The Scientific Software Engineering Center (SSEC) at the University of Washington has been co-awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to host a workshop that will explore an open-source development model for public datasets. Data science tools and methods, including AI and machine learning, have the ability to accelerate scientific discovery in a wide range of fields of study. As more researchers are utilizing these tools to produce large, publicly-available datasets, it becomes increasingly important to create a set of standards that can grow over time and be applied to both existing and future digital repositories.
SSEC’s “Towards an Open Source Model for Data and Metadata Standards” workshop will bring together a group to analyze open-source development models that can aid in the creation and adaptation of these interdisciplinary standards. By bringing together a diverse group of stakeholders, the workshop will build connections and share knowledge across a wide range of disciplines about the application of the open-source model to data and metadata standards. Open-source governance provides collaborators with a voice in the development of the standards, which can consider use-cases and concerns that are not addressed in a top-down model of standards development. The goal of the workshop is to discuss examples where an open-source model for standards development has had significant impact on the practice within a field as well as discuss cases where this model has not worked in the past, and cases where this model is not a good fit.
“We are excited to work with SSEC to explore the open-source model as a way to design and evolve the ways in which data is shared,“ said Ariel Rokem, Research Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology, who is the principal investigator of the grant. “Open-source software communities have led the way demonstrating how multiple points of view can be incorporated into technical developments, and the research community more broadly has a lot to learn from these innovations to advance ways that we share research data.”
The Scientific Software Engineering Center was created in January 2022 as part of the Virtual Institute of Scientific Software (VISS) program to connect researchers with software engineers at UW who can build scalable, open software in order to facilitate accelerated scientific discovery across all fields. The VISS program has helped launch SSEC and three other centers based at the University of Cambridge, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Johns Hopkins University. SSEC is currently working on several collaborative projects that apply software engineering to areas like genetics, neuroscience, seismology, and oceanography.