Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EOSC-Pillar (Coordination and Harmonisation of National Inititiatives, Infrastructures and Data services in Central and Western Europe)
Reporting period: 2019-07-01 to 2020-12-31
The project integrates a bottom-up (by voicing requirements from scientific communities) and a top-down approach (by harmonising the national strategies and turning them into a work plan).
Long term, this is expected to help the adoption of common policies and streamline joining EOSC for providers and users while populating the EOSC with services that are in-demand. The project also collaborates with regional and thematic initiatives.
EOSC needs to be based on interoperable resources across borders for international communities to be involved. On one hand, it’s clear that Member States will provide resources that will form the EOSC, and so, national initiatives are a cornerstone of the EOSC ecosystem. On the other hand, research doesn’t stop at borders, and for many communities, the collaboration with research groups abroad is even more important than with neighbouring colleagues. This is why working on national policies isn’t enough and can be a limitation if interoperable procedures and technologies aren’t adopted.
A complication is that many thematic communities are organising themselves to meet their own needs with tailored data services, making them both users and providers. These activities, without coordination, can only lead to duplication of efforts, while hampering the extension of well-designed services born in a specific domain to new communities. The leadership acquired by some communities in developing data-related services could instead be harnessed and used for the benefit of the global European science.
Coordination efforts gained momentum after signing the Collaboration Agreement with INFRAEOSC-05 projects, with several project partners actively participating (and leading) Task Forces. The project also provided input to the Interest Groups setup by EOSCsecretariat.eu.
Since the start, the project performed technical and non-technical/organisational activities to ensure the overarching goal of creating an inclusive EOSC. From the technical side, the project built on the concept of federation of data repositories and services. WP5 developed the proof-of-concept for the Federated FAIR Data Space while WP7 identified gaps in providing services and documented guidelines and procedures for the integration of services into the EOSC Portal. These were performed in connection to the nine WP6 use cases. Towards the next period, procedures and implementations will be refined while the use cases are being finalised, and this practical/real-life experience will be applied to the new use cases identified via the open call launched by WP6 at the beginning of the second period.
Technical evolutions per se don’t guarantee impact on the type and quality of research, unless they are properly communicated to researchers, supported by training and, sometimes, by a mindset-change. WP2 designed and deployed a complete dissemination and outreach strategy, while WP5 focused on the training needs of researchers on FAIR matters and creating awareness and supporting the deployment of a data stewardship programme. Both activities are being conducted in collaboration with WP3 which will focus next on deepening the understanding of researchers' needs and difficulties.
To complement these "horizontal" actions, WP4 dealt with "vertical" actions aimed at consolidating, coordinating and harmonising the National Initiatives. D4.1 presents the policy and legal framework specifically aimed at supporting National Initiatives in providing services in the EOSC federated environment. Moreover, WP4 developed the proof-of-concept of a national catalogue interoperable with the EOSC catalogue, which will be finalised during the first months of the second period. The catalogue can be a powerful tool to build an inclusive EOSC by ensuring new or currently non-production research services can seamlessly transition to the European scale.
Finally, at the end of the period, WP4 started consultations with National Initiatives and service providers. This activity will lead to D4.5 presenting the study of possible business models suitable to ensure the long-term sustainability of the National Initiatives in EOSC.
The real challenge is that, despite having similar objectives, visions, and compositions, the initiatives adopt varying approaches, and need to operate under different laws, funding models, and relations with the decision makers. That’s why harmonising the different national experiences is not trivial, but succeeding means providing all the advantages that the adaptation to national peculiarities brings. EOSC-Pillar builds on such specificities and heterogeneity to enhance collaboration among all the countries bringing a rich contribution to EOSC. In a motto, pursuing unity in diversity.
EOSC-Pillar emphasises bringing user communities of national initiatives together to co-build the EOSC as a world-leading user-oriented resource for data enhanced science.
The primary expected impacts include:
1) Adoption and integration of common policies and tools
2) Integration of initiatives and data service/cloud providers
3) Federation of user services, and proposal of new ones based on community experiences adapting their work to the EOSC
4) Assessing the true costs of services based on use cases in communities with varying practices, and proposing solutions for sustainable business models based on different national experiences
Impact can be broken down into the following actions/points:
• Harmonise policies in Europe and facilitate alignment with international initiatives
• Aggregate and achieve wide adoption of processes and practices for optimal use of resources
• Contribute to FAIR data uptake in Europe
• Removal of technical and organisational barriers to ensure findability, accessibility, interoperability and re-use of research data
• Piloting and establishing future (co)funding strategies and business/usage models to ensure long-term sustainability
• Delivery of European added-value of EOSC
• Widespread dissemination of European achievements