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Monitoring Bulletin – May 2020

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France’s scientific profile. The annual edition featuring an overview of the current situation for the French higher education and research was published on May 26. China is known for chemistry, and France for mathematics, but physical and mechanical sciences are also at the forefront of French research with a specialization index of 1.74, compared to 0.87 for the United Kingdom and 0.91 for Germany. France’s best impact results are in geochemistry, astronomy and astrophysics.

More FAIR chemistry data. In an article published in Data Intelligence, chemical and bioinformatics researchers present the purpose of the Chemistry Implementation Network they have created. They aim to “support the needs of the research community” to enable the availability of chemistry data according to FAIR principles. Several priorities are identified: chemical identifiers, spectra, data visualization of reactions and chemical structures, file formats, and chemistry-specific vocabulary.

Material for the spring ACS meeting is available on line. The meeting was canceled due to the pandemic, but ACS features the material planned for presentations in their May bulletin. Topics include chemical data. For example: “Associating live analytical data to synthetic chemistry experiments: Applying FAIR principles across the scientific experimentation lifecycle” or “Curating ChemSpider: Challenges in chemical data management.

How are chemists faring in the current period? Researcher and head of the Chemistry department at the University of New York, James Canary tells about his experience of the current health crisis which has distanced chemists from the workbench. Specialists in computational chemistry are feeling less neglected, but he has observed a net increase in volunteers offering topics for publication or proposing their services for article reviewing. 

Physics lab work during lockdown. In an article published on, teachers explain how they have reviewed their teaching methods during lockdown. Both Université de Paris-Saclay and Université de Bordeaux have adapted with “lockdown experiments“, largely inspired by everyday life. For example, students were asked to measure the sound frequency of a guitar depending on the length of the string or to study the physical characteristics of a vinegar rocket.

Covid and research contracts. The French Society of Physics has co-signed an open letter addressed to parliamentarians to request that all higher education and research contracts be extended by at least 3 months .  

Student in solar physics use Python more than their teachers. That is the conclusion drawn by the SunPy project. Python is used by 66% of the researchers and students questioned, and the proportion continues to grow. Of this proportion, twice as many students use it than researchers, who use IDL. As for data storage, 29% only use a laptop or desktop computer. Authors recommend that the creation and distribution of open software be more recognized in the community. 

SFP mentoring program. The French Society of Physics (SFP) has launched its first mentoring program for PhD students and young researchers in condensed matter or plasma physics. The mentoring program proposes one year (renewable) of mentoring for a study project, or a professional project for more experienced researchers. The only condition is membership of the SFP.

A mathematician at the head of the RSC. Adrian Smith has just been named as chairman of RSC from November. A qualified mathematician, he taught statistics at the University of Nottingham.

Researchers: we want your opinion!

The Couperin Survey about research practices. As part of the renewal of the bibliometric and bibliographic tool markets, Couperin is undertaking wide consultation about researchers’ practices in research documentation. Which tools do they prefer to access whole articles or for monitoring? Which are the main competitors of Web of Science and Scopus? The survey is open until June 12.

UNESCO survey about open science. UNESCO has launched a survey in preparation of their recommendation about open science. The French version of the survey is available here. The survey is open until June 15. Help for completing the survey can be found on the site:


Data and assessing researchers: the CPU takes a stand. On line since May 14 , a summary developed by the CPU (university chairman conference) calls for recognition of “open-access data, or shared data, when assessing researchers. In other words, data with controlled distribution and explicit access conditions”. In the detailed version, the annex of the document, the reviewed criteria that the CNRS plans to use is listed. “Any type of production must be eligible for assessment”, the document says, including, “data contributing to a publication” and “data papers”. 

Higher Education and Research: more than one in two establishments plan to adopt a policy for data. Only 9 establishments out of 105 which responded to the question in the Couperin survey have a data management policy. 54% confirmed that their data policy is being developed. 

Assessment and research data. In their article dated May 5, (Igniting Change: Our Next Steps Towards Open Data Metrics), the “Make Data Count” team gave an overview of the objectives and progress for research into citing data. One of the goals is the adoption of standardized practices for data use and citation.

How much does data cost? It is a frequently recurring question for ANR and H2020 project leaders. The University of Delft proposes a tool for measuring data management costs. It calculates the share of full-time employment required and the value of generated data. An infographic by the Digital Curation Center and OpenAire estimates costs associated with depositing data on an on-line platform. For under 20 Go, the cost varies between €0 and €109. For more than 75 Go, it is between €245 and €340, and exceeds €900 for deposits of over 200 Go. Note: these figures are based on limited estimations featured in the infographic (University of Cambridge and Dryad warehouse).

Scientific Integrity and Covid-19. The French bureau for scientific integrity backs a paper published by the European network (ENRIO) deploring practices observed since the beginning of the health crisis. “Poorly designed studies have been published in specialized literature […] Bad practices distort our knowledge of COVID-19”, the organization regrets.  


Org-mode for documenting data. The Urfist in Bordeaux organized two training sessions on Org-mode on July 7 and 9, 2020. The first workshop is an introduction to markup language, and the second focuses on writing reproducible articles. We have already mentioned Org-mode in a previous article.

Data management plans. You have ANR funding but do you don’t know how to start your data-management plan: watch on-line training sessions organised by Inist. Three sessions are scheduled in the coming months. Register now! Limited places are only available for the October 15 webinar. The other dates are closed. In the meantime, contact the library for assistance.

How to choose the right data warehouse. Danielle Dennie, Research data librarian at University Concordia put a webinar on line on May 7 about how to choose a data warehouse for beginners.

ANR projects and open science: a guide for researchers. This document prepared by members of the Couperin data working group aims to clarify ANR’s expectations of open science in order to increase chances of success in calls for proposals. 

A new MOOC about open science. The MOOC entitled Open Science: Sharing Your Research with the World” proposed by the University of Delft began on May 6. Registration is still open for people wanting to take the course. The course is free unless you request a certificate. 


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