More from TU:Librarian

Posted in 2017

Better data, better decisions

I first thought that this was my fourth RDA Plenary, but I think it was my fifth, from Göteborg, Dublin, Paris, Amsterdam, now to Montreal.

RDA is not a normal conference, with a division between plenary lectures and parallel sessions in blocks of thematic topics. No, it is all about birds-of-a-feather sessions, interest groups or working groups, depending on the status (approved of) and maturity of the group. You need to select what groups or sessions to attend, surely if you are not personally involved in one of these groups.

Is open science starting a revolution? I went to the museum of fine arts to see what happened in the sixties.

That is why the morning session of the second day (I missed the first day because of the DataCite Board Meeting, and a meet-up with Stephanie Gagnon from University of Montreal) was useful for me. It was a quick overview of working groups, being in the middle or at the end of their 18-month period. I bring a few things home to @tudelftlibrary colleagues, e.g.

  • Datacubes, dataarrays – is that something we are working with? For me these were new words, but I am of course not a datalibrarian.
  • Take a look at
  • Materials Resource Registries (to make it easier to find and share resources about materials science). Examples at
    Note that the software can easily be used for other disciplines. Of course this draws my interest, being a materials science engineer myself.
  • David Wilcox with his research data repository interoperability group is looking for adopters.
  • Anne E Thessen is improving the metadata schema so that curation history can easily be found, and curators can get credit, and valuable work does not need to be repeated (but can be found).

After the Library session (where I presented our RISE self-assessment on behalf of our own Library Research Data Services group), I attended the Make Data Count BOF session. A lot of our colleagues from DataCite were there. Interesting and useful work, i.e., to develop a hub for all data level metrics, so that usage tracking is made easier, throughout all research communities. The first draft COUNTER Code of Practice for Research Data has been created and is open for comments. I invite everybody to give their input to this valuable work.

On the third and last day I attended the interest group on education and training for research data handling. There was an overview of available courses and training for support staff on research data handling, or for engaging or guiding the researchers. It was obvious by the eight or some brief talks that there is so much out there, that our own proposal (from Ellen Verbakel @tudelftlibrary together with Irina Kuchina @EIFL) to create a data supporter curriculum, that is based on the research life cycle, seems wise. We want to define the learning goals and competences for the data supporter. The idea is to develop a more unified education, where all the current and present education and training on handling of research data is taken into account. And by the way a tip for ourselves, we should not bypass the Library Carpentry efforts, because here real hands-on work is being stimulated. After reviewing the content of existing courses, we would like to identify and describe the modules missing in these courses. After that we will need to define what modules are mandatory in a course for data supporters. We will also consider the thought of bringing in different levels, a question asked at the workshop. Perhaps I should consider doing a Library carpenter training myself!?

The theme of the conference was “better data, better decisions”. 100% true of course, the better we describe and maintain the data we preserve, the better findable, interoperable and reusable they are, and by doing so every user, also the data producer, can make better decisions.
I mentioned my meeting with Stephanie Gagnon. Talking about better data and better decisions. I read about the big deal cancellations in this blog, and our license manager Marina Lebedeva contacted Stephanie. Being in Montreal was too much of a coincidence, and it was very nice to talk to her. Going through her presentation says it all. From downloads, citations and mentions you can end up with essential journals per discipline for your institute, and that should be the basis of your negotiations. We promised to stay in touch, to enter open access in the equation in Canada/Montreal. Montreal has a good press at the moment in relation to open science, so I am pretty hopeful we will be able to join forces.

Libraries: Are we neutral or brutal?

The past weeks I attended two events related to open science. The first one was in Lisbon, Portugal, and was a RISE high-level workshop on “Research careers and the European funding system: How to make open science a reality”. The second one was in Visby, Gotland, Sweden, and was a seminar on open science, where I gave a brief outline of what we have been and are doing in The Netherlands in relation to open science.

When I prepared my statements for the first workshop (where I participated in two panels) I created another acronym: FECS (if you say it, one might hear “facts”); i.e., we should be able to offer our researchers Flexibility, Evidence, Consistency and Support. In relation to open research data, I argued that it is important to provide relevant and to-the-point support. At our TU Delft Library we have developed an open science training for PhD’s, so we help our researchers doing the right thing. We understand that there is no obvious solution for all research; you have to take into account that the scientific processes are different per discipline. Flexibility is key – at TU Delft we incentivize the culture of sharing data by the following approach: we say that the lowest level of sharing your data would be within your own research group. To do this takes already management of your data and proper stewardship. Once you have done that, you have created the basis for further opening up if possible and relevant, with our mantra: “as open as possible, as closed if necessary”. Evidence for reuse of research data is not so easy to obtain, but needed to set good examples. At 4TU.Centre for Research Data we have collected case studies to inspire other researchers. Consistency lies at the level of the departmental heads and executives. We are not just talking about open access to publications (articles, books, reports) or research data, we are (at least at the universities) opening up our primary processes and campuses, work or materials that have been provided with public money.
The leaders in research organisations in general should be aware that a change is needed at different levels. To mention just a few things that passed along:

  • Research integrity is perhaps more important (relevant to think about) for mid- or senior researchers
  • Research organisations should give their staff time to think
  • Choose your research (grant) evaluators carefully
  • Open science should be embedded in current practices and codes of conduct, not being or leading to its own criteria (guidelines)

There was so much we wanted to address in Lisbon. In the active part of the workshop on the second day I really liked the ambition for the subgroup I participated in: “enabling researchers to share components of their research as early as possible”.

The Champalimaud Centre of the Unknown really lives open science. All citizens may visit the open areas of the Clinical Centre, and the patients can choose the place for their treatment (e.g. for chemotherapy).

The Almedalen festivities are often free to participate in, and take place on surprising locations. A nice mixture of private – public – politics. And in the evening: parties!

The open science seminar in an open place (garden) in Sweden is difficult to report from for me. My talk was in English, but everything else was in Swedish. However, I think that the Swedish Library Association (they co-organised it with the Organisation for Science and Public) appreciated the contribution I made. It is essential that we are moving along in the same direction in Europe, so that we continue to make progress in open science. We need other countries, apart from The Netherlands, to be daring and sharing as well. Brutality (in the good sense of the word) is something we librarians sometimes need to learn a bit. Now that the Chairpersons of the universities are involved in the Dutch negotiations with the bigger Publishers, we see that this is rewarding to do. I liked the discussions I had with the SLA staff. The SLA is a member organisation for all libraries, including research, public and special libraries. At the Almedalen meeting the SLA clarifies the role and position of libraries for the politicians, who walk around and participate in panels. I always say that the Library offers neutral ground, so that other people can have debates and take their positions. That is why Studium Generale fits very well in our Library.  (Secretary General at SLA) wondered whether that was not too naïve: Librarians are also knowledgeable, can verify facts, and people can trust and rely on their library, does that make us neutral? During our discussion however we concluded that both positions are true. All libraries should be educating (or helping) their patrons so that they can make their own balanced decision and formulate their own opinion, based on trusted material – that is what we are doing, and should be doing, and it is a very important task. However, to bring this about so that others understand this role, requires some brutality.

After I wrote this blogpost, I noted that the bottle I took with me (I collect beer bottles) was from the Brutal Brewery – such a coincidence!


Evaluation. Another open science perspective.

Finally I had some time to read two reports related to open science, one from the European Commission Expert Group on Altmetrics, and a lengthier one from the RISE High Level Group. It is not my intention to summarize these reports in full, but merely to reflect on some parts I found interesting. Mind you that my focus these weeks is on finding tools or actions that can help in the 3rd line of our national plan open science, i.e. “Recognition of and rewards for researchers”, so I have been reading with some “bias”.

Part 1

The report “Next-generation metrics: Responsible metrics and evaluation for open science” ends with 12 recommendations, including the set-up of a European Forum for next-generation metrics. There were also five headlines provided at the end:

  1. An open science system should be grounded in a mix of expert judgement, quantitative and qualitative measures.
  2. Transparency and accuracy are crucial.
  3. Make better use of existing metrics for open science.
  4. Next generation metrics should be underpinned by an open, transparent and linked data infrastructure.
  5. Measure what matters.

And a denser summary could be: Metrics: use them responsibly, and use numbers together with a qualitative assessment.

From the altmetrics report: “Figure 2 – The basket of metrics for the evaluation of science (Haustein, 2015).”

This report perhaps does not add that many new insights, but offers a good overview of what has been done, the pros and cons of altmetrics, and gives a prospect for what needs to be done. Remarkable however that only nineteen responses were received on the Call for Evidence last summer.

Part 2

The RISE report can be downloaded, and also be purchased as a print book – it covers 228 pages (with a long list of references, and some useful case studies at the end), and reading it on my laptop in the train back from Hannover was not optimal. However, I picked up a few things.

The chapters and paragraphs were written by (groups of) individual members – the full report has not been endorsed by the whole RISE group. There is however “The Mallorca declaration on open science”.  Also here five “headlines” capitalize on achieving open science:

  1. Remove the barriers that extreme competition for limited resources create for Open Science.
  2. Implement Open Access publishing where publication is part of the continuum of research.
  3. Establish competence and confidence in the practice of Open Data.
  4. Ensure research integrity.
  5. A cohesive European approach.

Ad 1.

I invited Megan Carey at a CESAER Workshop on Open Access we organized in Bruxelles early in February (you can find the presentation she gave here). Megan is member of the RISE Group, so I was curious to read her contribution.  She indeed grasped my attention by stating: “True progress on Open Science in Europe will require rethinking the way research is funded and researchers are rewarded, in order to address the underlying forces that currently act to discourage Open Science. Longterm policy changes must directly address and remove the current barriers to Open Science practice. Such actions could fundamentally change research culture – simultaneously improving conditions for researchers, promoting excellence, and encouraging openness.” A few suggestions she made are the need for a relative shift of funds away from largescale collaborative projects towards PI-driven funding schemes; and more generally, that the granting schemes should undergo an overall simplification. Ultimately, there is a need to support a move towards funding centred on “people, not projects,” the approach of several world leading funding organizations. The latter claim is also reflected on a simplified drawing created by the “authors”.

From the RISE report: “Figure OI.3: New dynamics of innovation.”

Ad 3.

In the paragraph on open data, written by Ian Mulvany, I liked the rules (Goodman et al., 2014) Mulvany referred to. These rules are already from 2014, but never brought to me like this. As Mulvany puts it: “Were all of these rules to be adhered to by all researchers, we would have as good an Open Data ecosystem as we could wish for.”

The challenge “Competence in working with data” is addressed by the three rules:

  • Rule 1. Love Your Data, and Help Others Love It, Too;
  • Rule 3. Conduct Science with a Particular Level of Reuse in Mind; and
  • Rule 4. Publish Workflow as Context.

The challenge “Appropriate infrastructure for open data” is addressed by the following four rules:

  • Rule 2. Share your data online with a Permanent identifier;
  • Rule 5. Link Your Data to Your Publications as Often as Possible;
  • Rule 6. Publish Your Code (Even the small bits); and Rule 8. Foster and use data repositories.

Challenge three: “Creating a supporting culture for openness” addresses the three remaining rules:

  • Rule 7. State How You Want to Get Credit;
  • Rule 9. Reward Colleagues Who Share Their Data Properly; and
  • Rule 10. Be a Booster for Data Science.

And here my “bias” is being rewarded after all, because this last challenge and the related rules are about “how we can ensure that the correct incentives are in place to support the sharing of open data”.

Part 3

I noticed that in the RISE report recommendations are “all-over” being given to the “green road” of open access, i.e., “The RISE Open Science Group strongly endorses the use of the Green Open Access/ self-archiving model as the most immediate solution for Open Access publication.” In the part written in the Mallorca declaration this is a bit more specified and for me better understandable, and put in context: “The success of Open Science will depend on Open Access publishing having sufficient resources to implement a fair and transparent evaluation process and to ensure the quality, reproducibility and integrity of published research. Posting on recognized pre-print servers, data publishing platforms and self-archiving on shared platforms (‘Green Open Access’) provide useful complementary solutions for immediate pre-publication sharing of Open Science research.”

And then to end with a sidestep –recently I contributed to the Open Education Consortium Year of Open blog with a perspective on open science. Reading with this “bias” as I did (well not fully) with these two reports, is again enriching my perspective. Am I reading this as Library director, as DataCite member, as participant in the Dutch “big deal” negotiations, or as writer of the national plan open science?

Regardless of my own perspective, a very nice overview of the first National Open Science Day on 29 May 2017 was created by Mark van Huystee: just get inspired by all these perspectives!

Drawing made by Mark van Huystee, 29 May 2017. Part of the opensketching weblog “What does open science means to you?”


A brain day in the Library

Be inspired. That’s what we like to achieve for our students, teachers and researchers. Or whoever passing by or visiting our Library. This is pretty simple these four weeks. Our Library is filled with brain activities, as part of the university celebrating her 175 years of existence. The theme chosen for the university festivities is “Technology for Life”, and many events are being organized that form part of this celebration.

The mission of the Library is to enable knowledge to flow freely. It is a place to study, learn and be inspired. During the ‘Explore your Brain’ weeks students, staff and the general public can find out how to get the most out of their brain, with or without technology.

In our Library we help you to “Explore your Brain”. We have a 3D floor image of the brain, workshops and lectures, movies to watch all day, mind games to play, a digital shower (as of March 16), innovative study spaces, special music and much more. We have composed brain boxes for primary schools (and 20 schools have signed up for these) and Library staff can get small steps to keep fit during working hours. Our coffeecorner Coffee-star will also offer some brain ”stimulating” food. Four brain captains from Library staff and their teams have worked very hard together to make this happen, alongside all other work, and I think that this is perhaps even the best result out of this.

All pictures taken on Brain day 2 ( 14 March 2017).

In our university news paper another twist on this topic was recently presented. The university research fields mapped as if it were a brain.  The role of the Library in this Aida visualization tool, as explained in this article, is part of a Pecha Kucha session our colleague Dirk-Jan Ligtenbelt will present on 16 March 2017. A Pecha Kucha session about the future of the Library.

As I explained earlier “we cannot predict the future. We should continue to do relevant work, dare to innovate, and move forward …”. Working together with faculty staff on this work and organizing a stimulating Brain programme is moving us forward. Great!

Making open science the new reality

The National Plan Open Science has been presented, and the National Platform Open Science and website have been launched, as we had planned for, on 9 February 2017. It was great to have been able to play a part in this.

Perhaps the most difficult thing for me was finding the balance between being the neutral writer (because the Plan is a joint effort, and expresses the ambitions of the responsible coalitions, not mine) and the Librarian with an opinion (which I obviously have).

We have delivered fourteen concrete ambitions related to 100% open access for scientific publications (created via public funding) per 2020; optimal reuse of research data; implementing a broader view on the way research and researchers are assessed and rewarded; and promoting and supporting open science.

It was great that all Parties involved created responsible coalitions per ambition, and the collectivity that is needed for this, is perhaps one of the major achievements during the creation of this Plan. I said it before “I am, because we are”.


I like to share in this weblog just a few of the things that came along, but were too difficult to grasp at this moment, or were not big enough to make it into an ambition:

  • Could we give credit to researchers who start new research based on existing research data (and thus stimulate reuse)?
  • How could we stimulate researchers to cite data(sets) as part of their reference lists?
  • What would it mean if we would say: “if we invest in science, it needs to be open science”?
  • An event for researchers to present all available infrastructure and tools is one thing, but do not forget to involve administrators and managers, and also those working in HR, Finance and ICT.
  • All articles submitted are first routed to the research library > here the open access policy of the journal selected is checked, taken care of the right sort of license, and the final version after publishing is stored in the institutional repository. Is that a crazy thought?

Take some time to read our National Plan, and have a look at our website. Let us know if you have ideas, comments, or would like to participate in the Platform. We need each other to make open science the new reality.


There are many people I could thank, but these are the most important ones: our wonderful writing team!

Our own shade of open

Another update in the writing process of the national plan open science for The Netherlands. The good news is that we have drafted our first version and discussed this with a group of stakeholders during a second creative session. Just wait a bit, and weeks will become days will become hours, and it will be a second that our plan reaches its audience.

It is not yet that second. I can tell a bit more, though, about our approach and steps.

Creative sessions
We read, and talked, watched and listened, as I mentioned in my first weblog. Obviously the Council Conclusions and the Amsterdam Call for Action on open science form a strong basis. The first tuning of our findings took place on 7 December 2016, where we met with a group of twenty-some people in the Hive room at TU Delft Library. A wonderful report was made by Marina Noordegraaf. We found it important that we made a strong visual report, so that regardless of the result at the end, each step is worth the effort. Of course this session was, though an important one, only one of the many inputs to our plan. At this first session we took the scientific process as the central point, and all people present plotted their current and future actions on the several phases of the process.
This gave us valuable input – we could make overviews of both, i.e., of current and future actions. We used the time between Christmas and New Year’s Eve to write down a 60% version of the plan. The plan starts of course with the definition and context of open science, and ends with what will happen next after finalizing the plan early February. The middle part is the most important part: there we show what The Netherlands are doing at this moment and what we will be doing the coming years to open up the scientific process.
On 11 January 2017 we had a second meeting, with more or less the same group. Here we took the future actions and discussed why they are needed (the problem) and what they will solve (the solution), who would be action holder and the estimated time line. We had an active discussion. We learned that people preferred to talk about ambitions instead of actions, and about a coalition instead of action holders. We are now in the middle of finalizing these ambitions with the stakeholders involved.


11 January 2017 – The Hive @tudelftlibrary.

“No pressure, no diamonds”. Having three months in total for composing our national plan means that we have to make choices. Every choice is a direction, so it is good to make choices, and by doing so to make progress. One of the choices, of course upon consultation with our supervisor Ministry of Education, Culture and Sciences, was to involve (semi-) public stakeholders only. The people attending our creative sessions were from higher education- and research institutes, their libraries, funding bodies, the national library, research data centres, ICT and research(ers) organisations. Besides these, we have spoken with (representatives from) private companies, their confederation (VNO-NCW), the international organisation of STM publishers, the Open Access Scholarly Publishers Association (OASPA), Business Europe and consulted several individuals (such as researchers, teachers and health care workers) to get inspiration or answers. However, the plans or ambitions of the latter group for open science will not be covered in our national plan. The plan is the start, though, of a process where other bodies and stakeholders need to be involved.

Talking about open science is talking about researchers, so how are they involved? In the Plan, the ambition is written down to organize a researcher-targeted conference on open science later in the year. For now we have (apart from the larger higher education- and research institutes) researchers involved via DJA (The Young Academy), PNN (“Promovendi” Network Netherlands) and we intend to get in touch with

How open can you get?
Another choice is to decide when it is the best time to open up the result. Is that something you do right from the start, in the middle or at the end? We have chosen for a sort of compromise. The plan is not ours (us being the writing team), but theirs (them being the stakeholders involved). We want the actions, I mean ambitions, to be feasible and realistic, and showing too early what we are going to do, might have a negative effect if things mentioned have to be deleted after all. However, here at TU Delft we have just started our Year of Open, and for me Open is more than opening up the scientific process. It is also an attitude. It is about being honest, telling people what you are doing (and why), and motivating people to do the same.

The compromise
So this is the compromise: if you send an email to, you get an 80% version (in Dutch) of our draft plan (after 17 January 2017). We can send you an English version after 26 January 2017, that will be the 95% version. I cannot guarantee we will respond to all remarks / comments we receive, but at least there is a “shade of open”. The plan will be final and presented on 9 February 2017.

Making open science the default road. Making open science just science.

Quote by Thomas Carlyle. At the end of each session, I used another quote from him: “Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you will be able to see further”.

Published 15 January 2017; small edits 17 January 2017.

© 2011 TU Delft