The Open IGERT: The Open Repository

The IGERT program is a cooperative program. Faculty receive support in the form of students provided with stipend and tuition, students get to brag about how much more they are paid than the other grad students, and the IGERT gets recognition. The Open IGERT requires one thing from students and faculty: open research.

As part of the deal between receiving funding, we are going to require that students participate in open research. The minimum will be to have openly accessible data with as short of lag time (between production and publication) as possible. I will encourage students to be fully open, essentially open notebook scientists but I understand that some faculty may be hesitant and resistive to this.

In every encounter with people I’ve had regarding open science and open notebook science students are very willing to share their research, data, protocols, etc but their advisers are the ones preventing this share of information. By requiring open research, we hope to attract professors that are more in line with open research values. Also we may hope to acquire some professors who may be desperate for funding and willing to change their attitude in favor of financial support.

There are many places online that support open research, but for this IGERT to impact the University and the globe, we propose to build an open repository. The framework for the repository will be open access and shared (probably via GitHub) so that other universities can build on our model. We hope to include measures that allow for:

  • Archival – After my invite to the Library of Congress, I’ve been made aware of the effort and difficulty in archiving digital and online science. The Open Respository will be kept up to date with archival standards to ensure the research stored will not be lost.
  • Open Access – What kind of open repository won’t allow for open access to the research that it contains? The information in the repository will be sharable, citable, licensed, and downloadable.
  • Tagging – Metadata! Metadata will be crucial for the repository. Without the ability to add/provide metadata to data sets, information won’t be searchable. The main reason for providing an open repository is so that research groups around the University and the nation/world will be able to search for data that is useful. Metadata provides the backbone for data accessibility.

The IGERT will encourage use of the repository for any purpose imaginable. Students can host data, notebooks, or any scientific information they wish. They will also be able to store posters, publications, presentations, educational material, etc. And we’ll work with the students to ensure that the repository is useful and useable by them and others. Hopefully the students will be part of the development of the repository, and this will provide them a tangible output from the IGERT program.