The Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) funds research projects aimed at improving agricultural productivity, sustainability, and resilience in developing countries.
ACIAR recognizes the importance of data management and the need for research programs to adopt the FAIR data principles, which ensure that research outputs meet principles of findability, accessibility, interoperability and reusability.
In 2021, ACIAR funded a Small Research Activity (SRA) to assess data management and FAIR data implementation across its research portfolio. The SRA evaluated data management practices in ACIAR-funded research projects and identified challenges and opportunities for improving these practices.
Need to implement FAIR practices
The SRA found that while some projects were already implementing good data management practices, there was a need for a strategy to implement FAIR practices across the portfolio.
As a follow-up to the SRA, ACIAR awarded CABI a follow up contract to develop a FAIR data strategy for the Soil and Land Management (SLAM) program, a key research program under ACIAR.
The goal of the contract is to ensure that the data produced by the program is effectively managed, shared, and reused, following the FAIR data principles. The SLAM research portfolio is complex and operates in diverse contexts, including cultural, policy, regulatory, capacity, and infrastructure issues.
CABI will engage with ACIAR, Commissioned Organizations, and partners in the countries where the program operates, to ensure that the FAIR data strategy can effectively address these challenges and meet the long-term strategic objectives of the program.
High-level strategy required
Arun Jadhav, CABI’s Manager– Digital Development, who is the project manager for this contract, said, “During our initial engagement with ACIAR, we discovered that ACIAR’s Project Partners were struggling to comprehend the significance of the high-value data assets generated through ACIAR’s funding.
“It was evident that a co-developed high-level strategy was required, which could help the Project Partners understand ACIAR’s expectations and needs.
“In our subsequent engagement, we will be assisting ACIAR specifically for their SLAM program to devise a FAIR strategy that would be both relevant and simple to understand by their project teams within their project implementation.”
To ensure the FAIR data strategy is effective, CABI will work in collaboration with stakeholders and partners and will follow an iterative approach to ensure that the strategy is well-received and able to achieve its objectives.
In addition, CABI will engage with pipeline SLAM projects to facilitate the design of a data management plan aligned with the SLAM FAIR Data Strategy in the Full Project Proposal documents.
CABI will also undertake a basic assessment of the capacity of the project teams and support them to develop a stretch target for them to achieve in the delivery of the projects.
The final deliverables of the contract include an ACIAR Soil and Land Management Data Strategy and implementation plan, a presentation to ACIAR on the Soil and Land Management FAIR Data Strategy, and a final report on the process and support provided to pipeline SLAM projects in the development of data management plans.
The report will also provide recommendations on potential methods and resources that ACIAR could utilize to effectively support project teams and partners to develop and implement data management strategies.
Mr Jadhav added, “The development of a FAIR Data Strategy for the Soil and Land Management program is an essential step in ensuring that the data produced by the program is effectively managed, shared, and reused.
“CABI’s engagement with ACIAR, Commissioned Organizations, and partners in the countries where the program operates will ensure that the strategy is effective in addressing the challenges posed by the SLAM research portfolio and diverse contexts.
“Additionally, CABI’s support for the implementation of the strategy in pipeline projects will set a precedent for future projects to follow, ensuring the long-term sustainability of the program’s data management practices.”
Main image: Researchers in Papua New Guinea inspect the base of a canarium tree as part of ACIAR supported research to enhance private sector-led development of the country’s Galip nut industry (Image: ACIAR/Conor Ashleigh).
For more information, visit the project page ‘Assessment of FAIR data principles across the ACIAR research portfolio.’
An assessment of data management and FAIR data principles across the ACIAR research portfolio – Final Report
Read the report in full here: https://www.aciar.gov.au/publication/slam-2021-156-final-report
Relevant news story
See also the news story ‘CABI to lead assessment of data across ACIAR research portfolio.’
CABI’s expertise in digital development
Through the creation and application of digital technologies, CABI brings science-based agricultural knowledge to millions of smallholder farmers helping to increase their yields. Find out more here.