A new EPFL fund rewards nine open science ideas

Une représentation partielle du réseau internet. © Creative commons

Une représentation partielle du réseau internet. © Creative commons

The first call for proposal for the EPFL Open Science Fund attracted nearly 50 propositions. Nine projects were selected and will receive support to develop ideas fostering open and reproducible research on campus, and beyond.

In September 2018, EPFL President Martin Vetterli announced the creation of the Open Science Fund to support the best ideas from everyone on campus with a total of CHF 3 Mio over the period 2019-2021.

Nearly 50 applications were submitted to the first call for proposals opened between mid-September and mid-December 2018. After careful evaluation, nine projects were selected by the members of the open science strategic committee, joined for the occasion by representatives of the various faculties. You can find a short description of the laureate ideas below.

A fund to support open science on campus

Over the past few years, the open science movement has gained momentum and today regroups a multitude of initiatives all aiming at lowering the barriers to knowledge creation and dissemination. One important aspect of the movement is the realization that the digital revolution impacts academia as much as the rest of society and requires changes in the way research is conducted and shared. New tools and best practices in data management and research documentation need to be explored with the aim to make results more robust, reproducible, accessible and reusable.

One of the missions of EPFL is to perform world-class research and disseminate the discoveries and technologies as broadly as possible to maximize their impact on the work of others, and on society at large. It is therefore important that everyone on campus continuously experiments in the way they produce and share research outputs of all possible forms: scholarly publications, data files of all kinds, the associated metadata, software and hardware, experimental setups, methods and instruments, etc.

Open science at EPFL: a new web page and upcoming events

The Open Science Fund is one example of the concrete steps taken by the Direction to explore the potential and challenges of open science. A new dedicated web page is now online and provides visitors with useful information and related services, including news and events. The highlight of 2019 will of course be the Open Science Day organized on 18 October as part of EPFL 50th anniversary celebration. Save the date in your agenda now! Confirmed speakers include Sir Philip Campbell, Editor-in-Chief of Springer Nature, Fabiola Gianotti, CERN Director-General and José Moura, IEEE President Elect

9 Ideas that will make EPFL research more open
Promoting Open Benchmarks in Logic Synthesis – Benchmarks allow reproducing and comparing performance between different technologies. The collection of such open software libraries and benchmarks developed by the Integrated Systems Laboratory for the field of logic synthesis has received positive feedback from both academia and industry. But open is not enough. This project will focus on building up an active community to sustain the tools and promote their adoption in the research community.
Evaluating the Quality of Science News Articles – In an age of fake news and mistrust towards experts, weeding out misreporting of scientific studies is important. The Distributed Information Systems Laboratory will develop SciLens, a platform that automatically generates indicators using weakly supervised learning, effectively helping non-experts to evaluate more accurately the quality of a science news article.
Open Software Services for Education and Research – This joint project between NCCR MARVEL and Centre Européen de Calcul Atomique et Moléculaire (CECAM) will build an open and collaborative online hub to host existing simulation and data-analysis tools, effectively creating an open science environment offering software tools as easy-to-use services, with minimal-to-zero setup time.
Broadening the Scope of an Existing ELN – Choosing a laboratory information management system (LIMS) or an electronic laboratory notebook (ELN) can be difficult. The many options available all have their pros and cons, and are not all suited for all research disciplines. Building on an existing open source tool, this project led by the POWERLab will develop a web solution adapted to the needs of the physical sciences, allowing users to adopt important open science best practices.
Open Science Using Proprietary Data – “I want to make my research open, but the data I use was obtained from a commercial data provider.” The apparent paradox between maintaining property rights AND facilitating replication and verification by others is not insoluble. To address this problem, a team at the Chair of Technology and Innovation Strategy will develop an encryption method to facilitate replication studies from proprietary datasets.
Open Hardware workshops – The web plays a major role in the adoption of open science best practice. But how can research outputs that cannot be shared as digital artefacts be made openly available? Starting with a cutting-edge structured illumination microscopy (SIM) developed in the Laboratory for Bio- and Nano-Instrumentation, this project will build and share a framework – including IP guidelines – to facilitate the dissemination of state-of-the-art research instruments.
Open Access to the Montreux Jazz Archive – This dataset is invaluable for researchers in acoustics, signal processing and musicology, amongst other disciplines. Unfortunately, it cannot be made available due to copyright restrictions. This collaboration between the MetaMedia Center and the Digital and Cognitive Musicology Laboratory will build a secure computation platform allowing anyone to perform open and reproducible research on the archive without touching it.
NanoFab.net – With one of the largest academic facility for micro- and nano-fabrication in the world, EPFL is well positioned to set some standards in the way information about processes is shared between researchers. This project initiated by the Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements will design, build and promote a knowledgebase to facilitate the exchange of best practice between users, covering both success and failures.
Opening up hyperspectral TEM – Transmission electron microscopes (TEM) are widely used research tools that currently generate data and metadata in proprietary and undocumented formats, make it difficult to share results openly. With this project, Cécile Hébert from the Electron Spectrometry and Microscopy Laboratory will create a suitable open standard and metadata scheme for TEM with the help of researchers and manufacturers. The goal is also to develop open tools for reading, converting and manipulating TEM data.

Author: Luc Henry
Source: Mediacom