From August 18th to 21st, CIAT hosted the regional Open Access / Open Data workshop for CGIAR centers and CRPs, with colleagues from CIP, IRRI, IFPRI and CIMMYT. Two other regional workshops have been held already in Asia and Africa. It was a perfect opportunity to discuss key issues and make progress in the development of our center implementation plans with regards to the open access / open data policy.
As Medha Devare, leader of information and data management at the CGIAR Consortium Office, reminded us, the interest for open access to CGIAR data and outputs is increasing. The re-use of existing data, the need to show to donors that outputs are available, accessible and applicable and therefore applied by our intended users, as well as the opportunity to link much more center and CRP information and data for increased knowledge creation are all reasons to pay much attention to open access and open data. CIAT is having promising results in the area of big data and climate change.
The consortium office is working the Abby Clobridge, a KM consultant, and we were provided with a detailed and useful 9 chapter template for our Center / CRP implementation plans dealing issues such as technical infrastructure, intellectual property rights, staffing, researcher support, financial administration, and monitoring & evaluation. CIAT has luckily made a lot of progress in setting up the repositories and infrastructure as well as the required workflows. Interactions with the well-advanced CCAFS program (see for example CCAFS Data Management Support Pack) have also been very helpful to advance in structuring our info and data management plans. In addition we launched a CIAT Community of Practice of data managers and colleagues who have responsibilities in data management to understand needs and urgencies, as well as opportunities for collaboration across research areas and disciplines.
From the discussions with colleagues, I take away three insights:
Interoperability: We still talk much about what are the best tools and repositories, while at the same time knowing that the metadata schemes and jointly adopted information management standards can provide us with the required interoperability of our systems. Making our information products harvestable is key, and that still requires a lot of background work that the Consortium tries to coordinate.
Scientist buy-in I: Who will really drive the cultural change? It seems that a Bill and Melinda Gates or USAID policy on open access is much more effective than any internal awareness raising, or sticks and carrots we can use to provide incentives for researchers to invest in open access and open data.
Scientist buy-in II: While we believe fiercely that free access to data and information will increase the use and re-use and therefore the impact of our work, we still need provide more successful examples, influence our partners, and establish a monitoring and evaluation framework for open access / open data.