Royce Data Curators Launch Materials 4.0 projects with portfolio of new services for Materials Science researchers

Throughout March, the Royce Data Curation team launched a series of new services and events designed to provide support around new data-centric, digital approaches in research and innovation towards Materials 4.0. Accelerating the adoption of open research practices across the Institute’s partners. 

A challenge led approach

The measures form part of Royce’s commitment to Materials 4.0, which aims to radically advance the rate and responsiveness of materials innovation, increasing the impact it has on society and the economy.

One of the primary challenges identified in a series of roadmapping reports commissioned by Royce is the rate at which new materials are developed, recognising poor levels of data sharing between parties as a primary contributing factor.  Current working methods result in delays and failures due to a recurring need for individual organisations to generate experimental data that has already been generated by others, but is unavailable or difficult to access.

Increasingly, funding calls designed to support research projects are mandating open research policies as an essential criterion for eligibility, in a bid to bolster the transparency, openness, verification and reproducibility of research and innovation. For example, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and its councils published a new research data strategy in 2021 in response to the final report of the Open Research Data Taskforce (GOV.UK) to improve the public value, research integrity and re-use of collected data.

The newly launched services available through the Royce Data Curation team support the adoption of open research practices. The services offered to researchers working throughout the Royce partnership include the creation of materials data indexing systems, support for research data management and training events in digital skills complementary to reproducibility and conducting open research.

Royce’s decision to provide a devoted data curation resource for the projects it supports reflects the institute’s dedication to playing a leading and coordinating role in overseeing the development of data practices towards Materials 4.0. The measures are raising awareness of expected standards and behaviours and promoting wider systems changes for the benefit of the whole Materials Science community. Open research also helps to support collaboration within and across disciplines and is integral to a healthy research culture and environment.

Royce Chief Scientist Professor Philip Withers said:

“In order to meet global challenges such as moving to Net Zero by 2050 we need to rapidly accelerate the development and implementation of new materials systems and their manufacturing. Fully embracing the opportunities provided by materials 4.0 will be required and this requires not just new ways to store and exploit the data we measure but also a cultural change. I am pleased that the Royce is making a contributing on both fronts.”

Royce Open Research & Data Symposium

The Royce Open Research & Data Symposium served as the launch event for data curation services to the Royce community; partners and stakeholders. The event saw a range of speakers from RTOs, universities and industry at varying career levels characterise the landscape of data approaches being adopted by materials scientists.

Dr James Moffat (Moltex Energy) introduced Ampletracks; a web app designed to be integrated into a laboratory-based workflow and used for sample tracking and data management. Ampletracks was originally developed for the MIDAS Programme Grant and further developed with Royce support. Guidance on publishing open research data was delivered by Jack Brook from the Materials Open Research journal and detailed across other presentations from representatives of the Universities of Manchester and Sheffield.

Other sessions included a presentation from Scott Taylor (University of Manchester Office for Open Research) on the availability differing data repositories and the adoption of FAIR data in research. Sylvia Whittle (University of Sheffield) delivered a talk on developing research software through open practices, while James Bird, a PhD candidate from the University of Manchester, detailed his experience of working openly as a researcher and the use of electronic notebooks for laboratory work.

The Royce Data Curation team also hosted a range of training events open to materials science researchers including Introductions to Python and Data Analysis and Visualisation using Ecology Datasets. A regular Materials 4.0 webinar series hosted by the team will enhance understanding of data approaches used across the national advanced materials community.


Engaging with Royce Data Curators

The Royce Data Curation team are committed to expanding and improving open research practises across the Henry Royce Institute. Contact datacuration@royce.ac.uk to discuss the services offered, or to book a consultation.

Their services and individual contact details are listed on the Royce website and further information can be accessed through the team’s Data Management Handbook.

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