Swiss Open Research Data Hackathon

A diverse community came together in a three-day virtual hackathon with the aim to improve the open research data landscape.

Text: Cornelia Puhze, published on 16.02.2021

SWITCH and FORS organised an Open Research Data (ORD) Hackathon to strengthen collaboration and build a community around ORD. The aim was to initiate a Swiss forum to bring the research community together and invite students, researchers, librarians, open data experts, developers and service providers to share their ideas and pave the way for innovative projects and applications. Around 40 participants from across the globe (one researcher joined from Karachi, another from Lilongwe) came together to connect on ideas and to improve the open research data landscape. The hackathon was also supported by DaSCH and who helped to spread the word and actively participated in the working groups.

Three days of virtual hacking

The ORD Hackathon took place mid-January 2021. Prior to the hackathon, the community submitted a total of 13 ideas to hack on. Each idea was then presented during the kick-off event on 18th January 2021. Subsequently, each participant decided which idea they wanted to hack via a poll during the kick-off event. The participants selected a total of 7 ideas to be hacked, all deposited on GitHub ORD-Hackathon / hackathon-2021.

Thus, the polling resulted in self-organised teams for each idea. Each team decided upon a team leader who made sure that all necessary skills are present in a given team. The actual hacking (conceptualisation, coding, etc.) of the ideas started once the teams were formed and continued throughout each day of the hackathon. Each team then presented their results to the community on day three. After the teams presented, the participants voted on the ideas. Based on the voting, SWITCH and FORS offered prizes to the winning teams of ideas 1. Open science indicators, 10. SWISS repositories and 7. Open research data queriable by location.

Collaborations beyond the hackathon

The participants of the Swiss ORD Hackathon 2021 provided valuable first steps towards innovative Open Research Data projects and applications (see report). Most importantly, the activities formed a community that will likely continue collaborating on plentiful activities beyond the hackathon itself, since the participants not only collaborated fruitfully within their teams but also shared information and insights amongst the different teams. Hence, we are thankful for the time and effort of all the participants. The fruitful collaborations shall continue in further community activities and the participant's feedback survey stated it loud and clear: there is an overarching majority keen on collaborating again at a future Swiss ORD Hackathon.

If you're interested to join an ORD Hackathon in the future, drop us your mail at

The Research Data Connectome 

Scientists across disciplines generate increasing amounts of valuable data as part of their daily research activities. Being able to reuse or even combine such scientific data opens the door to many exciting possibilities. Until now, research data has been collected in domain or institutional silos and could not be easily connected.

The Research Data Connectome connects and organises (open) scientific (meta)data sustainably across disciplines to make it widely accessible, interoperable and valuable. Building a Connectome prototype is a joint effort by DaSCH, FORS, EPFL Blue Brain, eXascale Infolab, SATW,

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