GBIF staff join the FAIRsharing Community Champions Programme

BiCIKL guides development of FAIRsharing-powered web app enabling EU-funded project partners to share their collective knowledge on biodiversity-related standards, databases and policies

Second-order network graph for GBIF
The BiCIKL web app reveals links between organizations that implement FAIR data standards, databases and policies as represented in FAIRsharing.

This news item also appears on the FAIRsharing blog

Members of the GBIF Secretariat joined staff from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) last year as early adopters of the FAIRsharing Community Champions Programme.

Together, GBIF's three champions—executive secretary Joe Miller, administrative assistant Annie Ørum-Kristensen and communications manager Kyle Copas—have contributed around 500 separate annotations to FAIRsharing while facilitating others from the partners an EU-funded project called the Biodiversity Community Integrated Knowledge Library, or BiCIKL.

BiCIKL’s aim is to crosslink infrastructures and enable researchers to access integrated services for biodiversity data. As such, FAIRsharing.orgpresented a unique existing resource for revealing and exploring interconnections between various kinds of FAIR resources. In this interview, Kyle Copas outlines how GBIF and its partners in the BiCIKL consortium became involved as Community Curators for the biodiversity area on FAIRsharing.

Explore the work

How did GBIF benefit from serving as FAIRsharing champions?

Kyle Copas: We were responsible as work package leaders for producing a landscaping analysis, which now seems to come standard with any EU-funded project. But we didn't really want to produce yet another static deliverable that sat on the shelf—in fact, we had more than a few of those in hand from previous efforts. What we proposed instead was a more dynamic yet non-duplicative approach that we felt could provide greater long-term value, not just to BiCIKL but also the wider community.

We were pleased and not altogether surprised that the BiCIKL project partners fully supported the idea. Most are active in broader initiatives like the Research Data Alliance and the European Open Science Cloud, and FAIRsharing is itself a resource supported by ELIXIR-UK, one of the BiCIKL partners.

When we approached the team at FAIRsharing, it quickly became clear that working together could serve our common interests as well as our specific goals. GBIF wanted to leverage FAIRsharing's framework for curating domain knowledge from its 14 BiCIKL partners, each of whom could share their knowledge of the biodiversity-related databases, standards and policies they relied on while improving the information available through FAIRsharing. Meanwhile, we could give FAIRsharing an early opportunity to test the roles and permission models they were preparing to support what's become the Community Champions Programme.

At the same time, we could begin to explore the underlying links between the organizations responsible for each FAIRsharing resource. These entities aren't exposed as fully on FAIRsharing (yet), and we wanted to visualize the connections and draw out links to a wider network of institutions, each of which represented a potential future collaborator for the BiCIKL consortium.

We worked with Extendo, a Costa Rican-based consultancy, to develop a lightweight, flexible web app for analysing the BiCIKL network. By reusing and extending organizational data from FAIRsharing, the BiCIKL team can identify additional areas of opportunity where targeted outreach may expand the consortium's network and also guide the development and trajectory of educational and training materials. The web app functions essentially as a prototype market-research tool for the project partners.

Has the time you invested been worth it?

KC: For the BiCIKL project, we definitely came out the better in the end. Even though we started with a fairly intensive and front-loaded effort to add partners whose resources weren't already included in FAIRsharing, the results of our efforts were readily accessible to the wider community, where others can update or improve upon them as needed.

We'd be even more satisfied if it turns out that others can extend and build on our initial explorations of the organizational network graph for FAIRsharing. For anyone inclined, the source code for the web app is openly available in this GBIF GitHub repo.

How have you personally found the experience?

KC: I was shattered to learn that working with ontologies and vocabularies can be a challenge ;-)

Seriously, it's been very rewarding, even as it's generally been a challenge to find the time and space to give the content the dedicated focus the job requires, at least to do it well. There's much more we'd like to do to further refine the content in FAIRsharing.

What I most want to say is how rewarding it's been to work with the team at FAIRsharing. They have been extremely supportive and willing partners, and this effort wouldn't have gone anywhere without them. They worked quickly to troubleshoot and implement improvements that resolved all the inevitable issues that arose once we started working with a portion of their data that hasn't been as widely used or explored. I hope that worked both ways.

Biodiveristy Community Integrated Knowledge Library (BiCIKL) receives funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Action under grant agreement No 101007492.