1. Introduction and Motivation

Photon and Neutron Science (PaN) facilities provide measurement and analysis infrastructure and services based on radiation sources for very diverse disciplines including: archaeology; material sciences; the natural sciences; and medicine. These support studies that require the detailed analysis of the structure of matter. The growing volume and complexity of the experimental data produced, as well as the required computing power for analyzing them, require a facility-wide infrastructural solution for data management, as they usually go beyond what an individual scientist can handle. Further, this data explosion drives the increasing need for on-site analysis infrastructure, rather than analysis on user’s resources. Also, researchers need high quality data and reliable knowledge about previous experiments to form the basis of their work. Therefore, integrating the data into the existing infrastructure is required to ensure that data is used and reused to maximize the scientific return. It is now recognized that the use of Data Management Plans within PaN facilities is required to underpin sound data management processes and support the collection of FAIR data, as they ensure advanced consideration of how the data will be handled.

In many research projects, Data Management Plans (DMPs) are formally required, which is the case for most publicly funded research projects. Funding agencies very often request that research data generated in funded projects is made available for future re-use, and therefore are demanding the generated research data comply with the open access and FAIR data principles (). To meet these requirements, funding agencies are demanding the elaboration of DMPs at proposal time—or at least at research-fund contracting time. Within organizations that provide research infrastructure, DMPs assist in the planning of data curation, managing resource requirements for its storage and processing, and satisfying the requirements of funders and legal authorities. However, the creation of DMPs and FAIR data is an administrative burden, and different approaches exist to ease this burden through automation (). The creation of DMPs also asks for distinct knowledge of FAIR data in the community and of the infrastructure that creates research data in the facilities.

This paper has been written in the context of the EOSC projects PaNOSC () and ExPaNDS () Photon and Neutron Data Service., no date). Both projects together represent a significant portion of the PaN facilities in Europe. Both projects aim to provide a framework for PaN facilities to enable the production and use of FAIR data from experimental processes. The use of DMPs forms a significant part of that framework, which is reported in detail in Bolmsten et al. (), Görzig et al. (), and Görzig et al. (). This paper summarizes this work and places it within a wider project management framework.

Further, while we focus on PaN facilities, the approach, data model, and workflows should also be applicable to other infrastructures, where the research equipment providers or maintainers support visiting researchers using the equipment.

This paper will first introduce the Research Data Management (RDM) requirements of PaN facilities, introduce a data model that allows the (semi-)automation creation, execution, and use of DMPs, and conclude with the introduction of a DMP system. The following section will first introduce RDM and DMP requirements in PaN facilities, introduce a project management method, and show how to apply this project management method on information flows in PaN facilities.

2. PaN RDM requirements and Project Management

DMP information requirements in PaN facilities

We first introduce the DMP requirements in PaN facilities by giving an overview of research workflows, involved roles, and infrastructures. In this section, the requirements of data handling in PaN facilities will be explained by listing the general requirements given by facility data policies and requirements resulting from PaN specific recommendations on FAIR data.

Inside the PaN facility, a typical workflow for facility experiments that will take place has been elaborated in Matthews et al. (), where the roles and workflows in different stages of the research lifecycle in PaN facilities were analyzed. Typically, the first contact of a researcher with a PaN facility is the facility’s user office. The researcher must submit a proposal to request a slot for measuring time on a specific instrument provided by the facility. This is assessed for scientific merit and feasibility, and after the approval and scheduling of time on the instrument, the experiment will be executed. Then, the data will be generated, stored, and analyzed, and the results ultimately published (cf. Figure 1).

Figure 1 

An idealized facility research lifecycle, simplified ().

The major actors involved in the research lifecycle are listed below ():

  • The Experimental Team: a group of largely external (e.g., university-based) researchers who propose and undertake the experiment.
  • The User Office: a unit within the facility dedicated to managing external users of the facility. User Office staff and systems will typically register users and process their applications for beam-time, in addition to arranging their visit to the instrument.
  • The Instrument Scientist: a member of the facility’s staff with specialist scientific knowledge of the capabilities of a particular instrument or beamline and its use for sample analysis.
  • Research Data Managers: within the facility support the collection and curation of data and are becoming more prominent as this task gains importance.

During the different stages of the research lifecycle, these actors interact with various information systems supported in the facility. Depending on the different instruments, these information systems and roles will have to be considered when implementing a system that supports the creation of DMPs (cf. Figure 2).

Figure 2 

Metadata collected and information systems supporting the stages of the Experimental lifecycle.

Data curation, validation, and reporting have been identified as main goals to achieve with active DMPs, known as aDMPs (; ). Validation comprises validation against the existing standards for the different PaN measurement techniques, but also validation against data policies. Reporting should be used to plan infrastructure usage in PaN facilities, as well as meeting funders’ requirements (). It is specifically stated that for data curation, information should be reused as much as possible, which can be done by also reusing pre-existing information available before a project proposal is even submitted.

Most PaN facilities in Europe have adopted data policies for their research data during the last decade. These data policies detail embargo conditions, open access requirements, access rules while under embargo, and the applicable licence for the research data (). Some facilities have updated their policies, integrated the usage of FAIR data, and included the obligation of DMP creation in their data policy (; ).

Further, recommendations for minimal metadata within FAIR Photon and Neutron Data management have been elaborated in Salvat et al. () and Soler et al. (). These recommendations are guided by the FAIR Data Maturity Model, or FDMM () to prioritize metadata as essential, important, and useful. These recommendations are meant to concretize the information required for re-usability in PaN, on top of specifications in the FDMM. We give the information considered as essential and important for experimental data in PaN as follows:


  • Visiting experimental team (user id)
  • Experiment date
  • Sample information
  • Instrument information
  • Calibration information


  • Experimental planning
  • Environmental parameters
  • Laboratory notebook
  • Instrument scientist

Project management structures and phases

While the previous sub-section described requirements on DMPs and FAIR data in PaN facilities, this sub-section will introduce a project management method that will later be used to form a strategy for organizing information about RDM in PaN facilities.

PMBOK® (Project Management Body of Knowledge Methodology) helped to structure and phrase the description of our FDM workflow; it is a project management standard and reference of the US-American Project Management Institute, PMI (). In PMBOK®, a project is divided into five process groups: initiation, planning, execution, controlling/monitoring, and closing—creating a basic projects’ workflow. Here, we describe two key characteristics of the method used for the purpose of organizing information.

The first characteristic considers the availability of project knowledge, which increases throughout the project’s runtime and can be divided into four phases. There is initial knowledge; planning knowledge, which can be updated during experiment execution; knowledge generated during the execution of a project; and knowledge generated after a project when it is finalized. With the knowledge generated in the final stage, the organizational knowledge might be updated (). How project knowledge about RDM increases during the project’s runtime has been described in Giaretta (), cf. Figure 3.

Figure 3 

Increasing knowledge throughout projects’ runtime and information flow.

While the first characteristic organizes the knowledge along the project’s runtime, the second characteristic organizes the knowledge by its origin and changeability. In PMBOK®, knowledge to be managed can be divided into: user/project knowledge; organizational knowledge, in PMBOK® called Organizational Process Assets (OPA); and general knowledge concerning laws, policies, and standards produced outside the institution, in PMBOK® called Enterprise Environmental Factors (EEF). EEFs are independent of the organization and evolve over the time, but are quite stable during a project. This knowledge is generated before a project starts. Organizational knowledge is generated in the organization independently from the project, and general knowledge is incorporated into organizational knowledge. Organizational knowledge evolves as instruments, software, and institutional policies change, for example. Organizational knowledge exists before a project is initiated ().

PaN RDM lifecycle and project management structures and phases

In this sub-section, information sources and phases for DMP information are described as they were analysed in Görzig et al. (). Then, we will explore how the aforementioned project management phases and structures can be used to analyze an update of pre-existing information on research infrastructure and normally created data.

Information sources for DMP creation related to DMP questions have been investigated in Bolmsten et al. () and Görzig et al. (). The first paper defined a DMP template suitable for facility users modifying the questionnaire from the Research Data Management Organiser, RDMO (), to adapt it to the requirements in PaN RIs. In the latter paper, this template has been reviewed, and suitable information sources for the answers to the questions in the DMP were identified and assigned to different phases in the PaN research lifecycle (see Table 1). The review of information sources shows that a high percentage of the questions could be already filled by reusing pre-existing information available before a project proposal is even submitted.

Table 1

DMP Phases.


0 Before proposal submissionTypically, knowledge of instrument from scientist or RDM team (static parameter).

1 Proposal submissionTypically, knowledge of the researcher, with support from the facility administration and RDM team.

2 Accepted experiment planningTypically, knowledge of the researcher, with support from the facility administration and instrument scientist.

3 Data Collection/Data processing/analysisTypically, knowledge of the user, with support from the instrument scientist.

In the following, the lifecycle of pre-existing information with its rated roles, IT systems, and phases will be elaborated. Applying the knowledge sources and phases from Görzig et al. () to the PMBOK®’s phases results in Table 2. Table 2 structures the information required for RDM in the PMBOK®’s phases with the additional phase ‘Before project’ and related roles. During the project phases initiation, planning, execution, and finalisation, the pre-existing RDM information is mostly used by project personnel to create or execute the DMP, and project specific information is generated, while in the before and after phases, facility personnel are evaluating information generated by the project and updating the pre-existing information collected previously.

Table 2

PMBOK®’s phases and roles in RDM information collection.


Instrument scientistInstrument/software description, selection of applicable metadata standards, general dataset descriptionRequired project specific software, used instrumentations and their configurations, and standardsAdding/actualisation of instruments and software information

Data managerControlled vocabularies and standards administration, mapping metadata to standards, general data policies, policy executionAutomatic metadata extraction and validationOpen access of research data, validation of policy execution; actualization of standards and policies

User officeProposal information, instrument to be used, (co-) proposers

Experimental team(research)Concrete dataset description, references to additional information, metadata schema selection, estimated amount of datasets produced, dataset usage, special (own) software infrastructure requirementsExperiment execution: parameter and configurationsDataset selection, metadata completion, and validation

Experimental team (administration)Specific policies and DMP requirements for project, funding, participating researchersDMP actualizationDMP actualization after experimentsDMP actualization

The knowledge held by the data manager is mostly about standards, metadata schemata, and policies. Part of the information contributing to the knowledge is independent from the facility and evolves inside the scientific community, with funding regulations, or laws. This knowledge could be shared with other facilities and be classified as EEF. Examples are:

  • Funder Policies including FAIR data requirements and Open Access requirements
  • Laws like EU General Data Protection Regulation (GPDR)
  • Scientific technique specific requirements on (FAIR) data
  • General validation schemata for metadata
  • Software for dataset usage

The data manager has an overview of e.g., how a specific standard is applied inside the facility and about facilities policies. The latter can evolve as facility’s internal discussions lead to additions and changes, and the knowledge can be classified as OPA. A detailed overview can be found in the next section (cf. Table 3).

Table 3

Facility wide metadata.


repositoryThe repository information comprises the name and access URL where the data is made accessible.

licenceThe license usually applied to the data in the repository.

securityInformation about e.g., backups and replicas of the data and other special security information.

pid_systemThe default PID system applied in the repository e.g., handles or Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs).

personal_dataIn case personal information in research data is treated on a facility level, e.g., no personal information is allowed in research data more than required for provenance.

min_storage_periodThe minimum period research data has to be available for good scientific practice.

archiveData archive used. If it is the same as the repository, then no URL needs be provided, as the access procedures have to be described.

certificateIf the repository is certified and with which certificate e.g., CoreTrustSeal.

arrangementsFor the data produced in a research project, an arrangement with the data repository that will receive the research data has to be made. In case a proposal in PaN facilities is approved, it normally includes the usage of the repository.

embargo_periodIn the data policy of the PaN facilities, there is also an embargo period defined.

access_controlHow the access to the data repository is controlled.

costsIn case a proposal in PaN facilities is approved, it also normally includes the costs for research data management.

The other part of an organization’s internal OPA is the information held by the instrument scientist. Here, the information evolves as changes to the instrument or software are made. Whilst the data managers have an overview about the standards and metadata used in the facility, the instrument scientists know which standards apply to the data measured at their specific instruments. The instrument scientist has knowledge about the typical characteristics of the datasets created by the instruments. A detailed overview can be found in the next section (cf. Tables 4, 5).

Table 4

Metadata for scientific techniques related to metadata schema and file format.

techniqueDescribes a scientific technique.

      nameA name or label of the technique.

      PIDE.g., the IRI in the PaNET Ontology ().

      metadata schemaRelated to the technique are the requirements on metadata. There can be more than one metadata schema and format used in practice.




                  readingSoftware for possible usage.

                  writingPossible software for writing the format.

                  validationTools for validating the data against e.g., NeXus application definitions.

                        validation schemaSchema complies with metadata schema above, used for validation with a tool.

Table 5

Metadata for datasets.


namea default name

descriptiona project independent description of the dataset that can be adapted in projects

contributorcontributing persons, typically identified via ORCIDs

reproducibleif the dataset is reproducible and under which efforts

interested_communitymight be derived from disciplines

usagethere might be some default usage scenarios, like calibration; otherwise the data sets’ intended usage in the project

archivalDMP question; moment, selection_criteria, and long_term_archival_reason might be used for automated execution and validation

data_securitymeasurements and responsible person

techniquesscientific techniques used to create the dataset

filecollectionsa collection of files created by one software instance; a dataset can contain more than one filecollection

            namea default name

            resourceinstrument or laboratory used to create the filecollection; preferable identified by PID

            storagelocation and access to experimental storage

            backuplocation and access to experimental storage

            quality_assurancedescription and pointers of e.g., validation workflows

            hardwaredescription of hardware components used to create the dataset; used for data curation

            writing_softwaredescription of software and its components used to create the dataset; used for data curation


                  namecan be a regular expression definition of default file names

                  formatthe format of the file (could be related to a format registry and relates to the technique table above)

                  metadata_schemathe metadata schema applied in the file (could be related to a metadata schema registry and relates to the technique table above)

                  sizeexpected minimum and maximum size of the file; average size

                  amountquantity of files; can be used together with size for estimating overall size and validation

processing_requirementshardware and software requirements for processing the data


typetype of hardware requirements like storage or processors of a certain type of computer; manufacturer and model are required

reading_softwarepossible software to use the data, including access and documentation, as well as required plugins










For some use cases, especially when automation and reproducibility are related, this information might be very detailed and underlie frequent changes. Therefore, this information often requires updates. How this can be supported by automation will be discussed in section 4.

The following section will focus on data modelling to store the pre-existing information that exists before a project starts and can be reused throughout various projects. The data manager and the instrument scientists are the main actors, holding information that exists before a proposal is submitted. Normally, the facility data policy applies to all projects and can be seen as a source of almost static, pre-existing information. Additionally, to the data policy requirements, other facility-wide guidelines and workflows can contribute to the pre-existing information held by the data managers. The instrument scientists have more concrete information about the instruments and the data they produce. The pre-existing organizational knowledge of data managers and instrument scientists will have to be connected and merged with information that arises during the proposal approval and execution of the experiment.

3. Data Model for Pre-Existing Information and Automation

In the previous section, the requirements for DMPs and the sources of information related to phases and origins have been introduced. To fulfill the envisioned tasks of data curation, validation, and reporting, in this section we describe the data model required to hold the information to comply with these tasks and support the creation and execution of DMPs. The first part will concentrate on the information and its meaning by giving some background; the second part will introduce an ontology describing the relations between the entities discussed before. After the pre-existing information about the research infrastructure and normally created data is modelled, the last sub-section will describe what actions in which phases of a projects/proposal’s lifecycle need to be executed on the data model to use and enrich the information.

Data modelling

In this sub-section, data models for facility, dataset, experimental techniques, projects, and policies will be introduced, taking as a starting point the questionnaire discussed in Bolmsten et al. () and Michaelis et al. (). In the questionnaire, entries from DMP phase 0 containing information existing before proposal submission were combined with entries where only the RDM team as a supporting source were selected. The following tables hold the most basic entities and their description.

Facility information

These entries were the base for the data model for the facility information. The sources of this information are mostly facility data policies and other conventions in the facilities (cf. Table 3):

Scientific technique information

Knowledge about the scientific techniques used in the experiment, with associated metadata standards and formats, are another area supervised by the data manager. This information tends to be stable for a set of experiments, although it evolves over time and grows as more standards are defined for particular techniques and others refined. Most of the information is independent from the facility and defined by the scientific community expert in those techniques.

The scientific technique very much dictates the structure and the semantics of a dataset. As seen below (cf. Table 4), the data model for scientific techniques, metadata standards, and formats does not have many entries, but its importance when organizing the data models is apparent, as the scientific technique prescribes the usage of metadata and formats. This will become clear in the next section about automation.

Dataset information

The information about the dataset generated in the experiment that can be contributed by the instrument scientist is less stable. It comprises basically the description of the dataset, and the infrastructure required for its creation, usage, and some DMP workflow-related information. The most basic components are typically hierarchically structured; the dataset contains one or more file-collections. A file-collection comprises files that are the output of one software that creates the files.

Table 5 shows the minimum information required for a dataset to meet DMP and FAIR data requirements. This includes related software, hardware, and instruments, for example.

Policy information

The DMP themes of the Digital Curation Centre (DCC), the University of California Curation Center (UC3), and the RDA Practical Policy WG break down RDM activities into a limited set of policies and resulting activities, although these may originate from a multiplicity of policy documents (; ).

The RDA WG Practical Policy has analyzed policies implemented in 30 different data management systems and identified 11 generic policies that were of interest (): Contextual metadata extraction, Data access control, Data backup, Data format control, Data retention, Disposition, Integrity (including replication), Notification, Restricted searching, Storage cost reports, and Use agreements. Of this list, the Contextual metadata extraction and the Data format control policies are of special interest, as the need to validate against FAIR data requirements and against specific metadata schemata and PIDs schemas are part of the DMP requirements in Görzig et al. (). Other policies, such as data backup and use agreements, are inherent in the data management system or managed outside the data repository or management system, and thereby are out of control of the data producers.

For each of the listed policies, templates have been provided containing ():

  • Policy name;
  • Example constraints that control application of the policy;
  • State information that is needed to evaluate the constraint;
  • Example operations that are performed by the policy;
  • State information that is needed to execute the operations.

Table 6 below shows the minimum information required to find and execute a policy in an abstract way as described above.

Table 6

Metadata for operations.


nameThe name of the policy.

constraintWhen the operation should be executed.

            typeEvent trigger or scheduled.

            valueTriggering event e.g. onCreation or date and time.

parametersArray of required parameters like path to a file or metadata schema for validation. The parameters are divided in input and output parameters.

operationPolicy related operation or workflow (referencing an executable workflow).

categoriesFor finding the operation, e.g., validation, integrity, format, extraction, interoperability.

descriptionA textual description about what the operation does.

Project information

The information mentioned in the previous sub-sections exists independently of a project and is rather stable. Therefore, it can potentially be reused throughout various projects. Apart from the experiment data, the project information is the least stable information. It changes for each project, but within a project, it can still be reused during its runtime. For modelling the project information again, the RDMO questions () and also the applied data structure for proposals in the ESS and the RDA DMP-common-standard () have been reviewed. The table (cf. Table 7) below shows the minimum information required to find and describe a project and start a workflow for applicable policy and dataset retrieval.

Table 7

Metadata for projects.


namename of the project

descriptionproject description

funding referencethe usage of a PID is advisable for later curation and integration into a graph model

membershere as well the usage of ORCIDs is advisable

start_datestart of the project

end_dateend of the project

disciplines/keywordsto retrieve RDM requirements and improve findability of the data

jurisdictionsto retrieve policy requirements; jurisdictions can be funders, national, institutional, or a laboratory/instrument

resourceinstrument or laboratory used to create data; used to retrieve possible dataset types created by the resource

In the next step, the entities described above will be related to each other by creating an ontology describing the DMP information concepts and their relationships (). Apart from describing these relationships, the ontology will allow future integration with other ontologies and metadata schemata and facilitate the retrieval of information. Therefore, it will still need to be related to terms in standard ontologies. First, the dataset will be described, then the dataset will be listed, and then the project and policies.


The basic components of a Dataset are Filecollections that consist of one or more Files. Dataset, Filecollection and File are sub-classes of a Digital object. A Dataset is created in the environment of an instrument or a laboratory, in the following generalised to Resource. A Resource and its components are normally managing a stack of Hardware and Software. A Filecollection is created by one Software instance running on a Hardware. The Filecollection is normally also the collection of Files that can be processed by a Software. The number and sizes of Files forming a Filecollection can be predefined, as well as the Format and Metadata schema of the Files. Additionally, a basic general independent description of the Dataset can be provided. This description can later be used as a template for a Project specific description. The relations of the Dataset class are summarised in Figure 4.

Figure 4 

Relations of the Dataset class.

Project – Datasets

A Project or proposal as it is typically called in PaN facilities, is the top-level entity aggregating all related Datasets. Projects can be organised in a hierarchy representing for example, the work packages of an overlaying funded Project. When a Project is planned, there is information on which Resource(s) will be used for dataset creation. Thereby, knowledge about the Datasets that are planned will be available and can be used in the DMP. The relations of the Project class are summarized in Figure 5.

Figure 5 

Relations of the Project class.

Scientific technique – Software

Tables 4 and 5 show that the Scientific technique is a central entity connecting experimental Resources, with Metadata schemata, Formats, and Software. A Resource can be used to conduct experiments with a certain Scientific technique. The Resource is chosen by a Project because of the Scientific technique it supports. The Scientific technique applied in an experiment defines what kind of metadata and data are produced, and which analysis methods can be applied to the data it generates. For the generated metadata and data, a Metadata schema can be applied when available. The semantics are described in a Metadata schema and depends on the Scientific technique. Therefore, the information a File or Filecollection should contain is prescribed via the Scientific technique. Nevertheless, the semantics of the Scientific technique can be expressed with different terminologies and in differing serializations, requiring different Metadata schemata and Formats; for example tomography measurements can result in a series of tiff images or images in a NeXus file, and the required information to process the data will stay the same. Thereby, the Scientific technique also defines which Operations can be run on a File or File collection. The relations of the Resource class and its associated techniques are summarized in Figure 6.

Figure 6 

Relationships associated with the Resource class and its associated technique.

In order to inform users and facility staff what Operations can potentially be executed by a Software on a File or Filecollection, and respective Software can be found, the Data type has been introduced. The Data type can be abstract or concrete, e.g., if a Data type ‘tomography images’ can be related to a specific set of Operations that can be executed potentially on all tomography data. To execute these Operations on tomography data, the concrete Metadata schema and Format of the images needs to be known. With this knowledge, a concrete sub-Data type of ‘tomography images’ can be created, e.g., ‘tomography images tiff beamline XY’. This concrete Data type can then be related to concrete Commands to execute the Operation. An Operation can be executed on a Data type using a concrete implementation with specific Software and Commands.

Policies – Operations

Policies can be related to Resources and/or Projects. They result in executed Commands on Datasets. Policies are normally described in policy documents. Operations differ in their parameters among the documents e.g., the embargo period might be three years or five years. To execute a policy, a chain of Commands might have to be executed. The Operation itself has an input and an output scheme, which represent expected input and result. The input and output of the executed Command need to be validated against these schemes.

DMP Support – Pre-existing information lifecycle – Knowledge transfer and (Semi-) automation

The pre-existing information should be used to pre-fill DMPs. Pre-filling of DMPs or semi-automated DMP creation has already been implemented e.g., at the Radbound University, where the DMP creation has been integrated to the CRIS system (); and ARGOS (), which pre-fills DMPs using repository information; and at the University of Vienna, integrating the DMP creation with various IT systems (). In these examples, CRIS and data repositories have been used to pre-fill the DMPs. In this paper, pre-existing information from laboratory or instrument infrastructure (previously named Resources) will be used to pre-fill the DMP. To hold the pre-existing information that has been introduced earlier, in this sub-section, the lifecycle of pre-existing information will be presented. Firstly, activities will be shown that are required for the maintenance, usage, and exposition of pre-existing information that is stored in a central knowledge base. Then, the filling and maintenance of the central knowledge base and consequently the usage for DMPs will be described.

The lifecycle of the pre-existing information includes the phases: Before project (OPA/EEF), its initiation, planning, execution, finalisation, and after project (OPA). The central knowledge base will be used for projects’ DMP creation, exposition, and execution. Before a project starts, the central knowledge base needs to be filled with the required information. This information might have to be updated during and after the end of the project. Table 8 lists the phases and related activities:

Table 8

Pre-existing information lifecycle phases and related activities.


Before project (OPA/EEF)Retrieve initial information for central knowledge base about Datasets of Resource from repository.
General update/insert knowledge base:
  • Metadata standards
  • Formats
  • Policies
  • Mappings

Project initiationInsert new project
Relate to resource

Project planningSpecify projects datasets:
  • Create project specific datasets
  • Relate to default datasets of resource
  • Update description
Create DMP:
  • Retrieve projects datasets and related information from central knowledge base and insert into a DMP tool
  • Retrieve facility specific information
  • Update information in DMP tool

Create concrete policy execution environment:

  • Retrieve to datasets related operations into execution environment

Project executionUpdate DMP
  • Retrieve projects datasets repository and update information in DMP tool

Execute operations on datasets

Project finalizationUpdate DMP
Execute operations
Select datasets for archival
Update concrete dataset descriptions

After project (OPA)Validate pre-existing information against projects datasets in the repository:
  • Update central knowledge base

In order to start filling the central knowledge base for the first time, datasets ingested into the data repository need to be analyzed and relevant information extracted. Relevant information to be found in the repository is: Data types produced at a Resource and their Formats; in case a standard is used, this can be extracted. Also, average quantity and sizes of files can be retrieved. In case standardised formats are used, metadata from the files can be obtained and eventually be related to Scientific techniques, File sizes and quantities. When creating a DMP, this information is frequently reviewed and can be updated in the central knowledge base.

When a DMP is created, project specific information needs to be provided. Therefore, firstly information can be acquired from e.g., the facilities proposal or other administrative systems. In a second step, dataset information from the selected IT systems can be requested from the central knowledge base and be concretized manually. The concretization can be based on e.g., option lists provided by the central knowledge base. In the ExPaNDS deliverable 2.4 (), the IT systems and roles used as information sources to create a DMP are listed. For creating a DMP, normally a DMP tool such as the Data Stewardship Wizard, DSW (), or the RDMO () are used. These two DMP tools have been analyzed in the ExPaNDS deliverable 2.8 () for having a central data structure. This central data structure is used to allow separate views for filling in the DMP questions and provide DMP information as required e.g., in the funder template. The data structure of the central knowledge base and the proposal or administrative system will need to be mapped to the central data structure of the DMP tool.

4. DMP System

This section proposes a design of an integrated aDMP system that supports the (semi-)automated generation and execution of DMPs by maximising the reuse of information generated during the research lifecycle, while supporting the scientists and other stakeholders by transferring knowledge between stakeholders and IT systems.

In Miksa, Oblasser and Rauber (), services required to automate DMPs are described. They analyzed tasks to be done when creating DMPs to design a high-level workflow to implement a system supporting machine-actionable DMPs. They have identified 13 application services with a varying degree of complexity, some institutional, and some shared with the outside world (). Existing IT systems that can contribute to the DMP creation have been analyzed in Görzig et al. (). In Görzig et al. (), components and their relations of a DMP system that are required to fulfil aDMP requirements as described in section 2 have been identified (Figure 7).

Figure 7 

Components for aDMP system ().

In most PaN facilities, the proposal system and the data repositories, and sometimes the sample DB are systems already in production. Most of them provide an API to access the data; Curation and validation tools may also exist for some data formats such as NeXus. The reporting and DMP tools are mostly integrated. PaNOSC implemented a DMP system, which integrated the proposal system with the DSW tool (). This represents a partial implementation of our proposed method, the missing components being the DataBase for holding pre-existing instrument information and the DataBase of static facility information, and their integration into the IT infrastructure.

The data repository with its catalogue and datasets, the DMP tool, and the proposal system additionally to the central knowledge base need to be considered when designing a dataflow between the systems that function as information sources and recipients. Beside them, the DMP tool, datasets, and the data repository, as well as the central knowledge base, are knowledge bases that are both source and recipients of further and enhanced information. Other IT systems that can contribute towards enhancing information may include external data and software repositories, data catalogues, vocabulary services, and data type registries, for example. The cycle of storing, enhancing, and using the information is shown in the image below (Figure 8).

Figure 8 

Pre-existing information enhance and use.

This cycle involves three layers in the architecture. In the storage layer, all the information is stored. This information needs to be extracted from this layer via APIs or metadata extractors and prepared for usage. This requires a mapping layer where mapping and joining information from different sources to the serializations and data formats required for usage and enhancement. Usage and enhancement happen in the usage layer, where for example, curation, validation, and notification tools, supporting GUIs from DMP tools, and metadata editors process the data either automatically or manually with human intervention. The newly generated information then needs to be fed back into the data layer.

5. Conclusions and Future Work

The first part of this paper shows how DMP relevant information is connected to organizations and has its own lifecycle that is independent from a project where the DMP is required. This information can be collected and maintained by organizational or facilities staff, for example, such as data managers and instrument scientists to be used by the projects, which trigger an update of the existing information. PMBOK served here as a method to structure the information of the source of its origin and its emergence in time. In the second part, a data model is introduced that can hold this pre-existing information. This data model is divided in three main sections, the facility specific information, the information around a Scientific technique, and the Dataset information (linked to a Resource). To create a DMP, this has to be linked to a Project; and for DMP execution, Policies have been introduced. In order to have a machine-readable serialisation of the information to fill a DMP, an ontology has been introduced. The paper concludes with an outline of a DMP system that supports the usage of the pre-existing information for DMP creation, execution, and validation. It builds upon existing facility infrastructure with new DMP relevant components in its center. But it also outlines how an information base with pre-existing information can be enriched semi-automatically to support the maintenance of this information, and to reduce the additional input required from the user, thus reducing the significant barrier for use scientists may experience when asked to complete a DMP.

Next steps

Future work is proposed in two areas: firstly, the integration of the internal inherent data models of the existing infrastructure with each other’s inclusive the adoption of interfaces to access the information from external systems to present, use, analyze, and enhance the metadata; and secondly, the integration of the presented DMP ontology with standard ontologies and vocabularies.

The components of the DMP system presented here normally work with data models designed for their respective applications; we propose that they should be integrated with each other. Therefore, their internal data models will have to be mapped with the presented DMP ontology, and interfaces for their integration will have to be created. Initial work on this is presented in Görzig et al. ().

The proposed DMP ontology is still under development and needs to be integrated with existing data formats and standards and non-discipline specific ontologies. Appropriate concepts for the terms used in the presented DMP ontology can be found in ontologies such as DCAT () and PREMIS (). These terms will have to be mapped. For integration with DMPs, the RDA DMP common standard () can be applied, and on a more PaN specific level, the data model described in Görzig et al. () should be taken further. Other PaN relevant standards that need to be considered are: the the NeXus format standard for measurement files in PaN facilities (); related scientific techniques such as for spectroscopy described in Hanson et al. (); and analytical chemistry in Rauh et al. ().

In the data repositories and their catalogues, different standards are used. For discovery purposes, DataCite metadata, an OAI-PMH interface, and a common search API are normally implemented (). Further, several PaN facilities operate the ICAT as a data catalogue and repository, which uses a common central metadata schema (; ; ). In addition to the ICAT metadata schema, other standards-based metadata are under development e.g., PaN ontologies NeXus and PaNET (). The data model in ICAT and also SciCAT—another popular repository tool used in PaN sciences ()—should be reviewed to maximize the information required for DMPs. For execution and validation of the DMP, the operations in the DMP ontology have been defined and will need to be mapped to a workflow language such as CWL ().