Last November, CIAT’s Data, Information and Knowledge Management group conducted a survey to assess Center staff’s knowledge and understanding of open data access and reuse of CIAT’s data in future research.

The survey was answered by 124 CIAT staff from different areas, of which 68% were scientists. The area with the highest representation among respondents was DAPA, followed by agrobiodiversity staff. The CRP (CGIAR Research Programs) with more representatives was CCAFS (CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security) with more than 50% of the total. And most respondents were based in Latin America and the Caribbean.

When they were asked about their understanding of the term “open data,” there was consensus among the respondents that it means that people can find information online and view metadata. However, there was a division between those who believe that open data provide access to the actual data files without reuse restriction (39 respondents) and those who believe that data files must be viewed with certain restrictions (42 respondents). CIAT is committed to wide data sharing. In that regard true open data should be accessible without any reuse restrictions. However, exceptions do occur and reuse restrictions may be applied if the restrictions are of benefit to next users, for example, restricting commercial usage of valuable data.

Respondents had a clear understanding of the difference between open access and internal data sharing, which they described as a casual and less restrictive way of sharing data within CIAT. In general, staff members who responded to the survey had moderate knowledge of CIAT policies related to data access and exchange. They, however, did express some concerns related to data exchange; among the most common were that the data could be misused or misinterpreted by others (20 responses), that researchers wouldn’t receive proper recognition for their work (19 responses), and that private or sensitive information could be compromised (9 replies).

Image credit: https://datavisualization.ch/notes/open-data-challenge/

Image credit: https://datavisualization.ch/notes/open-data-challenge/

Respondents said that they felt more comfortable sharing information internally and expressed no major problem with this. The only concern was that authors receive appropriate recognition for data and intellectual property rights are respected, when the data is reused by another researcher.

As part of this survey, respondents expressed some suggestions regarding data sharing. The general consensus was that research data within CIAT should be accessed by other CIAT researchers, once a project is complete. However, most of the respondents believe that, during the course of a project, only project members should access the data, and others must obtain permission to use data through a request submitted to the senior scientist.Respondents had a clear understanding of the difference between open access and internal data sharing, which they described as a casual and less restrictive way of sharing data within CIAT. In general, staff members who responded to the survey had moderate knowledge of CIAT policies related to data access and exchange. They, however, did express some concerns related to data exchange; among the most common were that the data could be misused or misinterpreted by others (20 responses), that researchers wouldn’t receive proper recognition for their work (19 responses), and that private or sensitive information could be compromised (9 replies).

Respondents said that they felt more comfortable sharing information internally and expressed no major problem with this. The only concern was that authors receive appropriate recognition for data and intellectual property rights are respected, when the data is reused by another researcher.

As part of this survey, respondents expressed some suggestions regarding data sharing. The general consensus was that research data within CIAT should be accessed by other CIAT researchers, once a project is complete. However, most of the respondents believe that, during the course of a project, only project members should access the data, and others must obtain permission to use data through a request submitted to the senior scientist.

Staff identified the following items as necessary to include with internally stored CIAT research data:

  • Documentation of methods used such as protocols and guidelines.
  • Documentation of the data elements within the dataset.
  • A description of intended analysis and publications from the data.
  • Metadata of the entire project that required the data collection.

Finally and importantly, the staff surveyed expressed, from several points of view, that they would like to have more formal training, information, and guidelines about CIAT procedures and policies regarding data exchange. To view a summary of the results of the survey, click here.

Leroy Mwanzia, manager de datos e información del CIAT

Leroy Mwanzia, manager de datos e información del CIAT

CIAT is committed to proper research data management and adopted the CGIAR open access and data management policy in 2012. Those policies and the CIAT Intellectual Assets principles are available on the intranet. The Data and Management team are holding consultative and informative meetings with all staff groups in 2016. The meetings aim at raising awareness, answering questions, and interacting with staff around data and information management and open access issues. This started with a visit to the Asia office in January 2016 by Leroy Mwanzia CIAT Data and Information manager. Further workshops will be held in CIAT HQ in the upcoming months of May and June, and Leroy will spend some time in Africa in July of this year. The CIAT website and intranet are being updated with more information on the subject to support staff.

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