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TA-PM Retreat in Berlin

On May 23 and 24 , the FIZ Karlsruhe’s department for mathematics in Berlin hosted the first in person meeting of the NFDI4Chem TA-PMs (task area project managers). The meeting’s agenda featured a general training on OpenProject as well as discussions on various administrative topics.

For those unfamiliar with the operative structure of NFDI4Chem, the leads of all six task areas have appointed one or two task area project managers (TA-PMs) each. They meet on a regular basis, usually every two weeks via Zoom, to complete various administrative tasks, monitor the project’s progress, share success stories and discuss problems being met.

On May 23 and 24, all seven of them (see list and picture below), met in person at the department for mathematics of the FIZ Karlsruhe in Berlin. The busy agenda started with a 1.5 hour training on OpenProject and continued with topics such as format and documentation of deliverables, the upcoming midterm report and general processes in the consortium such as onboarding or management of the project’s file sharing system.

24 hours later, the TA-PMs left the meeting at the German capital with new tasks in their pockets, personal connections forged and a bottle of authentic Hessian “Ebbelwoi”, kindly provided by John Jolliffe.

TAName (partner)
TA1Christian Popp (FSU)
TA2Adam Basha (KIT)
TA3Christian Bonatto Minella (FIZ)
TA4David Rauh (IPB)
TA5John Jolliffe (JGU)
TA5Jochen Ortmeyer (RWTH)
TA6Katharina Hanske (TIB)

Consortium Meeting 2.5 – Connecting the Dots

On April 28, 2022, members of the NFDI4Chem consortium came together virtually in the morning to reflect on the progress of the project so far. Presentations set around three cross-cutting topics and a session dedicated to additional highlights also allowed for casting an eye into the future of the initiative. Roughly 60 participants from across the consortium were joined by ten members of the initiative’s four advisory boards.

Activities within NFDI4Chem are steadily increasing, resulting in an ever growing output of the consortium. Oliver Koepler, co-speaker of NFDI4Chem, highlighted this nicely in his welcoming remark to the Consoritum Meeting 2.5 on April 28, 2022. His short presentation featured an impressive slide headed “NFDI4Chem in numbers” (see figure 1). A staggering 100.000 messages exchanged on rocketchat and over 100 meetings, workshops, talks etc having taken place since the start of the project, bear witness to the truly communicative nature of the initiative.

Figure 1: NFDI4Chem in numbers.

To better illustrate the interconnectedness of the six task areas in NFDI4Chem, cross-cutting topics formed the backbone to the meeting agenda with contributions from across the consortium. Three sessions titled Metadata4chem, NMR4Chem and BestPractice4Chem featured presentations on the respective areas.

Steffen Neumann from the IPB led the first session. Together with Johannes Hunold, Bhavin Katabathuni and Philip Strömert he followed the flow of metadata in the research data life cycle and discussed models, storage and transport solutions for metadata in chemical research.

To present the work that has gone into FAIRifying data originating from NMR analysis, Johannes Liermann enlisted the help of Steffen Neumann, Nicole Jung, Michael Klix, Philip Strömert and Chandu Nainala. They gave an overview of how NMR data find their way from the lab to repositories and journals.

In the third session on best practices in NFDI4Chem, Nicole Jung with the help of Johannes Liermann and John Jolliffe recapitulated the advantages of ELNs, showcased the NFDI4Chem award and called for a cultural change in how errors are dealt with in academic research.

In the final session on recent highlights, Ulrich Schatzschneider presented TUCAN, a molecular identifier and descriptor that facilitates handling of metal complexes in ELNs.
Next, Kerstin Soltau introduced RADAR4Chem a new, generic repository for chemistry data, which the FIZ, partner in NFDI4Chem, recently launched.

The meeting closed with a lively discussion with questions from consortium members as well as from the advisory board.

New research data repositories for chemistry and cultural heritage

Researchers in the fields of chemistry and cultural studies now have access to new services for publishing research data. These are based on the established RADAR repository from FIZ Karlsruhe – Leibniz Institute for Information Infrastructure.

As part of its collaboration in NFDI4Chem, FIZ Karlsruhe now offers “RADAR4Chem”, a powerful service for researchers in the field of chemistry to easily publish their research data. RADAR4Chem complements the existing portfolio of subject repositories in chemistry and can be used by researchers free of charge and regardless of their institutional affiliation. It enables the publication of any data type and format, thereby offering various application scenarios. Another new repository called RADAR4Culture similarly addresses the cultural sciences and humanities.

The NFDI aims to build on existing infrastructures and services and make them interoperable. In this context, discipline-specific repositories for the publication and long-term archiving of digital research data are of particular importance for the scientific communities. However, existing offerings do not cover all relevant use cases in scientific practice, as analyses by the NFDI consortia have shown. A generically oriented data repository such as RADAR from FIZ Karlsruhe can help close these gaps.

RADAR is a service designed to meet the needs of researchers and has proven its worth over several years. So far, it has been used primarily by academic institutions for institutional research data management. In keeping with its claim to sustainability, FIZ Karlsruhe is now making RADAR directly accessible to researchers and adapting the service for the two new offerings – RADAR4Chem and RADAR4Culture – to the respective discipline-specific requirements.

Dr. Felix Bach, head of the research data department at FIZ Karlsruhe and co-spokesperson of NFDI4Chem, explains: “RADAR4Chem and RADAR4Culture expand the range of options for FAIR data publication in the disciplines of chemistry and cultural sciences and humanities within the framework of the NFDI. Hereby, we provide scientists with a low-threshold solution that enables them to publish digital data together with descriptive metadata and Digital Object Identifiers (DOI). “

“With NFDI4Chem, we want to initiate a cultural change in research data management in chemistry,” says Christoph Steinbeck, Professor of Analytical Chemistry, Chemical Informatics and Chemometrics at the University of Jena and NFDI4Chem spokesperson. “To do this, we need powerful and reliable tools from renowned partners, such as RADAR4Chem from FIZ-Karlsruhe. With it, a repository is launched that researchers can rely on and that enables the storage of data without major hurdles.”

Prof. York Sure-Vetter, director of the NFDI, also considers the launch of RADAR4Chem and RADAR4Culture an important achievement: “To make data treasures available on a broad scale, research data management is needed that starts with the researchers themselves. The services RADAR4Chem and RADAR4Culture enable academics to share (meta)data with their communities and ensure their reusability. Both data repositories thus are an essential step towards a sustainable research data management and a crucial milestone for NFDI.”

The technical infrastructure for RADAR is operated in Germany and is therefore subject to German law. For RADAR4Chem and RADAR4Culture, a storage quota is provided free of charge by FIZ Karlsruhe and the cooperating data centres at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) and the Technical University (TU) Dresden. This means that researchers who want to make their data available FAIRly do not have to pay any publication or usage fees. Like RADAR, the two new services also enable the publication of any data types and formats and thus allow a wide range of application scenarios.

Researchers from the respective subject communities who would like to use RADAR services can find more information on the websites of FIZ Karlsruhe and the subject consortia NFDI4Chem and NFDI4Culture.

The NFDI network collects information about resources for scientists from Ukraine

Putin’s war against Ukraine has left the world in shock. NFDI4Chem stands in solidarity with the people in Ukraine.

The NFDI head office is collecting links, contact addresses and services that can help affected scientists from Ukraine. They can be found under the following link:
https://www.nfdi.de/important-links-for-scientists-from-ukraine/?lang=en

The helpdesk at NFDI4Chem is also available to help connect those in need with partners in our network all over Germany.

NFDI4Chem Advisory Boards

NFDI4Chem has assembled its Advisory Boards (ABs). With five to six members each, they represent four different communities: industry, publishers, the national and the international research community.

The ABs provide independent and scientific support and advice to the consortium. They assist NFDI4Chem in ensuring the project’s strategy and progress in terms of meeting the project’s objectives.

Following suggestions from the consortium and discussions in the Steering Committee, the consortium speakers invited the representatives to join the ABs. They first assembled at the Consortium Meeting 2.0 and shared their first impressions of the initiative’s efforts so far. The ABs will continue to meet once a year alongside the full consortium meeting. Their evaluation of the project’s progress will ensure that the consortium is on track and develops and delivers services which align with the mission of the NFDI in general and which address the needs of the chemistry community.

For more information and for a full list of members of our Advisory Boards take a look here.

A New Look for NFDI4Chem

NFDI4Chem launched its new logo in the last quarter of 2021. The simple, clear, and recognisable graphic was designed to align with the key concepts of research data management in chemistry.

On November 10, a little over one year after the consortium’s Kick-Off, NFDI4Chem launched its new corporate identity. The original logo, composed of a flurry of hexagonal shapes tinged in light shades of blue, was well-liked by the majority of the consortium members. However, due to its complexity and level of detail, it proved impractical for many digital applications. Therefore, NFDI4Chem commissioned the design of a new logo and corporate identity early in 2021. After gathering several offers, timespin, a company based in Jena, won the contract.

timespin’s carefully thought-out design manages to visually capture the mission of the initiative, namely to build an open and FAIR infrastructure for research data management in chemistry. The integration of several components, all inspired by the FAIR principles (see image below), resulted in a simple, clear, and recognisable graphic that aligns well with the key concepts of research data management in chemistry. The new logo resumes the hexagonal shape from the original logo and picks up blue as the main color, but uses a bolder and more modern shade. In the style of chemical formulas, NFDI4Chem comes with a subscript “4” in the logo, which optionally carries the claim “enhance your data”. A set of colours, recommended font, and templates for prevalent applications complete the tools towards a coherent, visual identity of NFDI4Chem.

Colours and logo have also been replaced on the NFDI4Chem website. However, this is only a temporary fix. With the input from the NFDI4Chem Steering Committee, timespin is currently working towards a complete overhaul of the NFDI4Chem website. So, watch this space!

FAIR-inspired components who make up the new NFDI4Chem logo

Short Report on the 2nd Consortium Meeting

NFDI4Chem held its second consortium meeting on 14 and 15 October 2021. The members of the consortium were joined by representatives from all four Advisory Boards. A full programme highlighted the progress of the consortium after the first year of work as well as the challenges ahead.

October 2021 marked the first anniversary of NFDI and all NFDI consortia of the first selection round, including NFDI4Chem, of course. To look back on what was achieved in the first year of work and to cast an eye on the challenges ahead towards building a national research data infrastructure in chemistry, the partners in NFDI4Chem gathered on 14 and 15 October for their second consortium meeting. Again, owing to the ongoing pandemic, plans to meet in person were abandoned at short notice and the event went virtual once more.

For the first time, the consortium members were joined by a nearly full representation of the NFDI4Chem Advisory Boards (ABs). Given the early stage of the project, the members of the ABs took a mostly observing position and did not provide a formal evaluation. Nonetheless, they participated actively in the discussions and critically challenged the consortium members on the presentation of achievements and future plans. Reassuringly, the consortium was met with a lot of praise for its efforts and received strong encouragement to continue on its current path.

Early in the planning of Consortium Meeting 2.0, the Steering Committee had decided to engage colleagues who build the individual components of the infrastructure on a day-to-day basis. To this end, a series of flash talks, each approximately five minutes long, accompanied the respective reports from the five technical task areas. As there were more talks than slots available on day one, an additional, dedicated flash talk session took place on the second day of the meeting. Topics included data repositories, universal molecular identifier, ontologies, guidelines for standards or copyright issues, to name but a few.

The programme of the meeting was rounded off with a session on news from the NFDI family, progress reports on all four sections of the NFDI e.V., a discussion of administrative aspects of the consortium, an introduction of the project management tool Open Project, and two rounds of general discussion at the end of both days.

Last but not least, the Consortium Meeting helped raise the number of @nfdi4chem followers on Twitter over the 500 mark.

NFDI4Chem, Consortium “Gemäß Satzung”

NFDI4Chem has been created as a consortium within the NFDI e.V. and has confirmed its spokespersons at its first general meeting.

The “Nationale Forschungsdateninfrastruktur eingetragener Verein” (NFDI e.V.; e.V. is a type of German legal entity) was founded on 12 October 2020. It gives the NFDI the legal framework it needs to operate independently. Founding members of the “Verein” are the German Federation and all its 16 states. Every organisation that is part of a funded NFDI consortium or any legal entity that is expected to make a substantial contribution to realise the cause of the NFDI e.V. can apply to become a member (Kurzinfo NFDI e.V).

The way the NFDI Verein operates is laid out in its “Satzung” (constitution), which you can find here: NFDI Satzung. To capture the landscape of the funded NFDI consortia (consortia “gemäß BLV”), mirror images of all funded consortia are created within the NFDI e.V. as the so-called consortia “gemäß Satzung”. The composition of these consortia is supposed to reflect the funded ones, but it does not have to be identical. Importantly, only organisations that have joined the NFDI e.V. as members can be represented within them.

NFDI4Chem “gemäß Satzung” was one of the first consortia to be created in the NFDI e.V. All but three partners of the consortium “gemäß BLV” have joined the NFDI e.V. at the time of writing this article. Due to legal reasons, the spokespersons for the consortium “gemäß Satzung” had to be independently elected. This election took place on 25 June 2021 in a virtual meeting via Zoom. Christoph Steinbeck and Oliver Koepler stood for the position of spokesperson and deputy spokesperson, respectively. The election was uncontested. They were unanimously elected for the role (one eligible partner did not attend the meeting, accounting for one abstention).

The NFDI e.V. is still in its building phase. Slowly but steadily the internal structures are being established and the various organs that are overlooking and advising its work are coming together. For example, in the coming months the first general meeting of all members will take place. Their first task is to elect the three scientific members of the “Kuratorium” (board of trustees), which were nominated by the member organisations.

Kicking off NFDI4Chem

The NFDI4Chem consortium met in October to mark the official start of the project.

On 14 and 15 October, the members of the NFDI4Chem consortium met virtually to kick off the national research data infrastructure for the German chemistry community (NFDI4Chem). Around 50 representatives of the consortium’s 27 partners gathered to present and discuss the workplan for the five years that lie ahead.

After its successful application in the first NFDI selection round, funding for the NFDI4Chem consortium started on 1 October 2020. Exactly two weeks into the project, on 14 and 15 October, the initiative assembled its members for a virtual Kick-Off. While a physical meeting had originally been scheduled to take place in the Rosensäle of the Friedrich-Schiller University (FSU), developments in the ongoing pandemic led the organisers to adapt an online format. The meeting, which was opened enthusiastically by the president of the FSU Jena, Prof. Walter Rosenthal, brought together around 50 members from across all 27 partners of the project.

Amongst the participants was the director of the NFDI, York Sure-Vetter, who presented the collaborative and interdisciplinary context of the overarching NFDI initiative. The NFDI, which recently became an “eingetragener Verein” (e.V.), is also a mandated member of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC).

Completing the introductions with a presentation on the mission of NFDI4Chem, namely building an open and FAIR infrastructure for research data management in chemistry, the consortium speakers Christoph Steinbeck and Oliver Koepler set the scene for the core part of the meeting, the presentation and discussion of the task areas. In short and succinct ignite talks the TA leaders gave overviews of the individual work plans: TA 2 Smart labs (Nicole Jung), TA 3 Repositories (Felix Bach & Matthias Razum), TA4 Standards (Steffen Neumann & Christoph Steinbeck), TA5 Community (Johannes Liermann & Sonja Herres-Pawlis) und TA6 Synergies (Oliver Koepler). With time as the limiting factor at the Kick-Off, all TA leads are now planning individual meetings with the task area members to discuss in depth the next steps to embark on realising the project.

The second day of the Kick-Off meeting dealt with administrative aspects of the project. The speaker Christoph Steinbeck and the project manager Christian Popp gave an overview of the structural aspects, updates on the progress of the consortium agreement as well as financial matters concerning the distribution of funds. They also discussed with the consortium the tools and communication channels they intend to use.

The success of NFDI4Chem will greatly depend on effective interaction with existing national and international efforts, as well as close collaboration within the NFDI. With this in mind, the last leg of the Kick-Off journey comprised of a presentation from Florian Schön (RWTH Aachen, TA5) on national initiatives and networking maps and a talk by Oliver Koepler about the cross-cutting topics that unify all NFDI consortia.

The NFDI4Chem Kick-Off meeting, which had also featured interactive coffee breaks and a social, albeit virtual evening gathering with beer and wine, closed with a final discussion round. The NFDI4Chem partners are now busy filling the approximately 40 positions that are funded by the project. While a handful of people have taken up their work already, recruiting the workforce that is necessary to realise the initiative’s ambitious plans, which you can find described in detail here (RIO article), will likely continue well into 2021.