Kianoosh Taghizadeh, UT-Postdoc in Multiscale Mechanics, is one of the recipients of a FAIR Data Fund grant. Why and how is he making his data better Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Re-usable? ‘If all researchers make their data FAIR and publicly available it will save us all a lot of time and money. FAIR data accelerate research and make it more transparent. We should be confident enough to share our data’, says Kianoosh Taghizadeh.
Taghizadeh does multidisciplinary research which involves disciplines such as mechanical engineering, physics, and geomechanics. As a PhD and postdoc, he noticed that researchers from different disciplines don’t often read each other’s journals and therefore do not know about each other’s experiments and data. ‘We need to find a way in which researchers from different disciplines can communicate about experiments and data. The 4TU.ResearchData repository is a very good start.’
More experiments done than needed
Another thing that Taghizadeh observed, is that much more experiments are being done than needed. ‘This is because, even if we read about an experiment in a journal, we do not have access to the data from the experiments. And because we do not know where to “dig” for the data.’
Until not so long ago Taghizadeh placed his data on a hard disc in a corner of the cupboard after finishing an experiment, he recounts. ‘But one and a half years ago I had a publication of experimental data and the publisher asked me if I wanted to share these data in a data repository or the journal’s repository. I started looking for repositories. Our research group has a repository, but it is accessible for very few people. So, I was happy to discover 4TU.ResearchData and published the data there.’
‘I was not aware of how to place the data and I just placed a lot of plain text’
‘However, back then I was not aware of how to place the data and I just placed a lot of plain text. When colleagues wanted to access the data, I sent them the link, but they still could not access it because the README file was not well enough documented. Moreover, the data software format was not general enough for everyone to be able to open it. I then understood that I needed to refine and shape the data in another way.’
Wish to share data with other disciplines
Taghizadeh had the wish to share much more data, so when in the summer of 2021 he read about the FAIR Data Fund he applied. ‘I saw it as a good project to prepare my goal and vision of making my research data (re-)usable for other research disciplines and researchers in the future. The first time that I applied I did not get the grant, but I received valuable feedback from the referees. So, I decided not to give up, and to use the feedback and apply for a second time. I then obtained the grant!’
When applying for the second time Taghizadeh also asked UT’s FAIR Data Steward Zafer Ozturk for a review of his proposal. ‘I wanted to hear what was missing and how it could be improved. Ozturk happened to be on a holiday. But when he returned just a few days before the application deadline, he read the proposal and we had a half an hour meeting. He has helped me a lot with shaping my vision and with translating discipline-specific scientific terms into ‘FAIR’ vocabulary that can be read and understood by a broader public. I now try to also use different words when I am explaining in a README file or when I am documenting.’
With the help of two student assistants, Taghizadeh is now working on ‘refining and shaping’ his data in a way that everyone can use them. ‘We have a lot of experimental and computational data. We need to minimalize them to make them workable for future external users. During experiments, the device or researcher sometimes makes an error. We remove these data; we only keep the data that make sense and that we based our research conclusions and paper on.’
Good documentation enables validation
Taghizadeh uses the CC0 Public Domain Dedication Licence for his data, so there are no legal obstacles to reusing the research data. Furthermore, he makes the data accessible by changing the software formats so everyone can access them without special or commercial software, explains Taghizadeh. ‘I have a lot of X-ray tomography images, my raw data. My task is to find a way in which everyone can use these images with any software they want. The same goes for data that result from numerical computations (simulations) we must change them to a software format that everyone in the world can access. Lastly, we are working on good documentation: describing the workflows and processes of the experiments we have done. In that way, a colleague elsewhere can cross-validate the process, the calculations and the data that I have used.’
‘Other researchers and I too can benefit from making my data FAIR’
Not only others but I as well can benefit from this FAIRification and refinement of my data, emphasizes Taghizadeh. ‘I have learned to better organize my data. In this way, it will be much easier to use my data again later in my career and this will accelerate my research work.’ He highly recommends the use of the 4TU.ResearchData repository. ‘It brings honesty in research. We should be confident and honest enough to share our research data with others. Plus, it makes my life as a researcher easier as well. If a colleague wants to re-use my data, the only thing I must do is, send a link!’
About Taghizadeh Bajgirani
Taghizadeh is working as a post-doc on the research project ‘Granular Mixtures with Tailored Damping Properties’ run by the University of Twente and the University of Stuttgart. His research interest is to study the mechanical behavior of particulate materials, e.g., sand, from experimental, numerical, and theoretical aspects.
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