5 October 2020
Collaboration is a touchstone of modern scientific research. STFC uses open data projects that allow researchers to work together to increase the circulation and exploitation of knowledge.
Open data is the concept that output from research should be readily available for other scientists, industry workers and the general public to use. It falls within the Open Science initiative, the umbrella movement making scientific research accessible to all. The idea behind open data is to reduce the time spent on redundant research projects and increase the time spent on new projects, meaning data shared is scientific research halved.
According to the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), open data could allow a collaboration between 1.7 million European researchers and 70 million professionals in science, technology, the humanities and social sciences. Horizon 2020, an EU Research and Innovation programme, is funding initiatives with the Scientific Computing Department (SCD) and ISIS Muon and Neutron Source at STFC, as well as Diamond Light Source and other organisations, to develop open data systems.
How many people do you think there are between you and Kevin Bacon?
You might have heard of the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game that states people are up to six social connections away from each other. What does this have to do with open data? The FREYA project named in acknowledgment of the Norse origin of preceding projects and coordinated by STFC is developing the concept of a PID Graph that uses a data network model similar to this social network idea.
PIDs, or persistent identifiers, are ways of linking digital objects important in research, such as datasets, publications and even the people carrying out the research. They are like URLs on the World Wide Web but should never have broken links - that is why they are called "persistent".
The PID Graph uses the metadata (the descriptive part of the data - such as the author) of each PID to provide connections with other PIDs that are up to two “hops” away. So, if this was a social network, there would only be two degrees of separation, or two Kevin Bacons, between two “people” in an open data system. By making connections like this, the whole research process becomes more transparent and easier to understand.
Did you know? The technology used for PID Graph is also used for the social graphs behind Facebook. Video on YouTube.
What makes data fair? Data from science should be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Re-usable (FAIR). This means that:
STFC is participating in a project called FAIRsFAIR that aims to provide training and guidelines to scientists on how to ensure FAIR data practices. These principles ensure that all users of FAIR data can agree, fair's fair.
Did you know: A single experiment at ISIS can produce the equivalent of 14 hours of TV streaming content?
At STFC's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL), facilities like ISIS and nearby Diamond Light Source produce petabytes of data from experiments carried out on their beamlines. The EOSC Photon and Neutron Data Service (ExPaNDS) project aims to help manage the huge amount of data produced and provide analysis services. At RAL, SCD provides support for the data produced throughout the experimental lifecycle at ISIS and Diamond.
ExPaNDS also draws on FAIR data principles and will be looking at adopting these into the community to improve access to the data generated by national photon and neutron facilities in the UK and across Europe.
The aim is to build a reliable, open innovation environment for scientific research where data from publicly funded research is 'as open as possible, as closed as necessary.' The end goal is to open up all parts of the research process, even the algorithms and code.
Further information on the projects is available from the project websites.
The UK’s space industry has received a major piece of new equipment to help get larger, more complex satellites ready for launch. A 16m long space test chamber, amongst the giants of Europe, has been installed in the UK’s National Satellite Test Facility in Oxfordshire
Council members play a critical role in UKRI’s strategy development and governance, working with their Executive Chair to deliver their council's aims and objectives and to support UKRI's overall mission.
In a plantation in the Brazil’s south eastern state of São Paulo, fintech start-up Trade in Space is pioneering the meshing of blockchain trading with satellite data – to drive efficiencies for growers to the end-user customer.
A new project supported by STFC aims to design and develop new radiotherapy technologies to give more cancer patients in Sub-Saharan Africa access to radiotherapy, and save lives.
Research carried out at STFC’s Hartree Centre could help reduce the cost and speed up the development of new types of drugs, such as for cancer therapies or new types of antibiotics. The research, which focuses on a specific type of peptide, could improve the way we treat diseases in the future.
The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) has announced today that business development expert, Paul Vernon, will take the helm as the new Executive Director of Business and Innovation. He will play a critical role in helping STFC shape and deliver a business and innovation strategy.
A new ground-breaking instrument for astronomy research has passed a major design milestone at the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO)’s headquarters in Garching, Germany.
School children are being given an insight into the impact that food has on climate change thanks to a group of University-based researchers.
Scientists from the University of Bradford, working with colleagues from the ISIS Neutron and Muon Source have developed a new method of delivering drugs into the body using ‘smart gels’ that can be injected where they are needed and release their drugs over time.
National law firm Weightmans is to harness the power of artificial intelligence and data analytics expertise at the Hartree Centre, at STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory, in an effort to overcome the complex and labour-intensive challenge of redacting confidential data on legal documents.
Last updated: 09 October 2020