Cross-disciplinary sharing of samples and increasing awareness

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26 Jan 2021
Meeting objectives: 

This session will provide a forum for existing and emerging initiatives and projects related to physical samples in the research data ecosystem to update the community on their goals and activities, and to communicate, network, and coordinate with each other, with other RDA Interest Groups and RDA Working Groups, and above all, with the broader research community. The goal of this session is to converge on a shared vision and strategy for advancing discovery, accessibility, interoperability, and reusability of material samples across domains for the benefit of science and society.

Vocabularies are used everywhere to describe and categorize or classify physical samples. To enable cross-disciplinary sharing of samples we need to know the current location of samples, their individual key attributes as well as any data derived from them. However, metadata classes for samples widely overlap across disciplines, and vocabularies are often discipline-specific. As the use of samples in multi-disciplinary studies grows and discipline-agnostic services of identifying and cataloguing samples become a priority, we need to create a structure, in which the different disciplinary vocabularies can be catalogued, accessed, managed, and mapped to common metadata classes.  An example of a vocabulary agnostic service will be presented by the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC).

In addition, to increase awareness of the existing infrastructure and use cases related to physical samples the IG proposes to set up an infographic/flyer and to hold a webinar series. The infographic/flyer should provide a general overview and point the reader towards further information, comparable to the RDA 23 things output. A very rough draft will be presented during the meeting so that feedback from the IG can be incorporated and contributors can be identified. The proposed webinar series will consist of use cases from different disciplines. We would like to learn about the topics that members of the IG would like to see addressed, identify connections with other IG/WGs so that we can collaborate on hosting webinars, and invite contributions of any use cases that attendees are willing to present.


Link to the collaborative session notes:

Meeting agenda: 
  1. Welcome (10 minutes)

    1. Logistics & overview of session objectives 

    2. Announcements

  2. A national cross-discipline service for physical sample identifiers by Joel Benn (15 min + 5 min Q&A)

    1. ARDC: developing a vocabulary agnostic Samples registration capability (speaker to be confirmed).

    2. Audience can contribute additional projects and initiatives that they are involved with not listed above

    3. Questions & discussion

  3. RRID: resource identification and deposition in repositories and the role of journals by Anita Bandrowski (15 min)

  4. Infographic or FAQ flyer to increase awareness for physical sample management by Esther (20 minutes)

    1. Introduction to the draft

    2. Setting up a group to work on the flyer

  5. Webinar series by Esther (10 minutes)

    1. Introduction of potential topics for a webinar series

      1. Supporting reproducibility by capturing physical sample data and metadata in a connected electronic lab notebook (RSpace) by Rory Macneil

    2. Collecting interest and preferences for timezone 

    3. Anyone from the group/audience interested in presenting a use case?

  6. Synthesis and Next steps (10 minutes)

Target Audience: 
  1. Research data repository developers and providers who manage sample-based data;

  2. Curators and developers from sample repositories, museums, and other institutions who maintain physical sample collections and related digital sample and collection catalogues;

  3. Publishers and editors of journals that publish sample-based data; 

  4. Other stakeholders interested in topics such as persistent identifiers, metadata standards, and interoperability protocols for samples and sample-based data; and

  5. Researchers that use physical samples in their workflows and can provide case studies or insights for relevant metadata (standards).

Group chair serving as contact person: 
Brief introduction describing the activities and scope of the group: 

Physical samples are a basic element for reference, study, and experimentation in research. Tests and analysis are conducted directly on samples, such as biological specimens, rock or mineral specimens, soil or sediment cores, plants and seeds, water quality samples, archaeological artefacts, or DNA and human tissue samples because they represent a wider population or a larger context. Other physical objects, such as maps or analogue images are also direct objects of study, and, if digitized, may become a source of digital data. There is an urgent need for better integrating these physical objects into the digital research data ecosystem, both in a global and in an interdisciplinary context to support search, retrieval, analysis, reuse, preservation and scientific reproducibility. This group aims to facilitate cross-domain exchange and convergence on key issues related to the digital representation of physical samples and collections, including but not limited to use of globally unique and persistent identifiers for samples to support unambiguous citation and linking of information in distributed data systems and with publications, metadata standards for documenting samples and collections and for landing pages, access policies, and best practices for sample and collection catalog, including a broad range of issues from interoperability to persistence.

Short Group Status: 

 The group formed in Montreal and P10 and has met at each plenary ever since (see here for an overview).

Type of Meeting: 
Working meeting
Avoid conflict with the following group (1): 
Avoid conflict with the following group (2): 
Meeting presenters: 
Esther Plomp