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Reflections from Scientific Data’s Japan roadshow

Last month Scientific Data was all about Japan, with the Research Data Alliance (RDA) Seventh Plenary Meeting in Tokyo, and the Scientific Data Japan Roadshow stopping off in Yokohama, Mishima, Fukuoka, Tokyo, Kyoto, Kobe and Tsukuba.

Photo by Chizuko Kobayashi

The RDA Plenaries have always been a great opportunity to progress collaborations on research data sharing and publication with other professionals in this space, and this plenary was no exception. However, as the RDA is increasingly attracting discipline specific researchers, the Tokyo plenary provided an excellent opportunity to discuss best practice in data sharing with the researchers leading in their respective disciplines with regard to research data management (RDM) issues.

Researchers from all over the world have similar concerns about data sharing, with scooping, tenure and promotion being key worries.  However, in Japan openness starts from the top, with the Japanese government actively promoting an open science agenda. The Japan Government Cabinet Office for Open Science, is tasked by the Japanese Government Council for Science, Technology and Innovation to support and promote “open science in Japan to enhance the utility of publicly funded research, including research papers and research data”1. I was fortunate to have multiple opportunities to discuss global similarities and differences towards open science with members of the Expert Panel on Open Science from the Japan Government Cabinet Office for Open Science.

The Japanese government’s emphasis on data sharing (alongside open access to publicly funded research) synergizes with Scientific Data’s core aim of facilitating research data sharing and reuse. Scientific Data is highlighted by the Expert Panel in their report1 for its data peer-review process and provision of machine accessible metadata for each Data Descriptor.

The Japanese government’s funding for University Research Administrator (URA) roles, alongside existing librarian positions, facilitates implementation of the Japanese government’s open science agenda at key research institutes. Librarians and URAs are often PhD holders, whose tasks may include providing advice on where to publish research outputs, to designing and implementing an institution’s RDM system.  RDM systems are being put in place at Japanese institutions not only to facilitate the management of the long-tail of research data, but importantly also to provide mechanisms for auditing and tracking published research for reproducibility purposes.

The supportive and researcher-centric infrastructure being put in place by Japan’s government will go a long way to ameliorating researchers’ concerns about data sharing, and ensure that Japan benefits from the positive effects of openness in research.

I would like to thank the following for helping to organise and host the Scientific Data roadshow:

  • Dr Shuichi Iwata and Dr Yasuhiro Murayama at the WDS and CODATA Communities symposium
  • Dr Hideya Kawaji at RIKEN Yokohama campus
  • Dr Akihiko Nomizu, Dr Yasushi Hiromi and Dr Motoi Okamoto at the National Institute of Genetics and The Institute of Statistical Mathematics
  • Dr Hidemasa Bono and Dr Takeru Nakazato at the Database Centre for Life Sciences
  • Dr Wararu Mizunoya and Dr Shoko Sawano at Kyushu University
  • Ms Satoka Sugai at the University of Tokyo
  • Dr Shoji Kajita, Dr Eriko Amano and Ms Yoko Kobayashi at Kyoto University
  • Dr Shigehiro Kuraku at RIKEN Centre for Life Science Technologies and Ms Yayoi Kamogawa at RIKEN Centre for Developmental Biology
  • Ms Mikiko Tanifuji at the National Institute for Materials Science

Finally my personal thanks to Yoko Shintani (Open Research Marketing Manager, Nature Japan) who was instrumental in putting together this ambitious itinerary, and keeping the Scientific Data Roadshow on track!


Yoko and I at The University of Tokyo



  1. The Expert Panel on Open Science, based on Global Perspectives Cabinet office, Government of Japan Promoting Open Science in Japan (2015)



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