Neuroscience as an open, FAIR and citable discipline

Maryann Martone, Ph.D.

UC San Diego

ABSTRACT: The launch of several international large brain projects indicates that we are still far from understanding the brain at even a basic level, let alone being able to intervene meaningfully in most degenerative, psychiatric and traumatic brain disorders. Such projects reflect the idea that neuroscience needs to be placed on a more data-rich, computational footing to address the inherent complexity of the nervous system. But should we just be looking towards big science to produce comprehensive and integrated data and tools? What about the thousands of studies conducted by individual investigators and small teams, so called “long tail data"? How does the regular practice of neuroscience need to change to address grand challenges in brain science?

Across the breadth of academia, researchers are defining new modes of scholarship designed to take advantage of 21st century technology for linking and distributing information. Principles, best practices and tools for networked scholarship are emerging. Chief among these is the move towards open science, making the products of research as open as possible to ensure their broadest use. Second, increased recognition that research outputs should not only include journal articles and books, but data, tools and workflows. Third, that research outputs should be FAIR: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable-the characteristics required for making digital objects maximally useful for both humans and machines. FAIR encompasses the agreement upon and use of community standards for data exchange. Finally, that citation and credit systems be redesigned to reflect the broadening of scientific output.

In this presentation, I will discuss the community and technical infrastructure for moving neuroscience towards an open, FAIR and citable science, highlighting our experiences in building and maintaining the Neuroscience Information Framework and other related projects. I will also provide an example of work underway in the spinal cord Injury community to come together around the sharing and integration of long tail data.

ABOUT: Maryann Martone received her BA from Wellesley College in Biological Psychology and Ancient Greek and her Ph. D. in Neuroscience from the University of California, San Diego. She is a professor Emerita at UCSD, but still maintains an active laboratory and  currently serves as the Chair of the University of California Academic Senate Committee on Academic Computing and Communications.   She started her career as a neuroanatomist, specializing in light and electron microscopy, but her main research for the past 15 years focused on informatics for neuroscience, i.e., neuroinformatics.  She led the Neuroscience Information Framework (NIF), a national project to establish a uniform resource description framework for neuroscience, and the NIDDK Information Network (dknet), a portal for connecting researchers in digestive, kidney and metabolic disease to data, tools, and materials.  She just completed 5 years as Editor-in-Chief of Brain and Behavior, an open access journal, and has just launched a new journal as Editor in Chief, NeuroCommons, with BMC.  Dr. Martone is past President of FORCE11, an organization dedicated to advancing scholarly communication and e-scholarship.  She completed two years as the chair of the Council on Training, Science and Infrastructure for the International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility and is now the chair of the Governing Board.  Since retiring, she served as the Director of Biological Sciences for Hypothesis, a technology non-profit developing an open annotation layer for the web (2015-2018) and founded SciCrunch, a technology start up based on technologies developed by NIF and dkNET.