Open Science prize for Antica Culina's SPI-Birds project

Antica Culina
© Perro de Jong / NIOO-KNAW

Open Science prize for Antica Culina's SPI-Birds project


In a special online session, Antica Culina from NIOO's department of Animal Ecology has received an award for using Open Science to make research more accessible. The Open Science Use Case Awards are part of the National Open Science Festival, which has had to be rescheduled because of the corona situation.

A call for use cases was published earlier this year, inviting researchers and PhD students from Dutch universities, UMCs and research institutes to submit their projects. The call was looking specifically for use cases that explored challenges and difficulties, as well as positive experiences and successful outcomes.

The awards were due to be presented at the Dutch Open Science Festival in Wageningen in August. The festival has been postponed until next February, but in order to keep in touch with all interested in Open Science developments in the Netherlands, a series of five online sessions is being organised in the run-up to the new date.

SPI-Birds project

The first of these sessions, on 2 July, showcased the Use Case Awards. One of the five winners is the Studies of Populations of Individual Birds (SPI-Birds) Network and Database, set up by Antica Culina and Marcel Visser at NIOO. The network comprises researchers working on populations of breeding, individually marked birds, and the database lets users search for populations of birds across Eurasia and request data for these populations. 

"The idea of SPI-Birds was born when I spent a good one year trying to identify all of the studies that I could potentially use for my research project", explains Culina. "Why would others spend so much time trying to locate populations that are relevant to their work?"

Overcoming barriers

In her presentation, Culina listed the barriers she encountered at the start of the project: locating all populations (or as many as possible), and convincing data owners that their data would be safe and there was something to gain for them. "Once some ‘big’ groups gave us support, more and more other groups started to trust us", she says. "And once the project received enough support, the members themselves ‘snowballed’ the known populations."

Comments from the Programme Committee included: "The fact that this project took off as well as it did shows that there was a great need for collaboration” and: "The SPI-Birds use case shows a project in which data sharing has helped accelerate scientific discovery. It also shows that some individuals/groups are still reluctant to fully share their data."