INCF has implemented a formal procedure for evaluating and endorsing community standards and best practices that support the FAIR principles. Our mission is to make neuroscience more Open and FAIR, to ensure that research funds and efforts are well invested, and that neuroscientific findings are robust and replicable.
FAIR resources and processes need good community standards, but many neuroscience communities lack robust standards or have competing incompatible standards. The rapid development of new techniques also means that there is a continuous need for new and updated standards and that old standards need active developer and user communities to maintain, update, and implement them.
By endorsing standards, INCF wants to
- Make it easy to find the best, most reliable standard appropriate for your research
- Ensure recognition for community members investing their time and effort in standards
How is endorsement done?
The INCF endorsement process is open to any standard or best practice that is applicable to neuroscience research. Applications for endorsement can be submitted by developers, as well as members of user communities. Submissions are vetted by the INCF Standards and Best Practices Committee before being formally accepted into the endorsement process. The process has three steps; an expert review (criteria), a community review, and a final committee review which takes comments received during the expert and community reviews into consideration. At each phase of the endorsement process, submitters are expected to respond to comments and provide requested supporting materials.
INCF definition of a standard
A standard needs to have a clear specification that enables implementations according to and interoperable with the standard. In addition, a standard should have a reference implementation, however, importantly, the implementation is not the standard. Rather, the standard should be defined independently of an implementation. For that reason, software frameworks as such are not considered suitable for endorsement by INCF.
Vetting and endorsement process
The process is managed by the INCF standards and best practices committee.
The INCF endorsement process in detail:
In the INCF process for vetting and endorsing neuroscience community standards, anyone can submit an application for endorsement of a candidate standard. The submitter will be the official steward and contact person for the process.
The INCF Secretariat does an initial vetting of the submission to see if the submission should be handled as a standard or a best practice, and ensure that there is enough information (documentation and related publications) for the SBP committee to be able to discuss the submission productively.
After the vetting, the steward receives the review criteria questionnaire and responds to or coordinates the response to the questions.
The committee discusses the responses and assigns two expert reviewers (or declines the submission, if it is deemed unsuitable). The Secretariat sends the stewards’ responses to the assigned reviewers, and facilitates communication between the steward and the reviewers in case of questions. At the next committee meeting, the reviewers present their conclusions and recommendations to the rest of the committee. The committee discusses and jointly takes a decision on whether the candidate standard can be sent to community review as is, or if there are changes or more information needed.
When the committee is satisfied, a report is produced that has two parts: a summary of the committee’s discussion about the submission, and the final responses to all review questions. This report is published on F1000, and community members are invited to read the report and comment to express their support and give feedback or suggestions for improvements to the developers. The initial community review period is 60 days. It may be prolonged by another 30 days if the committee decides that more time is needed.
After the closing of the community review, the committee discusses the result of the community, to judge if there is enough community support to endorse the standard. If there are comments that need to be addressed before this decision can be taken, the Secretariat facilitates discussion between the commenter(s) and the steward until this is resolved.
If the standard is endorsed, it receives the “endorsed by INCF” badge and is displayed as an endorsed standard in the INCF Standards and Best Practices portfolio. Endorsed standards are reviewed for re-endorsement every second year.
If the committee judges that there is too little community support for an endorsement, INCF will work with the submitters to increase community support through public outreach events, such as the INCF Assembly, INCF Training Weeks, and community engagement events at scientific conferences.