14th International Joint Conference on Knowledge Discovery, Knowledge Engineering and Knowledge Management (IC3K): how it was and who got the Best Paper Award?

In this post I would like to briefly elaborate on a truly insightful 14th International Joint Conference on Knowledge Discovery, Knowledge Engineering and Knowledge Management (IC3K), where I was honored to participate as a speaker, presenting our paper “Putting FAIR principles in the context of research information: FAIRness for CRIS and CRIS for FAIRness” (authors: Otmane Azeroual, Joachim Schopfel and Janne Polonen, and Anastasija Nikiforova), and as a chair of two absolutely amazing sessions, where live and fruitful discussions took place, which is a real indicator of the success of such! And spoiler, our paper was recognized as the Best Paper! (i.e., best paper award goes to… :))

IC3K consists of three subconferences, namely 14th International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Information Retrieval (KDIR), 14th International Conference on Knowledge Engineering and Ontology Development (KEOD), and 14th International Conference on Knowledge Management and Information Systems (KMIS), where the latter is the one, to which my paper has been accepted, and also won the Best Paper Award – I know, this is a repetition, but I am glad to receive it, same as the euroCRIS community is proud for us – read more here…!

Briefly about our study, with which we mostly wanted to urge a call for action in the area of CRIS and their FAIRness. Of course, this is all about the digitization, which take place in various domain, including but not limited to the research domain, where it refers to the increasing integration and analysis of research information as part of the research data management process. However, it is not clear whether this research information is actually used and, more importantly, whether this information and data are of sufficient quality, and value and knowledge could be extracted from them. It is considered that FAIR principles (Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, Reusability) represent a promising asset to achieve this. Since their publication (by one of the colleagues I work together in European Open Science Cloud), they have rapidly proliferated and have become part of both national and international research funding programs. A special feature of the FAIR principles is the emphasis on the legibility, readability, and understandability of data. At the same time, they pose a prerequisite for data and their reliability, trustworthiness, and quality. In this sense, the importance of applying FAIR principles to research information and respective systems such as Current Research Information Systems (CRIS, also known as RIS, RIMS), which is an underrepresented subject for research, is the subject of our study. What should be kept in mind is that the research information is not just research data, and research information management systems such as CRIS are not just repositories for research data. They are much more complex, alive, dynamic, interactive and multi-stakeholder objects. However, in the real-world they are not directly subject to the FAIR research data management guiding principles. Thus, supporting the call for the need for a ”one-stop-shop and register-once use-many approach”, we argue that CRIS is a key component of the research infrastructure landscape / ecosystem, directly targeted and enabled by operational application and the promotion of FAIR principles. We hypothesize that the improvement of FAIRness is a bidirectional process, where CRIS promotes FAIRness of data and infrastructures, and FAIR principles push further improvements to the underlying CRIS. All in all, three propositions on which we elaborate in our paper and invite  everyone representing this domain to think of, are:

1. research information management systems (CRIS) are helpful to assess the FAIRness of research data and data repositories;

2. research information management systems (CRIS) contribute to the FAIRness of other research infrastructure;

3. research information management systems (CRIS) can be improved through the application of the FAIR principles.

Here, we have raised a discussion on this topic showing that the improvement of FAIRness is a dual or bidirectional process, where CRIS promotes and contributes to the FAIRness of data and infrastructures, and FAIR principles push for further improvement in the underlying CRIS data model and format, positively affecting the sustainability of these systems and underlying artifacts. CRIS are beneficial for FAIR, and FAIR is beneficial for CRIS. Nevertheless, as pointed out by (Tatum and Brown, 2018), the impact of CRIS on FAIRness is mainly focused on the (1) findability (“F” in FAIR) through the use of persistent identifiers and (2) interoperability (“I” in FAIR) through standard metadata, while the impact on the other two principles, namely accessibility and reusability (“A” and “R” in FAIR) seems to be more indirect, related to and conditioned by metadata on licensing and access. Paraphrasing the statement that “FAIRness is necessary, but not sufficient for ‘open’” (Tatum and Brown, 2018), our conclusion is that “CRIS are necessary but not sufficient for FAIRness”.

This study differs significantly from what I typically talk about, but it was to contribute to it, thereby sharing the experience I gain in European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), and respective Task Force I am involved in – “FAIR metrics and data quality”. It also allowed me to provide some insights on what we are dealing with within this domain and how our activities contribute to the currently limited body of knowledge on this topic.

A bit about the sessions I chaired and topics raised within them, which were very diverse but equally relevant and interesting. I was kindly invited to chair two sessions, namely “Big Data and Analytics” and “Knowledge management Strategies and Implementations”, where the papers on the following topics were presented:

  • Decision Support for Production Control based on Machine Learning by Simulation-generated Data (Konstantin Muehlbauer, Lukas Rissmann, Sebastian Meissner, Landshut University of Applied Sciences, Germany);
  • Exploring the Test Driven Development of a Fraud Detection Application using the Google Cloud Platform (Daniel Staegemann, Matthias Volk, Maneendra Perera, Klaus Turowski, Otto-von-Guericke University Magdeburg, Germany) – this paper was also recognized as the best student paper;
  • Decision Making with Clustered Majority Judgment (Emanuele D’ajello , Davide Formica, Elio Masciari, Gaia Mattia, Arianna Anniciello, Cristina Moscariello, Stefano Quintarelli, Davide Zaccarella, University of Napoli Federico II, Copernicani, Milano, Italy.
  • Virtual Reality (VR) Technology Integration in the Training Environment Leads to Behaviour Change (Amy Rosellini, University of North Texas, USA)
  • Innovation in Boutique Hotels in Valletta, Malta: A Multi-level Investigation (Kristina, University of Malta, Malta)

And, of course, as is the case for each and every conference, the keynotes are panelists are those, who gather the highest number of attendees, which is obvious, considering the topic they elaborate on, as well as the topics they raise and discuss. IC3K is not an exception, and the conference started with a very insightful discussion on Current Data Security Regulations and the discussion on whether they Serve or rather Restrict the Application of the Tools and Techniques of AI. Each of three speakers, namely Catholijn Jonker, Bart Verheijen, and Giancarlo Guizzardi, presented their views considering the domain they represent. As a result, both were very different, but at the same time leading you to “I cannot agree more” feeling!

One of panelists – Catholijn Jonker (TU Delft) delivered then an absolutely exceptional keynote speech on Self-Reflective Hybrid Intelligence: Combining Human with Artificial Intelligence and Logic. Enjoyed not only the content, but also the style, where the propositions are critically elaborated on, pointing out that they are not indented to serve as a silver bullet, and the scope, as well as side-effects should be determined and considered. Truly insightful and, I would say, inspiring talk.

All in all, thank you, organizers – INSTICC (Institute for Systems and Technologies of Information, Control and Communication), for bringing us together!

ICEGOV2022: 4 insightful days and four roles – participant / attendee, author / presenter, workshop chair and Best Paper Awards nominee (part 1)

This October (2022) I had a pleasure and honor to spend four absolutely insightful days at ICEGOV2022 conference – 15th International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance, which took place in a very specific place – Guimarães that is considered the birthplace of Portugal. The conference took place under the “Digital Governance for Social, Economic, and Environmental Prosperity” moto and was organized by organized by the University of Minho (Universidade do Minho) and UNU-eGOV – United Nations University.

Just to start, the conference was indeed something very special starting with the very first seconds since the conference was opened by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres. 6 exceptional keynote talks were delivered during 3 days of the conference, while the last day was fully dedicated to workshops, which were 7 – one of them organized by me and my colleagues, triggered by the study I presented at ICEGOV in 2021 (although only in a virtual / online mode).

All in all, this made it exceptionally honorable to play not one, not two or even three, but four roles. In other words, I was not only a regular participant / attendee or even just an author presenting the paper, but also a workshop chair and even a Best Paper Awards nominee.

Let me start with the reflection on the paper I presented here, since it is also very special for me, considering how it was developed. In other words, it was a joint paper we wrote together with my colleague Anneke Zuiderwijk as part of my 6-months long research visit to the University of Delft, Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management. Even more, it was the topic we discussed with many colleagues from TU Delft, when I was kindly invited to participate in an ICT colloquium, where we had an opportunity to talk about it (among other things such as my general research interests). Moreover, we got this paper accepted exactly at time, when my role of visiting researcher at Delft University of Technology was close to the end.

And before I will briefly elaborate on it, just to make you curious about it, let me mention that it was recognized as one of the best papers, which was nominated to ICEGOV2022 Best Paper Awards in its category. More precisely, it was in top-3 best papers among 61 papers! And although another paper got this award, we still consider it as a small victory! And citing the awards committee “the goal of ICEGOV Best Paper Awards is to acknowledge excellent research” isn’t that a win? ✌️✌️✌️

So… let me now provide a brief insight on the paper (finally). The paper itself is a reflection on the current ongoing research and is titled “Barriers to openly sharing government data: towards an open data-adapted innovation resistance theory”.

To say in a few words, the study itself aims to develop an Open Government Data-adapted Innovation Resistance Theory model to empirically identify predictors affecting public agencies’ resistance to openly sharing government data. Here we want to understand:
💡what are functional and behavioural factors that facilitate or hamper opening government data by public organizations?
💡does IRT provide a new and more complete insight compared to more traditional UTAUT and TAM? – IRT has not been applied in this domain, yet, so we are checking whether it should be considered, or rather those models we are familiar so much are the best ones?
💡and additionally – does the COVID-19 pandemic had an [obvious/significant] effect on the public agencies in terms of their readiness or resistance to openly share government data?
Based on a review of the literature on both IRT research and barriers associated with open data sharing by public agencies, we developed an initial version of the model, which was presented here at ICEGOV2022. Here I should immediately express my huge gratitude to the audience and very positive feedback I received after the session. At the same time, considering that many of these compliments came from people representing , TU Delft, I feel even more belongness to it, despite even have not been there physically during the above-mentioned stay (thanks to pandemic).

Taking a step back to the research – now, we plan to conduct exploratory interviews in multiple countries, preferably of different maturity levels (Estonia, Latvia, Netherlands, Italy (?), Belgium (?) – who else?), to refine the model. And once the model is refined, we will validate it to study the resistance of public authorities to openly sharing government data in a quantitative study.

📢📢📢 By the way, in case you are interested in this research and would like to get involved, we are now seeking for people who could conduct exploratory interviews in their countries, so in case you are such person, let us know even if your country is listed above – the interview protocol is already ready and we are about to start these interviews. The more countries will be involved, the more “universal” model we will be able to bring to this world!

In the meantime, find the paper (and cite as) -> Nikiforova A., Zuiderwijk A. (2022) Barriers to openly sharing government data: towards an open data-adapted innovation resistance theory, In 15th International Conference on Theory and Practice of Electronic Governance (ICEGOV 2022). Association for Computing Machinery, New York, NY, USA, 215–220, https://doi.org/10.1145/3560107.3560143

And just to close this post, and considering very positive impressions I had on them, let me at least list keynotes we had, since the organizers paid a very special attention to them, same as later – we as participants to their actual talks. All in all, ICEGOV2022 invited 6 keynotes we truly enjoyed – starting with the opening keynote delivered by Portuguese Secretary of State for Digitalisation and Administrative Modernisation Mário Campolargo, continuing with the following keynotes, which in many cases were later complemented with plenaries. These keynotes were very diverse in nature, more precisely – “Harnessing multilateralism for digital governance development?” by Cristina Duarte (Under-Secretary-General and Special Adviser on Africa to the United Nations Secretary-General), Digital transformation across countries and continents by Tony Shannon (Department of Public Expenditure & Reform, Dublin, Ireland), “AI+X: building a transformation agenda” by Theresa A. Pardo (University at Albany (SUNY)), “What is digital humanism?” by Walter Gehr (Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs), and “Reinforcing Interoperability Policy in the EU: Interoperable Europe” by Veronica Gaffey (European Commission (DG DIGIT)). Truly massive set of high-quality keynotes!

Thank you, of Guimarães, Portugal, and, of course, organizers of ICEGOV2022 – University of Minho (Universidade do Minho) and UNU-eGOV – United Nations University!

P.S. do not forget to read another post on the workshop I had at ICEGOV2022!

Editorial Board Member of Data & Policy (Cambridge University Press)

Since July 2022, I am elected by Syndicate of Cambridge University Press as an Editorial Board Member of the Cambridge University Journal Data & Policy. Data & Policy is a peer-reviewed, open access venue dedicated to the potential of data science to address important policy challenges. For more information about the goal and vision of the journal, read the Editorial Data & Policy: A new venue to study and explore policy–data interaction by Stefaan G. Verhulst, Zeynep Engin, and Jon Crowcroft. More precisely, I act as an Area Editor of “Focus on Data-driven Transformations in Policy and Governance” area (with a proud short name “Area 1“). This Area focuses on the high-level vision for philosophy, ideation, formulation and implementation of new approaches leading to paradigm shifts, innovation and efficiency gains in collective decision making processes. Topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Data-driven innovation in public, private and voluntary sector governance and policy-making at all levels (international; national and local): applications for real-time management, future planning, and rethinking/reframing governance and policy-making in the digital era;
  • Data and evidence-based policy-making;
  • Government-private sector-citizen interactions: data and digital power dynamics, asymmetry of information; democracy, public opinion and deliberation; citizen services;
  • Interactions between human, institutional and algorithmic decision-making processes, psychology and behaviour of decision-making;
  • Global policy-making: global existential debates on utilizing data-driven innovation with impact beyond individual institutions and states;
  • Socio-technical and cyber-physical systems, and their policy and governance implications.

The remaining areas represent more specifically the current applications, methodologies, strategies which underpin the broad aims of Data & Policy‘s vision: Area 2 “Data Technologies and Analytics for Policy and Governance“, Area 3 “Policy Frameworks, Governance and Management of Data-driven Innovations“, Area 4 “Ethics, Equity and Trust in Policy Data Interactions“, Area 5 “Algorithmic Governance“, Area 6 “Data to Tackle Global Issues and Dynamic Societal Threats“.

Editorial committees of Data & Policy (Area 1)

For the types of submission we are interested in, they are four:

  • Research articles that use rigorous methods that investigate how data science can inform or impact policy by, for example, improving situation analysis, predictions, public service design, and/or the legitimacy and/or effectiveness of policy making. Published research articles are typically reviewed by three peer reviewers: two assessing the academic or methodological rigour of the paper; and one providing an interdisciplinary or policy-specific perspective. (Approx 8,000 words in length).
  • Commentaries are shorter articles that discuss and/or problematize an issue relevant to the Data & Policy scope. Commentaries are typically reviewed by two peer reviewers. (Approx 4,000 words in length).
  • Translational articles are focused on the transfer of knowledge from research to practice and from practice to research. See our guide to writing translational papers. (Approx 6,000 words in length).
  • Replication studies examine previously published research, whether in Data & Policy or elsewhere, and report on an attempt to replicate findings.

Read more about Data & Policy and consider submitting your contribution!

Moreover, as a part of this journal, we (Data & Policy community) organize a hybrid physical-virtual format, with one-day, in-person conferences held in three regions: Asia (Hong Kong), America (Seattle) and Europe (Brussels). “Data for Policy: Ecosystems of innovation and virtual-physical interactions” conference I sincerely recommend you to consider and preferably to attend! While this is already the seventh edition of the conference, I take part in its organization for the first year, thus am especially excited and interested in its success!

Data for policy, Area Editors

In addition to its six established Standard Tracks, and reflecting its three-regions model this year, the Data for Policy 2022 conference highlights “Ecosystems of innovation and virtual-physical interactions” as its theme. Distinct geopolitical and virtual-physical ecosystems are emerging as everyday operations and important socio-economic decisions are increasingly outsourced to digital systems. For example, the US’s open market approach empowering multinational digital corporations contrasts with greater central government control in the Chinese digital ecosystem, and radically differs from Europe’s priority on individual rights, personal privacy and digital sovereignty. Other localised ecosystems are emerging around national priorities: India focuses on the domestic economy, and Russia prioritises public and national security. The Global South remains underrepresented in the global debate. The developmental trajectory for the different ecosystems will shape future governance models, democratic values, and the provision of citizen services. In an envisioned ‘metaverse’ future, boundaries between physical and virtual spaces will become even more blurred, further underlining the need to scrutinise and challenge the various systems of governance.

The Data for Policy conference series is the premier global forum for multiple disciplinary and cross-sector discussions around the theories, applications and implications of data science innovation in governance and the public sector. Its associated journal, Data & Policy, published by Cambridge University Press has quickly established itself as a major venue for publishing research in the field of data-policy interactions. Data for Policy is a non-profit initiative, registered as a community interest company in the UK, supported by sustainer partners Cambridge University Press, the Alan Turing Institute and the Office for National Statistics.

Read more about Data for Policy and become a part of it!

Research and Innovation Forum 2022: panel organizer, speaker, PC member, moderator and Best panel moderator award

As I wrote earlier, this year I was invited to organize my own panel session within the Research and Innovation Forum (Rii Forum). This invitation was a follow-up on several articles that I have recently published (article#1, article#2, article#3) and a Chapter to be published in “Big data & decision-making: how big data is relevant across fields and domains” (Emerald Studies in Politics and Technology) I was developing at that time. I was glad to accept this invitation, but I did not even think about how many roles I will act in Rii Forum and how many emotions I will experience. So, how was it?

First, what was my panel about? It was dedicated to data security entitled “Security of data storage facilities: is your database sufficiently protected?” being a part of the track called “ICT, safety, and security in the digital age: bringing the human factor back into the analysis“.

My own talk was titled “Data security as a top priority in the digital world: preserve data value by being proactive and thinking security first“, which makes it to be a part of the panel described above. In this talk I elaborated on the main idea of the panel, referring to an a study I recently conducted. In short, today, in the age of information and Industry 4.0, billions of data sources, including but not limited to interconnected devices (sensors, monitoring devices) forming Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) and the Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem, continuously generate, collect, process, and exchange data. With the rapid increase in the number of devices and information systems in use, the amount of data is increasing. Moreover, due to the digitization and variety of data being continuously produced and processed with a reference to Big Data, their value, is also growing. As a result, the risk of security breaches and data leaks. The value of data, however, is dependent on several factors, where data quality and data security that can affect the data quality if the data are accessed and corrupted, are the most vital. Data serve as the basis for decision-making, input for models, forecasts, simulations etc., which can be of high strategical and commercial / business value. This has become even more relevant in terms of COVID-19 pandemic, when in addition to affecting the health, lives, and lifestyle of billions of citizens globally, making it even more digitized, it has had a significant impact on business. This is especially the case because of challenges companies have faced in maintaining business continuity in this so-called “new normal”. However, in addition to those cybersecurity threats that are caused by changes directly related to the pandemic and its consequences, many previously known threats have become even more desirable targets for intruders, hackers. Every year millions of personal records become available online. Moreover, the popularity of IoTSE decreased a level of complexity of searching for connected devices on the internet and easy access even for novices due to the widespread popularity of step-by-step guides on how to use IoT search engine to find and gain access if insufficiently protected to webcams, routers, databases and other artifacts. A recent research demonstrated that weak data and database protection in particular is one of the key security threats. Various measures can be taken to address the issue. The aim of the study to which this presentation refers is to examine whether “traditional” vulnerability registries provide a sufficiently comprehensive view of DBMS security, or whether they should be intensively and dynamically inspected by DBMS holders by referring to Internet of Things Search Engines moving towards a sustainable and resilient digitized environment. The study brings attention to this problem and make you think about data security before looking for and introducing more advanced security and protection mechanisms, which, in the absence of the above, may bring no value.

Other presentations delivered during this session were “Information Security Risk Awareness Survey of non-governmental Organization in Saudi Arabia”, “Fake news and threats to IoT – the crucial aspects of cyberspace in the times of cyber war” and “Minecraft as a Tool to Enhance Engagement in Higher Education” – both were incredibly interesting, and all three talks were delivered by females, where only the moderator of the session was a male researcher, which he found to be very specific, given the topic and ICT orientation – not a very typical case 🙂 But, nevertheless, we managed to have a great session and a very lively and fruitful discussion, mostly around GDPR-related questions, which seems to be one of the hottest areas of discussion for people representing different ICT “subbranches”. The main question that we discussed was – is the GDPR more a supportive tool and a “great thing” or rather a “headache” that sometimes even interferes with development.

In addition, shortly before the start of the event, I was asked to become a moderator of the panel “Business in the era of pervasive digitalization“. Although, as you may know, this is not exactly in line with my area of expertise, it is in line with what I am interested in. This is not surprising, since both management, business, the economics are very closely connected and dependent on ICT. Moreover, they affect ICT, thereby pointing out the critical areas that we as IT-people need to refer to. All in all, we had a great session with excellent talks and lively discussion at the end of the session, where we discussed different session-related topics, shared our experience, thoughts etc. Although it was a brilliant experience, there is one thing that made it even better… A day later, a ceremony was held where the best contributions of the forum were announced and I was named the best panel moderator as a recognition of “the academic merit, quality of moderation, scheduling, and discussion held during the panel”!!!

These were wonderful three days of the forum with very positive emotions and so many roles – panel organizer, speaker / presenter, program committee member and panel moderator with the cherry on the cake and such a great end of the event. Thank you Research and Innovation Forum!!! Even being at home and participating online, you managed to give us an absolute amazing experience and even the feeling that we were all together in Athens!