Connecting with our community

Responding to the announcement of a global pandemic, in March we made the decision to close our Amsterdam office. It was followed soon after by news that we would also cancel our much-anticipated National eScience Symposium. Plans are underway to run the event in 2022. However, as we observed in the broader culture, the eScience Center team too was incredibly resilient. COVID-19 or not, we still undertook an admirable programme of online events and activities, some of which are highlighted below.

From 20-24 January, the Netherlands eScience Center held a workshop on Machine Learning for Research at its offices at Amsterdam Science Park. During the workshop, which took place in a collaborative workspace, six teams from different disciplines and research institutions spent a week doing hands-on work with machine learning experts from the eScience Center. Each team came equipped with their own data and went on to an intensive one-week collaboration with machine-learning experts from the eScience Center, in collaboration with SURF, to explore the best machine learning strategy to tackle their research question.

In September, the eScience Center was formally invited to join the Advisory Group (Adviesraad) of the National Programme Open Science. Together with partners such as ZonMW, the National Library, DANS and SURF, the eScience Center contributes its expertise to modernize and strengthen open science policies on a national level. In 2020, the Center also participated in the sounding board "European Open Science Cloud," coordinated by the Ministries OCW and EZK. In this month we also joined the International Research Software Alliance.

In October, for SORSE, an international series of workshops around research software engineering, we provided we provided an opportunity to Research Software Engineers (RSE) to develop their skills, create new collaborations and engage with RSEs worldwide. This workshop looked at what we do and don’t know about RSEs. Participants worked together to collect and classify existing empirical research about RSEs, and identify ‘blind spots’ where further research is needed.

In November, we hosted an online CodeRefinery workshop to teach software best practices, and tools and skills to efficiently develop and maintain research software. The key objective of the workshop was to grow researchers’ software best practices skills, to facilitate open and reproducible research. The workshop focused on methods to build modular, reusable, maintainable, sustainable, reproducible, testable, and robust software.

In December, we held a virtual work conference on Text Mining in Psychotherapy and (e)health Research to get acquainted with the possibilities of text mining research, and extend research using Sentiment analysis and LIWC (Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count). Participants also gained hands-on experience with the upgraded Open Source Text Mining platform, Orange, together with modules we developed specifically for TM research in psychotherapy and health related research (e.g. anonymization tools to work with sensitive patient data, visualization tools). The event helped participants build their network and explore the possibilities of collaboration both in the Netherlands and internationally.