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EOSC Photon and Neutron Data Services

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - ExPaNDS (EOSC Photon and Neutron Data Services)

Reporting period: 2019-09-01 to 2021-02-28

Photon and Neutron (PaN) 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 want 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 (PaN RIs).

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 European cloud infrastructure in general and to the EOSC in particular.

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”, so that they can be preserved and serve as many purposes as possible.

To help scientists transform this data into knowledge, we are working to make analysis services available, wherever the user wants to access them: at the user’s home institute, for example, or at any other PaN RI. This will make our users' lives easier and enrich the EOSC with a set of high-value data analysis algorithms, significantly enhancing our data’s reusability and more generally fostering open science in PaN.
To deliver the EOSC to the wide variety of Photon and Neutron sources users, we held an EOSC PaN symposium in November 2020, along with our sister project PaNOSC. Over 140 participants, including IT professionals, researchers and managers from Photon and Neutron facilities and representatives of the EOSC landscape attended the event (https://expands.eu/2020/11/24/panosc-and-expands-pan-eosc-symposium-and-annual-meeting-an-overview/)

To enable FAIR scientific data at European national RIs, we established a draft framework for national RIs data policies (https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4014811) mainly based on our previous PaN common policy framework on scientific data, the PaNOSC data policy framework for ESFRIs and FAIRsFAIR’s recommendations for policy enhancement. We are now engaging with the policy makers at each of our facilities to discuss the draft framework and its concrete implementation.

To make national PaN RI data accessible to user communities via the EOSC, we undertook a survey of the current data catalogue landscape at our facilities and set out a roadmap for the tasks each of our facilities now needs to take on the journey towards EOSC (https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4146819). The first visible step was to set up a standardised interface for the high-level metadata of our data to be harvested in EOSC. Metadata for an initial set of facility datasets is already being harvested by B2FIND (http://b2find.eudat.eu/group/psi).

To enrich the set of data services available in the EOSC with services from national PaN RIs, 11 datasets and the algorithms used to analyse them were selected to be made accessible to European scientists (https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4558708). Preparatory steps, both on the infrastructure level and on the interoperability level (e.g. licence clearance), were defined in our guidelines and best practices for implementing national PaN RIs data analysis services into the EOSC (https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.4569421).

To raise the level of awareness and competence in FAIR data practices within user communities, we organised two workshops on FAIR for instrument scientists and Photon and Neutron facility staff. During the first day, 115 participants examined FAIR and its benefits for the Photon and Neutron community. During the second day, 87 participants explored the FAIR experiment and the concept of active data management planning (https://expands.eu/presentations/).

Finally, to engage with the EOSC programme to empower national PaN RI user communities and to maintain sustainability, we are active in the EOSC ecosystem, be it through our contributions to the INFRA-EOSC-5 task forces, feedback provided to the strategic research and innovation agenda of the EOSC, or the engagement of our facilities in the EOSC Association.
As a result of the discussions with our facilities policy makers, we expect ExPaNDS partner facilities will update their data policies in the next 1-3 years, a step that will unlock many barriers to making national PaN RIs’ data FAIR. As a result of our advocacy with users and instrument scientists, we also expect an increase in the number of globally unique Persistent Identifiers (PIDs) for data and PaN instruments and links to these in PaN publications. Better quality metadata will also enable more interoperability and reusability, leading to a higher overall impact for our scientists.

By the end of the ExPaNDS project, our 10 facilities will be connected to the same PaN search engine, allowing a one-stop search through all PaN data catalogues, including interactive features, domain specific search terms and providing access to embargoed data for authorised users.

Users will also be able to run PaN specific data analysis services and obtain reproducible results irrespective of the underlying infrastructure. In relation to this, we are collaborating with PaNOSC to find the right European-wide data exchange services between our facilities. We hope to succeed in integrating the PaN community within innovative initiatives like the H2020 ESCAPE project “data lake” concept.

The current pandemic has highlighted the utmost importance of enabling remote access to facilities and rapidly sharing reusable data across disciplines. As was discussed in the recent 17th RDA plenary, the PaN community has strongly contributed to the global effort in making instruments and data relevant to COVID-19 research findable and available as quickly as possible. Our project will continue supporting this endeavour in the overall vision of EOSC.
Workshop on FAIR for facilities (https://expands.eu/presentations/)
What are photon and neutron facilities? (https://vimeo.com/video/438859175)
Workshop on the FAIR experiment (https://expands.eu/presentations/)
ExPaNDS context and objectives