European Commission logo
English English
CORDIS - EU research results

EOSC Photon and Neutron Data Services

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ExPaNDS (EOSC Photon and Neutron Data Services)

Reporting period: 2021-03-01 to 2023-02-28

Photon and Neutron sources are some of the most advanced scientific infrastructures on the planet. For example the light coming from a beam at a synchrotron is a million times brighter than our sun. These facilities are used to generate scientific results that drive society forward. But to do this, they need to generate a lot of data.

With the ExPaNDS project, we started to make this data accessible through the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) so that its potential can be fully explored and exploited by scientists and the public alike. In this age of data-driven science, this is an important step to accelerating new advances in science from European Photon and Neutron Research Infrastructures.

ExPaNDS is a collaboration between 10 national Photon and Neutron sources located in Germany, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland and Sweden. Our 11th partner EGI is our link to the EOSC and its underlying cloud infrastructure.

As a thematic project of the INFRAEOSC-05 funding call, we are directly reaching our users and instrument scientists to make the data produced at our facilities “FAIR” - Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable - so that they can be preserved and serve as many purposes as possible.

To help scientists transform this data into knowledge, we applied state-of-the-art technologies to existing data analysis services, making them cloud-ready and infrastructure-agnostic. This makes our users' lives easier, enabling them to access their analysis software wherever they need them: at their home institute, at any other PaN facility or in the EOSC.

Tutorials on the use of data analysis, on data policies, ontologies for experimental techniques and community file formats are published in the platform, significantly enhancing reusability and more generally fostering open science at Photon and Neutron sources in Europe.
The ExPaNDS project has developed a framework to enable FAIR data and support open science at photon and neutron facilities. This framework includes several components such as recommendations on incorporating FAIR principles into research data management policies, an analysis of metadata available across the PaN experimental lifecycle, and templates and use cases for active data management plans.

The project has also developed an ontology of the techniques used at photon and neutron beamlines, which standardises the metadata used by scientists and enhances the search capacity for data. This ontology makes relationships between techniques, helping machines to better understand search queries and provide better results.

Data at these facilities are catalogued using software developed specifically for photon and neutron source data, called SciCat and Icat. The ExPaNDS project has added plugins to these community data catalogue softwares, enabling harvesting of the open data stored in them by third-parties, for discovery in aggregators of EOSC, like B2FIND or for reuse by data miners.

The VISA platform provides remote data analysis services in a web browser and enables desktop sharing between multiple users. ExPaNDS has contributed to making VISA deployable at more facilities, using different infrastructures. This provides scientists at photon and neutron sources with an easy way to share their analysis software, run analysis in the cloud, and use powerful compute resources.

To aid in training, ExPaNDS developed a training catalogue, which is a one-stop-shop for trainers and trainees to discover available online materials, workflows, and events. This training catalogue is also the gateway to the PaN e-learning platform.

All of the ExPaNDS outcomes are available on the website, along with their sustainability and exploitation plan. Overall, the ExPaNDS project has made significant contributions towards supporting open science and FAIR data at photon and neutron facilities, which will benefit the scientific community as a whole.
The harvested catalogues, which now make more photon and neutron data available in EOSC, in particular in will improve the findability of our data by both humans and machines, which is an important first step towards making its reuse possible.

We also expect to see an increase in the number of globally unique Persistent Identifiers for data and PaN instruments, as well as more links to these identifiers in photon and neutron science publications. This will help to ensure their long-term discoverability.

By improving the quality of metadata, ExPaNDS has enabled more interoperability and reusability of data, leading to higher overall impacts for scientists. This is particularly beneficial for researchers who are conducting interdisciplinary studies and require access to data from multiple sources.

The FAIR self-assessment exercise that we developed has helped our facilities to assess their current state in the journey towards FAIR data. By repeating this exercise in the future and embedding it into their normal processes, they will be able to continuously monitor and improve their data management practices. The hiring of data stewards will also ensure that these practices are maintained over time.

The VISA portal has been deployed at national research infrastructures and is starting to become mainstream. This is an excellent tool for users to share their analysis workflows with others, allowing for greater collaboration and reproducibility of scientific results. The ExPaNDS project has collaborated with the EOSC-Synergy project to provide more professional analysis software and services that can produce reproducible results irrespective of the underlying infrastructure.

Finally, the ExPaNDS project has collaborated with the ESCAPE project on a European-wide data exchange strategy. This collaboration will now be continued in the frame of an upcoming European project, facilitating the exchange and management of research data across Europe.
ExPaNDs team at our final event in Hamburg (01/2023)
ExPaNDS context and objectives
ExPaNDS promotional video ( ) home page: the training catalogue for the PaN community