In the age of large scale brain initiatives and exciting new technologies for probing the brain, neuroscientists increasingly recognize that collaboration and cooperation through open sharing of data and tools will be critical for the next revolutions in understanding how the brain works.
But open sharing of data and tools can’t happen in the absence of standards and best practices (SBPs) that can be employed by tool builders and data producers to ensure that their outputs are FAIR: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable ( Wilkinson et al., 2016 ). Open SBPs are at the core of the “Interoperable” and “Reusable” goals of FAIR, because they ensure that data acquired by one laboratory can be used by another.
INCF provides a community platform for promoting and supporting efforts to move global neuroscience towards FAIR through the creation and, more importantly, the adoption of SBPs for how different types of data should be acquired, organized and published. Towards this end≤ INCF has adopted a formal procedure, based on those used by national and international standards bodies like the W3C , to allow the global neuroscience community to review and endorse SBPs for neuroscience. This procedure will help collate information on available SBPs, but also provide a mechanism whereby these SBP’s are formally evaluated to make sure they are able to be used, and meet the needs of the neuroscience community. It is not sufficient that an SBP exists; it must have supporting software, evidence of support by the community and implementations by groups outside of those that have created it. SBPs need not have been developed by INCF working groups to be considered.
Over the past year, the Standards and Best Practices Committee , under the umbrella of the INCF Council for Training, Science and Infrastructure , has been developing review criteria and an initial draft outlining governance for how SBPs will be nominated, reviewed and endorsed.
The SBP comprises representatives from INCF governing and associate nodes. The process calls for nominations of SBPs by the community , an internal review by the SBP according to the criteria, a 60 day period for open community discussion and finally a vote for endorsement by the SBP committee. Endorsed SBPs will be able to display the INCF endorsement logo, will be listed on the INCF website and incorporated into INCF training programs.
Our first call for community nominations went out in the spring of 2018 and we received several recommendations from the INCF community for SBPs to be considered. The SBP committee selected BIDS (Brain Imaging Data Structure) as the first SBP to go through the process in order to test and refine the process.
The INCF is committed to operating in an open and transparent manner. We hope that you all participate in this important endeavor and and welcome any feedback on the work to date or where we should go in the future: email us at firstname.lastname@example.org .