What can researchers do to contribute to research infrastructures?
The relationship between research infrastructures and researchers is a symbiotic one. While individual researchers reap the benefits from being part of a research infrastructure, research infrastructures themselves exist only by the grace of the researchers – their user base. Therefore, one of the most important factors proving the legitimacy and impact of a research infrastructure, is its active user base. Even if the content and services a research infrastructure has to offer are of the highest quality, the amount of users and nature of usage determines the impact of a research infrastructure.
The experiences of users offer many opportunities for managers of research infrastructures and developers for further improvement of the research infrastructure. They can indicate which tools work well and which don’t, they show which data helps in their research, and help identifying blind spots.
Apart from using existing features and information (e.g. services and data) of a research infrastructure, researchers can also actively contribute to them. These contributions can be made in numerous ways, from providing data to mouth-to-mouth-propaganda, as well as co-organising workshops with research infrastructures.
As also research infrastructures increasingly have to prove their impact (see the subsection on Impact in the Module on Management Challenges), it is important to provide them with evidence to do so. After all, if something was helpful for your research, why not tell the whole world about it?
The topic of data citation and software citation and how to include references to research infrastructures is quite new with several challenges to overcome as the current citation system was created for papers, articles, and books. There are several initiatives dedicated to this topic including members from research infrastructures. A prominent international initiative is for example the FORCE11 Software Citation Implementation Group.
To find out what some experts of research infrastructures think about giving credits, watch the following videos.