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INRA representative champions open science at UN

In New York on September 16, 2016, Odile Hologne, head of INRA’s Delegation for Scientific and Technical Information, affirmed the institute’s commitment to open science and open data in a speech given at a meeting held in the chambers of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSCO). The meeting was the last of the 2016 GODAN summit, which brought together international experts who wish to promote greater openness and sharing of agricultural and nutritional data and thus help ensure global food security.

In New York on September 16, 2016, meeting held in the chambers of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSCO). © INRA
By Nicole Ladet translated by Jessica Pearce
Updated on 01/30/2017
Published on 09/27/2016

Greater data sharing will boost innovation

Greater data sharing will boost innovation. This was the key point that Odile Hologne wanted to make during the last session of the GODAN summit, held in ECOSOC’s chambers; she was among several international representatives who had been invited to speak. She affirmed INRA’s commitment to carrying out open science—research whose results are accessible to the private sector, the general public, and the world. She declared, “[By committing to open science], we want to foster innovation and tackle the crucial [agricultural, nutritional, and environmental] challenges that society is facing. This involves making our data available and reusable, as well as making it possible to access data produced by others. It will be a long journey during which we will confront many technical, political, and ethical obstacles. We are convinced GODAN is an important forum where these challenges can be discussed with all the implicated stakeholders.”

GODAN, or the Global Open Data for Agriculture and Nutrition Project, was created following the 2013 G8 meeting. As its name implies, it promotes the open access of agricultural data so that society can respond to global food security challenges. Here, the definition of data is broad, extending beyond the data included in research publications; it also includes data on soils, climate, and agricultural production, among others. The group currently has 371 members: national governments, NGOs, international organizations, and private companies. During the UN’s session on using open data to ensure global food security, held on Sept. 16, 2016, GODAN brought together representatives from member countries. INRA also took part in the first GODAN summit; the institute has been a member since 2014. INRA has participated in several GODAN working groups, including one on data infrastructure, and is part of a GODAN project aiming to build an information-retrieval thesaurus that combines the three current thesauri of reference, the AGROVOC (FAO), the National Agricultural Library (USDA), and the CAB (CABI).

Hologne explains, “Thanks to our work with GODAN, we have strengthened our collaborations that promote open access, namely those with the FAO and other research institutes like the WUR in the Netherlands and the CSIRO in Australia.” Two European-level projects have arisen from these collaborations. They are slated to start in early 2017 and involve the FAO along with several other European countries. They are:

  • e-rosa, headed by INRA, which will establish a roadmap for building a digital infrastructure for agricultural data (duration of 18 months)
  • agINFRA+, led by Greece; INRA (i.e., MISTEA Joint Research Unit)  will be in charge of a subproject focused on big data and plant phenotyping (duration of 3 years)
Other contact(s):
Odile Hologne, Head of the Delegation for Scientific and Technical Information

INRA and open data

A policy, a commitment, and a question of ethics

INRA’s open-data research approach is part of the institute’s national research strategy (SNR) and is in line with the UN’s sustainable development goals. It also fits with the action plan proposed in the 2025 Agriculture-Innovation Report. As a generator of knowledge and data, INRA is committed to sharing its resources with other stakeholders, both inside and outside the research world. The institute is investing in tools and skills that will allow it to better manage its unique digital assets.
Link to http://2025.inra.fr/en >

INRA signed the Berlin Declaration in July 2004 and, over the past twenty years, has taken ever greater, tangible steps to promote open access to research data. The institute’s official position was formalized in May 2016 and involves seven guiding principles with two main objectives: to encourage transparency and generate both value and innovation.

The eighth opinion document issued by the INRA-CIRAD Common Advisory Committee for Ethics in Agricultural Research addresses moral and ethical issues related to the sharing and management of data, results of experiments and surveys, field observations, and visual images, among others. In the context of improving research transparency and openness, the committee underscores the need to carefully manage data quality, which is the basis for reliability. The question of what should or should not be shared is also raised.
Link to opinion document (in French) >

On the subject of

Standards and best practices for data interoperability

The Delegation for Scientific and Technical Information (DIST) represents INRA within the Research Data Alliance (RDA), a global initiative promoting research data sharing. The RDA was created in March 2013 at the initiative of Europe, Australia, and the United States. RDA promotes the sharing of data across technologies, disciplines, and countries. The DIST is an active participant in different working groups. In particular, it has joined with the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) to head a group on the interoperability of wheat data; the INRA center of Versailles-Grignon is highly involved. The group’s findings are exploited by partners of the Wheat Initiative, an international consortium for wheat research that INRA helped establish in 2011.