For Love Data Week (12th-16th February 2018) we are featuring data-related people. Today we talk to Keren Limor-Waisberg , Founder and CEO of the Scientific Literacy Tool. Advocating for open access, citizen science and scientific literacy.
Telling Stories with Data
Let’s start with an easy one. What kind of data do you work with and what do you do with it?
I help people from all walks of life access, understand, and/or use scientific data and literature concerning their scientific topics of interest.
Tell us how you think you can use data to make a difference in your field.
A scientifically literate society is a society in which people are empowered with knowledge they can use to achieve their different goals. As we look at data and understand it, we acquire skills that are essential for both our personal and our societal development.
How do you talk about your data to someone outside of academia?
When I talk about data with someone outside academia, I will take the time to define any new terminology and make sure we understand each other.
What data-related challenges do you have to deal with in your research environment?
The main data-related challenge non-academics have is the access to data. Many datasets are simply not accessible to the public. Sadly, some datasets are not even available for other academics.
Once access is achieved, people will struggle with different formats, lack of metadata, different units and/or the lack of tools to process and analyse the data.
How do you think these challenges might be overcome?
The challenge of open data, making data accessible, is currently addressed by many countries. The European commission for communications networks, content and technology (CNECT), for example, are formulating directives that aim to open up and help reuse publicly funded research data in Europe.
Different organisations are now developing tools and packages that will help people work with datasets.
If you were in charge what data-related rule would you introduce?
As a citizen of the World, I advocate for open access, citizen science and scientific literacy so as to promote the understanding that knowledge empowers both individuals and societies to develop and prosper. To make this progress, I think we need to agree on common ethical guidelines – from the right of access to the right of use of publicly funded data.
We are Data
Tell us about your happiest data moment.
My happiest data moment was during my PhD. I calculated the performance of some viral elements using different tests. I had a lot of data and it took a while for the scripts to run. It was nerve-racking. I can still remember sitting there listening to the screeching sounds of the computer. And then one by one I got the results, and they all confirmed my hypothesis. It was great. It was a small piece of scientific knowledge, but I was the first person in the world to know about it.
What advice do you have for someone who is just embarking on a career in your field?
For someone embarking on a career in the field of promoting scientific literacy, I would recommend to be very patient. It is a slow process and there are many obstacles, but at the end it is a very rewarding profession.
What do you think the future of research data looks like?
I think that in the near future we will have much more publicly funded research data accessible. We will see more and more tools emerging to handle this data. More and more people will use this data and tools to make their statements, to dispute ideas, to create products and services, to entertain, or perhaps just to enjoy finding something new.
There is A LOT of data out there about all sorts of things and it is being collected all the time. Does anything frighten you about data?
I think it is important to make sure privacy and identities are protected when data is collected and shared.
Published 15 February 2018
Written by Keren Limor-Waisberg