OPTIMISING THE OPERATION AND USE OF NATIONAL RESEARCH INFRASTRUCTURES

Abstract:  Research Infrastructures (RIs) play a key role in enabling and developing research in all scientific domains and represent an increasingly large share of research investment. Most RIs are funded, managed and operated at a national or federal level, and provide services mostly to national research communities. This policy report presents a generic framework for improving the use and operation of national RIs. It includes two guiding models, one for portfolio management and one for user-base optimisation. These guiding models lay out the key principles of an  effective national RI portfolio management system and identify the factors that should be considered by RI managers with regards to optimising the user-base of national RIs. Both guiding models take into consideration the diversity of national systems and RI operation approaches.

This report also contains a series of more generic policy recommendations and suggested actions for RI portfolio managers and RI managers.

[From the body of the report:]

As described in Section 8.1.2, data-driven RIs often do not have complex access mechanisms in place, as they mostly provide open access. Such access often means reducing the number of steps needed by a user to gain access to data. This can have knock-on implications for the ability of RIs to accurately monitor user access: for instance, the removal of login portals that were previously used to provide data access statistics….

Requiring users to submit Data Management Plans (DMPs) prior to the provision of access to an RI may encourage users to consider compliance with FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, Reusable) data principles whilst planning their project (Wilkinson et al., 2016[12]). The alignment of requirements for Data Management Plans (Science Europe, 2018[13]) used for RI access provision and those used more generally in academic research should be considered to facilitate their adoption by researchers….

The two opposing extremes, described above, of either FAIR / open access or very limited data access provision, highlight the diversity in approaches of national RIs towards data access, and the lack of clear policy guidance…..

It is important that RIs have an open and transparent data policies in line with the FAIR principles to broaden their user base. Collaborating with other RIs to federate repositories and harmonize meta-data may be an important step in standardising open and transparent data policies across the RI community. …

There are a wide variety of pricing policies, both between and also within individual RIs, and the need for some flexibility is recognised. RIs should ensure that their pricing policies for all access modes are clear and cost-transparent, and that merit-based academic usage is provided openly and ‘free-from-costs’, wherever possible. …