CODATA2012 Taipei IUCr Delegates' report

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CODATA2012 Taipei IUCr Delegates' report

Post by JRH » Fri Nov 09, 2012 11:29 am

Report on CODATA Taipei 2012
A. Conference
The overall headline of the Conference was "Open Data and Information for a Changing Planet", indicating the emphasis in recent years on CODATA's probably natural preoccupation with the societal impact of scientific data. There were Keynote Lectures for example on Climate change, Disaster Risk evaluation and Open data access in science. Especially interesting was to learn of advanced plans, reaching actuality, within particle physics to use cloud storage for both very large data sets (petabytes per years per major centre); this is highly relevant to synchrotron X-ray facilities as this could thereby be a way forward to assist inter-facility collaboration as well as access by users to their data. The sessions on access to data from the literature showed that several science disciplines are only now organising access to the data from publications. Panel discussion topics included Open data access and Ethics in Data. IUCr was actively involved in the two Data Mining Microsymposia sessions. A new session was introduced at this CODATA conference for Early Career Scientists.
John R Helliwell presented a talk, co-authored with Brian McMahon, on Data archiving in crystallography and the activities specifically of the IUCr Diffraction Data Deposition Working Group. The second Data Mining session was Chaired by John R. Helliwell. Two talks were presented. An impromptu Panel discussion was convened to discuss the current perspectives on data mining from a learned-society publisher (IUCr), a commercial publisher (Elsevier) and a technical specialist (working for the UK Office for Library and Information Networking (UKOLN) and the Digital Curation Centre). Both scientific data and medical data featured in inputs from the audience as well as the perceived need for incentives for scientists to link data to their publications more extensively than is current practice. Developments in University Archives were surveyed through the example of the UK, since those present had knowledge of projects at Manchester, Edinburgh, Bath and Southampton, including Archives already in existence (Bath and Southampton) or nearing launch (Manchester).
Both IUCr Representatives participated in the sessions organised by the CODATA-ICSTI Task Group on Data Citation Standards and Practices (of which Brian McMahon is a member). The Task Group is currently focusing on writing a report surveying current practices, and developing advocacy (for disciplines where scientists still need to be persuaded to engage fully in the practices of attribution, citation and linking necessary to establish the "first-class" status of scientific data).

B. General Assembly
The IUCr delegation comprised John R. Helliwell (incoming and voting IUCr Representative) and Brian McMahon (outgoing IUCr Representative).
A special agenda item was a progress report by K. Ravio (ICSU Vice President, Finland) of the ICSU Review of CODATA, conducted as part of ICSU's regular review and evaluation of its component and affiliate bodies.
The CODATA Strategic Plan 2013 to 2018 was reviewed by the GA Delegates and will be finalised by the Executive. A significant development was the acceptance of the Executive recommendation to allow in future At-large (i.e. individual) members. Two new country members were approved (Finland and Mongolia). All existing Task Groups were approved for renewal. Of special note for IUCr is the Task Group on Data Citation Standards and Practices, whose workshop and conference sessions we attended. Three new Task Groups were approved related to data in Microbiology, in Weather and in Global Disaster risk.
The recently established (2011) Nanomaterials standards collaborative project with ICSU, ISO and OECD was reported on and is Chaired by John Rumble, formerly of NIST and past CODATA President. It was commended and noted that it has 20k Euros EC funding. The IUCr was invited to submit a working member to this project; this will be John R. Helliwell.
A Working Group for Early Career workers was established for two years to help structure their work towards the establishment of a more permanent group.
The Data Science Journal is being reviewed, including possible links to a commercial publisher; the preferred funding model was agreed to be 'green Open Access' so as to retain the flexibility of reader or author payments, rather than Gold with its restriction to author-only fees payment.
There was a resolution to investigate the use of an Open Knowledge Environment to promote the communication of CODATA's activities to the membership and world at large.
The CODATA Conference 2014 was approved to be in New Delhi, India, to be held in late October.
The newly elected Secretary General is Sara Graves, Professor of Information Science at University of Alabama in Huntsville. The newly elected Treasurer is Prof. John Broome, Canada. There were eight newly elected Ordinary Members of the Executive Committee.
A history of CODATA over the last 45 years written by the participants from these early years, Gordon Wood and David Lide, was distributed; the continuous presence of IUCr throughout the whole period is well documented with its timeline of active Representatives including Olga Kennard, David Watson, Brian McMahon and, now, John R Helliwell.

Organisational aspects
Two features were highlighted: First, the use of Twitter via a #codata2012 hashtag generated ~350 tweets through the conference, including contributions from the CODATA and the CODATA_Canada Twitter account feeds. The implications most immediately are that we could set up Twitter accounts for CODATA and ICSTI events, whereby the IUCr Representative could feed tweets to followers interested in these events, in addition to the formal reports after the events.
Second, outreach featured in the conference Panel discussion and the General Assembly. The suggestion was made by JRH to outreach via the CODATA website specifically to politicians (but equally to the public and schoolchildren), with concise information conveying "Things you need to know about data". This could have a drop-down menu with links on The nature of data, How we estimate uncertainties in data etc.

John R. Helliwell and Brian McMahon

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