VU Amsterdam Earth Sciences researchers try out iRODS/Yoda RDM platform

‘This gives us the opportunity to draw attention to our subject-specific needs during the development.’

12/10/2019 | 1:45 PM

Professor Sander Houweling is one of the Earth Sciences researchers who is participating in the VU Amsterdam pilot for the iRODS/Yoda research data management platform. ‘We like to think along with IT and the University Library. This gives us the opportunity to draw attention to our subject-specific needs during the development of the iRODS/Yoda RDM platform.’ Sander_Houweling_AW_kleiner

Securely storing data for long periods in all phases of a research project
Yoda, ‘Your Data’, was developed by Utrecht University on the basis of the open source software iRODS. This online platform allows you to securely store large amounts of data for relatively long periods at all stages of a research project. It also offers handy functionalities such as a persistent identifier for publishing your data, the ability to collaborate with fellow researchers on the stored data, controlled access and metadata.

Making FAIR data management easier
The pilot is taking place within the VU Research Support programme, which focuses – among other things – on making it easier for researchers to satisfy the requirements of funders (NWO, ZonMw). For example, Open Science, reproducibility and FAIR data (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) management. Co-creation with researchers and alignment with the needs of faculties are important starting points of the VU Research Support programme.

Large amounts of data
‘In Earth Sciences, we work with large amounts of data’, says Houweling. ‘Personally, I collect a lot of satellite data for my research on greenhouse gases. I also generate my own data sets derived from these data using numerical models.’

More stringent RDM requirements imposed by funders and publishers
‘In Earth Sciences, we’ve been thinking for a long time about how to improve the organisation of our data management. We have noticed that funders and publishers are imposing increasingly stringent RDM requirements, such as an RDM section in grant applications. And journals increasingly want you to indicate where your data is publicly available. Therefore it is handy that we can now experiment with support from the VU Research Support Programme.’

Pleasantly surprised by the user-friendliness
‘We are still figuring out a lot of things, so it’s a little early to say how well Yoda works for us’, says Houweling. However, so far, he has been pleasantly surprised by the user-friendliness: ‘It’s accessible and simple.’

Findable, reusable and accessible archiving
In Earth Sciences, Yoda experiments are currently being carried out with the data from three projects. ‘In the first experiment, the project has been completed and all the research data is already available. We now want to put it into Yoda in such a way that it can easily be found and reused by colleagues inside and outside VU Amsterdam. Yoda also forces us to think about licences. You can’t put data into Yoda without specifying which licence applies. So now I'm exploring the various types of creative commons licences.’

Experimenting with automated data archiving
‘In the second project, the data stream is currently being generated. We want to create a connection between the device that generates the data and Yoda. The aim is for the data to be automatically archived in Yoda. In the first experiment, we saw that the metadata we use for this project is difficult to place in the generic Yoda template and that the system asks questions that are not relevant to our field. Something tailored to Earth Sciences might be needed. In the third experiment, we are also aiming to achieve automated data recording in Yoda. This involves fieldwork data that we are collecting together with other parties.’

SURF Research Drive
‘A pilot with SURF Research Drive is also underway within the VU Research Support Programme. Within this pilot, you can also store data and collaborate on this data with other researchers at and outside VU Amsterdam. In Earth Sciences, we are now examining the fundamental differences between Yoda and SURF Research Drive and how these systems could be combined to enhance each other.’

Sincere interest
Houweling is enthusiastic about the collaboration with the VU Research Programme. ‘We feel that there is genuine interest and a mutual desire to develop a good RDM system together. The programme staff recently gave a presentation on the programme and the iRODS/Yoda pilots in our department meeting, which people found useful. Our colleagues would like to be kept informed of our findings.’

iRODS/Yoda pilots within the National SURF programme
Yoda has already been tested at the Amsterdam Institute for Molecules, Medicines and Systems (AIMMS). Yoda pilots are currently underway at various Dutch universities (UvA, TU Delft, WUR, TU Eindhoven, Erasmus University and Leiden University). Experiences will be exchanged in a national SURF-led programme to further improve the system.

Yoda pilots at VU Amsterdam
Read more about Yoda pilots at VU Amsterdam: Enabling research data management iRODS/Yoda (PDF).

Any questions?
Contact or