Monday, June 25, 2018

Access to research through open data

Millet pollination ICRISAT research campus Hyderabad, India
Over the last year, I led a study on open access and open data at PUSH universities.

Access to research findings and the data collected in the process of research can lead to solutions of multifaceted complex problems, such as hunger and malnutrition. This is one reason why funding agencies and research foundations are requiring that research findings and research data be free, accessible, interoperable, and re-useable.

When quality data is shared openly (called open data),  research and innovation can be accelerated. Also, open data yields transparency, increased citations, increased research collaboration, and increased credibility of researchers and universities.

We found that no PUSH universities have explicit open data policies. Only 15 have online open access policies and 15 have open access portals. Only a few have dedicated open data repositories. While those we interviewed recognized the increased expectations for open data and many agree to the importance of open data, very few universities have the infrastructure, support, and policies in place for an open data movement.

While there are many reasons to jump into the open access and open data movement, it is also important to recognize reasons why some researchers and universities are concerned about open data and why some data should not be shared. Based on interviews, we provide several recommendations for universities to seriously consider open data. These findings and recommendations are similar to what GODAN  and the AAU/APLU  have found.o
This past week, I attended the Driving Innovation through Data in Agriculture (DIDAgworkshop. In this meeting, it became even more clear that universities, researchers, government agencies, and research foundations understand the need to move forward with open data to tackle its challenges.

Now is the time for universities, federal agencies, foundation funders, researchers, research professional associations, and research publications to begin to develop new open data policies, agree on open data goals, expectations, infrastructure, and support.

How do we bring the right groups and people to agree and create a movement forward.  Who needs to have a say? How can decisions be made that will answer the question who pays for the open data infrastructure, processes, and maintenance?

If you have any questions, feel free to call or email me.


Thanks to Jaime Adams, Medha Devare, Brytni Emison, Harriet Giles, June Henton, Jessica Hopkinson, Jayne Kucera, Ruthie Musker, Kara Newby, Martin Parr, Juliet Tumeo, Tashina Walp, and Ruthie Wofford for working on this project with me!

And thank you to the people at 9 PUSH universities who agreed to be interviewed!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

It's been awhile


Over the last few years, I have shared less depth about my work and life in social media. Hopefully, I will begin to writing again so this post is a bit of an update. Currently, I am working with eXtension and Hungers Solutions Institute and I am volunteering with National Leadership Center for Excellence.


I have had an evolving eXtension appointment for the past 8 years. For those not familiar with eXtension, you can think of eXtension as a national presence that works to improve Cooperative Extension work through innovating and improving professional skills. You can certainly learn more about how eXtension is pushing the local systems and their knowledge workers by checking out their web presence.

My current work is to advise and consult on a dynamic field book that will include content and connections to people via using ontologies and eventually machine learning. My role includes helping build the knowledge network in this conceptual demo.

Hunger Solutions Institute

I started working with HSI as a project manager in May assessing open data at select PUSH universities. The idea is that if research is shared more openly then the speed of discovery and innovation will increase. Our study looks at how universities are adhering to funders' requirements to share research data and the policies of these univesities. Our report will be presented in mid March at the Presidents United to Solve Hunger Forum and Universities Fighting World Hunger Summit

I have learned so much more from HSI and its leaders.

  • Hunger is a complex, yet solvable problem.
  • Universites can and should be main players in discovering solutions. 
  • Hunger affects 20% of the children in the U.S
  • Studies are also showing 20% college students are food or nutrition insecure.  
  • Student led initiatives like campus kitchens are helping and are being led by students. 
  • Much more can be done to deal with the root causes of hunger, locally and globally through research and knowledge.

National Leadership Center for Excellence 

I have also been volunteering with the planning of a National Leadership Center for Excellence which purpose is to set a "place and setting" to have a "more perfect union for domestic tranquility" through listening, sharing, learning, presenting and writing. I will share more about this later.

What is ahead?

By the end of the summer of 2018, I will retire from Auburn University. I love what I am doing and the people and organizations which I have worked with. I have learned so much from colleagues nationally and internationally, particularly Canada, India Australia, and United Kingdom. After a few months of not working, I hope to find interesting work, like teaching online classes, interesting  consultant work, and writing, perhaps continuing some of these projects. On my own time, I want to explore these topics. 
  • How behaviour and actions change because of technology.  I wrote years ago how social media and Web 2.0 (remember that term?)  could help us learn from diversity of resources. Some of that has happened but it seems that social media has helped people of like minds join that has created echo chambers creating greater polarization of ideas, particularly around political opinions. Perhaps in my first few months of retirement I can investigate this notion with more scientific evidence--not depending on my own observations. 
  • Servant leadership and civility. I would love to write stories and how serving others can improve business and productivity.
  • Open Science. In my work with HSI and open data, I would like to explore how universities are addressing open data and are there opportunities to create courses around the history of open science and open knowledge starting with Plato, how open knowledge changed to protectionism,  ending with open and flexible licensing and sharing science so that it is discoverable and re-usable. 
  • Personal journaling. I have found times in my life that writing is therapeutic. I simply need to start this again.
It feels good to back in this space. More later.