The Turing Way: Open Infrastructure proposal

Copying my proposal here to get some local discussion going - I think the whole Turing Way project, not just this particular topic, is likely of interest to our community!

There is an interest to branch our communities by developing a chapter for Open Infrastructures for research. This chapter would set the context and provide a vision for how to evaluate tools and platforms with a Turing Way perspective on reproducibility, ethical alternatives and collaboration in practice.

We should start by defining „open infrastructure“, e.g. as a term that encompasses a wide range of practices for providing and decentralising access to resources and knowledge that is essential to sustain online research and other forms of digital collaboration. The chapter should contrast cloud computing or infrastructure-as-a-service with under-the-desk hardware, address some of the risks of bringing your own device to reproducibility, provide some tips about negotiating and partnering with the IT departments of your institute or institution, and most importantly explain how to properly evaluate and document the infrastructure of a scientific effort.


There have been a number of discussions of the term in this project already, notably in the context of Binder project, and most recently in a call with @aleesteele at a Frictionless Data meetup organised by @sapetti9.

Some relevant content already exists in the Guide for Reproducible Research (where this chapter would seem to most likely fit), the Guide for Collaboration (notably in the coverage of GitHub as an open platform, and shared ownership of open source projects), and Research Infrastructure Roles (mentioning the architectural and engineering work involved).

Working across various levels of abstraction - from programming languages and package landscapes of R, Python, Julia, to standards focused groups like the ones behind Data Packages - to more specific projects like Jupyter, Livemark or Docker, we can appreciate how critical guidance on solid principles of infrastructure (software / hardware / cloud) can be to open research projects and open data publication. Let us start a Discussion, schedule a call, and go from there.


Who can help?

  • @loleg - software engineering background with some science lab support experience, plus I know a few things about what it takes to write a good handbook - this would be my first contribution to the Turing Way, and I would be happy to spend a bit of time to brainstorm, research and collaborate on this with you folks here;