away. So Slovenia adopted a new so-called Research and Innovation Activity Act in December last year, where open science is written into law now. But still there is pushback against national legislation from certain, let's say influential circles, certain influential researchers who benefited from the old system. So this will be an uphill battle in natural sciences and engineering.
Anna: I wanted to comment on this. I think this is a very interesting perspective. So how this was built bottom up in some fields and then in those that don't have especially natural sciences, it needs to be going from top down. But I was wondering also in natural sciences, there are some exceptions. Let's have a look at, for example, astronomy. I think in astronomy they have a lot of sharing in these genetic sciences, like the Alexa infrastructure. And I was wondering maybe if the reason for that is because what they're working on is so challenging that maybe in their sciences there was this need to also develop infrastructure. So why maybe in astronomy this happened, why in genomics this happens, but not in other engineering sciences?
Tea: Yeah, one part of the answer is surely the complexity. And I would perhaps add here bioinformatics in general, because, yes, the natural world is so complex that you need the help of other people. But I would still point to something. None of these fields can be patented in full. So you can't patent space, you can't patent natural organisms. Yes, you can patent perhaps genetically modified organisms. That's something else. But you can't patent some natural occurrences. You can see the greatest pushback comes from those fields that work in close collaboration with industry.
Jo: Yeah, it's interesting and actually enlightening to look at it that way, to analyze where the pushback is coming from and then to say why is it the case? Who is the bottleneck or who are the gatekeepers and what's the motivation to keep the gates closed? What's the influence of funders? And like, is there in Slovenia? Is there a lot of international funding or what's the percentage, even since the wild guess, but how much national funding goes into research generally versus having vested funders which tend to be more and more open and supportive of open science practices, and also setting the standards or enforcing the standards, not setting them necessarily.
Tea: Will you begin or do I begin?
Anna: The Horizon project have this requirement now that data is shared. So I think this is a very good motivation. So researchers who are acquiring their funding internationally, there is this requirement that they need to publish openly. And so it started with paper publications and now it's also moving to data. Well, if we have a look at our national funders or the Slovenian Research Agency as a norm said they are committed to it, they are members of the planet, they are now members. Of this new car coalition, but this is just worse, this is just PR. They are saying we are committing to open science, but what happens in practice, they're actually not willing to change.
Jo: Maybe transition because it takes time to adapt in your system, like to rearrange separators.
Tea: So three decades ago there was a director of the Slovenian Research Agency called Yoshi Garkech. So he was quite progressive and for example, under him a senior research agency joined plans and also signed the Dora Declaration. Two people who came after him, their mandates were quite short. So not much can be said about their attitude towards open science because they were not in the position long enough for the attitude to show publicly. But the directors that we currently have, I think he publicly announced that he does not believe in open science at all and the reform of research assessments. And so, like Anna said, they are paying lip service to everything. They joined the Quora coalition, but I think that only because they're overarching association science Europe joined Quora as well. So it would be weird if your boss joins the coalition and you don't. But as far as I know, they don't plan to really be active in this regard. So actually they actually doubled down on the old system due to the newly passed Research and Innovation Activity Act that I mentioned before, several lower tier rules and regulations had to be changed and it was after that that actually passed a new rule on quantitative assessment. So the law stipulates open science, stipulates progressive assessment practices and after it is passed, the National Research Agency passes rules on quantitative assessment.
I don't know, the person doesn't know whether to laugh or cry.
Jo: Hello, Maja.
Maja: Sorry. Yeah, sorry. Just to add to that, I think it's all stuck only on paper. So we already have in 2015 a national strategy on open science that had all these issues inside and an action plan to kind of implement this national strategy, but nothing happened. And again, we are now in discussions with the Ministry on building the new action plan that will implement all of this arising from the Scientific Research and Innovation Activities Act. And again, everything is fine on paper and you have all the stakeholders and all the funding divided into different stakeholders on how to implement this in the future. But yeah, we will see what will happen in the future years, I guess, if something will if it will not be left as is, as it was in the 2015 strategy. So hopefully things will change and something will happen, but we need some push from either the EU or some bigger stakeholders that will kind of enforce this to these dinosaurs that we have crawling around our research space.
Anna: So even the new law and these action plans and strategies, these are a consequence of the reforms at the EU level. So the Ministry is preparing these documents, is pushing for a change in research practices and institutional practices because they are getting pressure from the European Commission and it's quite obvious and logical, but for some reason that I don't understand completely, our research agency behaves as if it's not a part of the system. So as if they can build a parallel system that still works in the old way. So at the moment I think that the implementation, the extent and success of implementation of open science practices, let's say new or progressive research assessment practices and so on, will depend heavily on the institution. So some institutions will probably adopt this successfully, some less successfully. For some we have received clear signals that they are planning to procrastinate and see what everyone else will be doing. And perhaps, I don't know, perhaps this will result in a kind of a checkmate situation so that the researchers will simply have to play by two different sets of rules depending on who their funder is. So one set of rules they will have to follow one set of rules if they got funding from the European Commission and similar and they will have to follow a second set of rules if they got their funding from the Slovenian Research Agency. So I can only imagine that this will result in a lot of unnecessary work and unnecessary burden for Slovenian researchers which will again most likely be placed on the shoulders of young generations.
Jo: Yeah, like always. Could it be that I've thought about this in different regional contexts, but what about data ownership? And could one of the factors that lead to resistance in adopting this open science sharing fair data approach be that some researchers, some stakeholders fear that they will lose ownership of the research outputs and particularly the data? And what about the facilities? Is there capacity to store data in a country or in the region to also have physical ownership of the data? And we know that with fair principles and open science and open licensing there is theoretical, also very practical ownership insurance but then when it comes to physically owning and controlling and curating the data there's a whole different aspect when the data is being uploaded to cloud to other countries which may have political motivations or not. And then there's history of Slovenia, like, where particular history. Just asking that question. What factor do you think is the question around data ownership and what we're discussing here? And is there a way to maybe embrace COBIS as a success or what's the word? Like a proactive approach for data sharing and research management. Research data management. Big in the days and now there's a new system. Could there be an in between approach to acknowledge the past accomplishments, and maybe instead of one now with a new data creation system? But could that be plugged back into what's been built in the past to just to take the older generation along in the transition, not to let them feel, oh, we've already done the work, and then it collapsed. So why are we doing something new now where it didn't work for us? I don't know. Okay, I might take too many questions, but pick your favorite.
Tea: Yeah. So here I would just like to correct you. So I understand that this is difficult to graph for someone who's not from this region in Europe. So Kobe's cooperative online bibliographic system and SECRIS Slovenian current research information system. They are actually both just
catalogs. Okay. They are just bibliographic catalogs. COBIS is mainly for books, but also for other kinds of publications. And its success was primarily that it was implemented at the level of the entire country. So from the librarianship point of view, this is very rare because abroad such bibliographic systems are mainly implemented at the level of a single institution for a region or something, whereas here the entire country uses the same system and also some other countries of former Yugoslavia because it was developed in the times of our former country. The issue with this system is that at least SECRIS, it is used then to calculate some very complex, sophisticated metrics.
It served a role in a certain time period, but now it creates more problems than it solves. As a bibliographic system, you know, just to search for an output of an individual researcher or organization, it is still excellent because you have everything in one place. So as a bibliographic system, it is excellent. It shouldn't be used for something that was not designed.
Jo: Yeah, okay. That's always.
Tea: Yeah. So about the ownership of the data, yes. I think this is a heavy concern that many Slovenian researchers have now. As far as I'm aware, recently I attended a webinar on the reform of authorship law in Slovenia, and I think that Slovenian legislation by default transfers ownership rights of any kinds of outputs of civil servants to their employer. So in a way, Slovenian legislation is in conflict with these new open science practices which state that researchers should retain the ownership of their research output. And this has not yet been resolved. Some negotiations and conversations are still taking place because obviously this needs to be harmonized because we again can't ignore the European and worldwide trends. Otherwise, there is just, I think, widespread fear that because we are so small, if we share our data, then big players and here our researchers are especially afraid of China, perhaps India to a lesser extent, but China especially. The sentiment is, well, the Chinese will come, they will steal all our data and make better research out of it than we are capable of, because their population is so large.
Jo: I think. So Maja, can you add two minutes before I need to adjust?
Jo: I just like to hear from you again the question of ownership. Like it's a matter of owning the data physically, digitally, and then also making sure that the research data curation and output serves on a national level, like serving the economy as I think as researchers and academic and scholarly community, we want to work internationally and work towards the common good for the planet and for people in our societies. But there's also national interests and understandably so. What do you think about it?
Maja: Yeah, I think that the main question here is educating all the stakeholders in what it actually means to share data. That doesn't mean that you give ownership to anyone. You keep ownership of your own data. You're just depositing it somewhere. It doesn't mean that it has to be shared by everyone. We all know that saying as closed as necessary and open. So that means that not all data, of course, can be shared because of privacy reasons or other copyright reasons. But that doesn't mean that metadata about that data cannot be shared. And that is the point we need to know of the existence of this kind of research that was going on. And metadata can say a lot about research being made without having all these issues around them. And this goes back to basically educating everyone in this complex system of the data landscape. That doesn't mean that something bad is going to happen or that it's not possible. It is possible. It's quite easy to do so if everybody understands what is going on in the back. And of course, data that's not sensitive could be easily shared. And it's a good practice not to keep it on your computer somewhere locally or on a hard drive, which then becomes dead in a couple of years and all data is lost and you never access it again. So that's really bad practice. And we need to start educating our researchers from the early ages, from the undergraduate level, on how to handle data and kind of take care of all of these aspects of ownership and copyright. And yeah, in the Slovenia landscape, this new law is, of course, kind of identifying all the stakeholders that will need to be responsible for putting up this open science community in Slovenia. So we also have the physical infrastructure that will be built by our academic and research network of Slovenia and so on. And of course, each national infrastructure, us, including for the social sciences, have built our own physical infrastructures and our own workflows that take care of all of these issues in the back. But again, I would say that the most important thing is educating everyone in this line about all of these issues and what it means to basically share data and be open.
Jo: And of course, thanks so much for this. Anna.
Anna: In addition to what Maya pointed out, I would like to say that one thing we need to improve is also giving researchers support service. I don't think it's so much an issue of this ownership, but I think it's more an issue of this is some additional work that researchers maybe don't have the skills to do or maybe they don't have the time to do. So I think it's important to offer researchers also help in the form of data stewards so that every department would have someone that would help assist researchers with these challenges and issues. Knowing how to even do that. Because researchers don't have the knowledge to prepare a data share, even metadata to share. So I think something that needs to be done is giving this support not only in terms of infrastructure, but also employing people and teaching them to do that. Because there are not enough researchers with this kind of skill.
Jo: Yeah, there's also not enough capacity building capacity. We need more education, like you pointed out now, to all stakeholders really on how to make the system work and what it means and to get rid of all the assumptions that are in the room. Because each stakeholder comes up with their own assumptions on how openness and fair data sharing could harm the status quo, where it's actually designed to improve everything. And what we're missing, I think, is just the guidelines to make it implementable. Not only in Slovenia, I see this also in Germany, in the UK. Like researchers, the practitioners all struggle. Okay, sounds all nice, but how do we do this in our discipline?
But maybe to conclude on a positive note, what is your vision for the next three to five years where you maybe also hope, where the journey can take us? What do you think is needed? Well, other than what we just agreed on, we need capacity building, we need more information, simplifying the complexity. What's the best case scenario like three years from now? Where will Slovenia be in the open science space on a global European level? Maja do you want to start?
Maja: Yeah, sure. So, yeah, my ideal scenario would be that in three years you would not need to explain to anyone what open data means and what open access means. And it would be like the people would just come and they just deposit their data, knowing what they're doing and why they are basically doing that, which is the most important thing. And not out of just kind of reaching the kind obligations from some sort of funding, but really taking care of handling their research data from the inception, from the start of the basic research to kind of plan their research accordingly and then towards the end to depositing and providing access to it, if that's possible, if not at least sharing metadata. So that would be my hope that I would not be involved in these discussions. Why this is important and what it is and why we care and why we should do that because we have so much work. But this is part of the research anyway. If you're a good researcher, it's a researcher, you know that you need to plan your research. You need to also plan how you handle your data and what will happen after you finish your research with your data, not to be stuck somewhere on a stick or something. So that is my hope for the future. So what will you then do if your position is redundant?
Maja: Yeah. I will finally focus on things that are of interest to me and not to explain and involved in this policy building and recommendations making on how to engage people and focus really on the real work, on how to make even better services to people for data deposit and data access that I think it's most important to focus on the reproducibility of it.
Jo: Also, I want acceptance. Is there an understanding of work to be done, infrastructure? Anna.
Anna: For me, I think we need a change in research culture, a culture that will appreciate the openness, the fairness, the sharing. And when I talk about these issues, I always give us a good example. The Netherlands, what they have done with the data stewards program and it came top down. They had a director that was really aware of these issues and then tried to implement them. So that every faculty has somebody who can assist researchers in these issues. And for me now, a new hope is that at the University of Bean and they have a new rector who is very much in favor of this. And I hope he will have enough support that he will be able to get enough funding to realize that in our largest university and then when it happens there, that also other institutions will follow. And I think that the project that is working now, that will be starting next year, will be a great help in doing that.
Jo: Okay, sounds good. Tea?
Tea: Yeah, I agree with Anna. I also have quite high hopes for this project because I see that there are a number of people, let's say goodwilling people, who are willing and able to dedicate their time and effort into reforming the system. Again, like I've mentioned before, this will be highly institution specific. So at certain institutions, the implementation will be faster and easier than in others. Also, we are planning to design the project in a way that we will establish a kind of proto data stewardship network in Slovenia if possible. Because our opinion, the opinion of the now still informal group that is brainstorming on the project, because the call has not been launched officially yet. So our opinion is that the researchers are, in fact, overburdened, and we can't expect them to take on another assignment and do it in a way that it should be done. Because research data management is a very specific field, a very detailed field, and deserves to have its own professionals working alongside researchers, helping researchers to achieve their goals so that researchers can dedicate their time and effort to research.
It is very normal nowadays for research institutions to have their own project offices, to have their own intellectual property offices because it is recognized that these fields are too detailed for researchers to master on their own. These kinds of tasks will take too much time from the already busy schedules. And I think that research data management is the same. So there is a need for dedicated professionals and we hope to establish the foundation for this. So the timeline will be four years and after that we will see. So perhaps the ministry will dedicate some additional funding for this or perhaps the institutions themselves will recognize the need for this and allocate their own funding. So we will see. Let's hope for the best. But yeah, I mean, at least what I can see is the willingness to build this system.
Jo: Yeah, well, as long as there are people like you guys in each country and some also in each institution, I think we're on a good path. And I agree with what you just said. The researchers should be enabled again to focus on the research and infrastructure and how to document needs to be facilitated by others for them, so that they can easily adopt straightforward systems and practices that are easy for them to adopt and to curate that research data properly. And again, I think you all also mentioned the RDA, the research data lines, which is a great platform for people like us to think about these things and to standardize. Each of us were also in touch with researchers for them, only a few of them had to engage themselves in these discussions to build the system or to optimize the system. I think we're on a good path. Can we conclude on that? Acknowledging the challenges which we see in each and every country and institute and as you said, some will adopt faster, others will lag behind, but eventually will also buy into a better practice. And yeah, I think it's just a matter of listening to each other, the needs and the fears and then finding a new truth and a better I think it's just important to stay engaged and to continue the conversation. Thank you so much for the insights and stay tuned and welcome back to the show anytime when there's something new to share, really good news and progress in the open science landscape and see you around. And to the listeners, we will put all the links of organizations and networks that were mentioned so you can meet Anna, Tea, Maja and the various organizations and you also find the resources that were mentioned. Thank you so much and have a good rest of the day. Happy holidays and see you around.