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Reports of the CODATA Representative

  • To: epc@iucr.org
  • Subject: Reports of the CODATA Representative
  • From: Brian McMahon <bm@iucr.org>
  • Date: Mon, 11 Apr 2005 11:43:57 +0100
I shall shortly submit to the Executive Secretary the Report for 2004 and the
Triennial Report 2002-2005 of the IUCr Representative to CODATA, as included
below. Any comments on these reports are welcome. If I hear nothing, I'll
submit them as they stand at the beginning of next week.


IUCr 2004 Report - ICSU Committee on Data for Science and Technology

The major event for CODATA during 2004 was the biennial conference and
General Assembly held in Berlin, Germany, between 7 and 12 November.

CODATA Conference
CODATA 2004 was billed as the first major interdisciplinary conference
addressing new horizons for science in the information society, and the
organisers believed that it achieved that goal.  There were 260
participants from 28 countries, and activities of most of the scientific
unions were represented.  Participation of representatives from ICSU,
UNESCO, IIASA and the African Academy of Languages was taken as evidence
of the growth of interest in CODATA.

Presentations of interest to the IUCr were delivered in the keynote
lectures on open access to knowledge in the sciences and humanities, 
chemical informatics, biodiversity taxonomy projects and the human genome
sequence; and in the meeting sessions on
  * Data and Society
  * Mark-up Languages
  * Data Archiving
  * Open Scientific Communications/Publication and Citation of Scientific Data
  * Data Quality
A full meeting report is available at http://www.iucr.org/iucr-top/data/docs/.

General Assembly
The first session of the 24th General Assembly was an Open Session, in
which members of other bodies within the ICSU family were invited to give
descriptions of their work. Presentations were made by ICSTI
(International Council for Scientific and Technical Information) and
INASP (International Network for the Availability of Scientific
Publications); and from groups responsible for the CODATA/ICSTI portal on
archiving information and the Electronic Geophysical Year.

The Deputy Executive Director of ICSU and the Chair of the ICSU Priority
Area Assessment (PAA) Panel on Scientific Data and Information presented
the PAA report, a comprehensive review of major issues in the
management of scientific data and scientific literature. The report
identified shortcomings in the way that the scientific community
currently manages data and information, and proposed measures to ensure
the healthy future management of data and information.  It recommended
that ICSU assume a leadership role in tackling critical policy and
management issues, in collaboration with its daughter and affiliate
organizations, among them CODATA.

CODATA commissioned a response to the report from an internal committee
(K. Lal, Executive Board, CODATA; R. Norris, Representative, IAU;
B. McMahon, Representative, IUCr). The committee made several
recommendations, including the publication of a mission statement,
development of a strategic plan of action and a number of areas of
interest and concern upon which the strategic plan should be
based. These recommendations were endorsed by the General Assembly and
procedures initiated to address the recommendations and establish a clear
long-term strategy for CODATA activities.

The 2004 CODATA Prize was awarded to Jean Bonnin, Professor of Solid
Earth Geophysics at Institut de Physique du Globe, Louis Pasteur
University, Strasbourg, France.

The Canadian National Committee had established the Sangster Award for
graduate students as a specific response to the discussions in the 23rd
General Assembly regarding recognition of young scientists' work. A motion
was passed encouraging the National, Regional and Associate Members of
CODATA to consider establishing similar awards within their own domains.

The General Assembly also passed motions supporting training exchange
programmes, thanking the Founding Editor of the Data Science Journal,
endorsing the Electronic Geophysical Year, and approving the CODATA/ICSTI
archiving portal. There was also a motion to send letters of support to
National Members of CODATA who were experiencing difficulties in raising
the necessary CODATA membership dues.

Beyond the administrative affairs of CODATA, the main function of the
General Assembly is the appointment or re-confirmation of Task Groups
or Working Groups charged with furthering the objectives of CODATA.
The Task Groups approved by the 24th General Assembly for
the period 2004-2006 are as follows (those marked with an asterisk are
continuations of existing Task Groups):

 - Fundamental Constants *
 - Preservation and Archiving of Scientific and Technical Data *
 - Natural Gas Hydrates *
 - Biological Collection Data Access *
 - Global Species Data Networks *
 - Low-Dimensional Materials and Technologies Data Network
 - Data Sources in Asian-Oceanic Countries *
 - Anthropometric Data and Engineering
 - Virtual Laboratories in Earth, Physics and Environmental Sciences
 - Data, Information and Visualisation *

Georgia was welcomed as a new National Member of CODATA, and the Republic
of Ireland also wished to become a Member.

The Officers of CODATA through the next General Assembly (2006) are:
President - S. Iwata (Japan); Vice-Presidents - A. Gvishiani (Russia)
and K. Lal (India); Secretary General - R. Chen (USA); Treasurer - J.-J.
Royer (France). Other members of the Executive Board are listed on the
CODATA web site www.codata.org.

World Summit on the Information Society
CODATA was actively involved in the first phase of the World Summit on
the Information Society held in Geneva in December 2003. The majority of
recommendations from the agenda for action ("Science in the Information
Society") developed with UNESCO were incorporated in the formal Summit
Plan of Action. CODATA considers this a success in bringing the concerns
of science to the attention of the 172 governments involved in this

Preparations have begun for the second phase of the summit, to be held
in Tunis in November 2005. There was an opportunity for involvement by
CODATA members and other interested scientists through a one-day workshop
held during the CODATA 2004 conference. At this workshop, there were
reports of the initiatives within the scientific community arising from
the agenda for action, and a round-table discussion of remaining problems
and areas of concern. A report of this workshop is included at the same
URL as above,  http://www.iucr.org/iucr-top/data/docs/.

Other activities
The CODATA/ICSTI Prototype Portal on Permanent Access to
Scientific Data and Information was launched at the General Assembly.
It promises to be an invaluable resource in bringing together relevant
intitiatives in the archiving of scientific publications and data sets.

CODATA and the auditing/consultancy firm KPMG were successful in a bid to
review the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF); the review
will be carried out by a six-member panel between May 2004 and mid-2005.

CODATA sponsored over a dozen meetings during 2003/4, including the
CODATA/ERPANET Workshop on the Selection, Appraisal and Retention of
Digital Scientific Data (Portugal, December 2003), the Inter-American
Workshop on Access to Environmental Data (Brazil, April 2004) and the
Workshop on Strategies for Preservation and Open Access to Digital
Scientific Data in China (China, June 2004).

B. McMahon, IUCr Representative.

IUCr 2002-2005 Report - ICSU Committee on Data for Science and Technology

CODATA is the interdisciplinary Committee on Data for Science and Technology
of the International Council for Science (ICSU). It is currently a worldwide 
network of 23 national data committees, 15 international scientific unions,
4 co-opted delegates, and 20 supporting organizations from industry,
government and academia which define and lead its scientific programme. It
is concerned with collection, management, manipulation, access to and
exploitation of quantitative data in science and technology. Specific
projects are addressed by Task Groups answerable to the CODATA General
Assembly, by Working Groups, by themed workshops or conferences, and by
publications on specific aspects of data handling or data compilation,
including conference proceedings.

The major activities of CODATA in the past triennium were as follows.

Biennial conferences were held in Montreal, Canada, September/October
2002, and in Berlin, Germany, November 2004. The Montreal meeting was
entitled "Frontiers of Scientific and Technical Data", and the Berlin
meeting was entitled "The Information Society: New Horizons for
Science". Both were very well attended and offered rich overviews of new
technologies in data science, interoperability initiatives, scientific
data for economic development, data access and preservation, intellectual
property rights concerns, and the increasingly important role of
scientific data within the broader concerns of society. The IUCr
representative presented a paper on the handling of crystallographic
data at the Montreal meeting. Full meeting reports are available at the
URL http://www.iucr.org/iucr-top/data/docs/.

CODATA has been heavily involved in preparations for the intergovernmental
World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS). Phase One of WSIS
culminated in a Summit at Geneva in December 2003. CODATA developed
with UNESCO an Agenda for Action which was largely incorporated into the
formal Summit Plan for Action. CODATA was also a co-organizer of the
pre-Summit scientific conference in Geneva on the Role of Science in the
Information Society. In preparation for the Second Phase of the WSIS
in Tunis in November 2005, CODATA hosted a one-day Workshop during the
CODATA 2004 meeting at which further areas of concern were identified.
This is also reported in detail at http://www.iucr.org/iucr-top/data/docs/.

CODATA's relationship with ICSU, and its strategic role in managing
international and interdisciplinary intitiatives in scientific data
management, were scrutinised by the ICSU Priority Area Assessment
panel on data and information. A CODATA subcommittee welcomed the
ICSU review and encouraged CODATA to formulate a strategic plan
consonant with ICSU's vision of the management of scientific data
and information in the next decade. This initiative may strongly
influence the direction in which CODATA moves, and could result in
closer collaboration with the other members of the ICSU family of
organizations in formulating coherent long-range non-governmental
science policies.

CODATA retained active involvement with large-scale biodiversity and
taxonomy projects, such as the Global Biodiversity Information Facility
(GBIF); with Earth Sciences projects (including endorsement of the
forthcoming Electronic Geophysical Year, and coordination of worldwide
gas hydrates research); and with numerous scientific data initiatives
in the developing world. The valuable interdisciplinary Data Science
Journal continues as an open-access online publication.

The CODATA web site is at http://www.codata.org. 

B. McMahon, IUCr Representative.
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