The Open Science movement poses new opportunities and challenges to the science and research community, especially in data management.
Accessible and usable research data is the most important resource for safeguarding Switzerland's research and innovation power. Every day, scientists generate considerable amounts of data, which is often stored in domain or institutional silos. The resulting research data ecosystem is constantly evolving and fairly complex to access, even for researchers.
According to the research community, there is a need to rethink and restructure data management according to the FAIR principles: Data should be findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable. This not only improves reproducibility, but also opens up completely new possibilities for connecting data across disciplines. So far, however, there is no infrastructure that connects research data throughout Switzerland.
In the tradition of merging the digitalisation interests of the education, research and innovation community, SWITCH launched the vision of a research data connectome for Switzerland in October 2019. In the future, data from various disciplines, stored in different locations, will become easily findable, accessible, reusable and connected. SWITCH sees itself as a coordination partner, orchestrating the implementation of this vision. In a first step, partner institutions are preparing the ground in two SWITCH Innovation Labs.
In cooperation with partners from the higher education community, the SWITCH Innovation Labs work on promising topics related to the overall strategic orientation of the SWITCH foundation. The SATW is currently evaluating the status and challenges of comprehensive research data quality and the eXascale Infolab at the University of Fribourg is researching best practices from research and industry for linked research data.
The results from SWITCH Innovation Labs are used to implement the vision of a research data connectome. Prototyping will begin in early 2020 in a collaborative, agile process. The needs of all stakeholders will be taken into account, with particular emphasis on researchers as future users. The connectome will open up completely new possibilities for researchers to recognize and use the innovation potential of FAIR data management.