Workflows and Digital Libraries
Making a workflow part of the research record is a way of capturing the methods used in a piece of research – it makes it easier to interpret the results, and helps repeat and reproduce it. Sharing workflows is also a powerful way of sharing expertise, so that researchers can reuse and repurpose research techniques within and across domains. This is why it’s important to bring together workflows and digital libraries, which is the purpose of the the Wf4Ever project – together we have the basis for an important transformation in Scholarly Communication. And together we can tackle one very important challenge: the preservation of workflows.
The Wf4Ever approach
Repeatable, reproducible and repurposeable research isn’t just about capturing the workflow description, it also needs all the pieces around that such as the input and output data and execution records. Hence we are working with Research Objects – digital artefacts which bundle together all the components of a piece of executable research, including the provenance of data and methods. And we are taking a holistic view of the social life of these Research Objects, from recommendation through to repair.
Wf4Ever brings together the teams behind a major workflow system (Taverna), the largest open repository of scientific workflows (myExperiment), a leading digital library system (dLibra) and many successful projects in semantic e-Science – working closely with scientists in our two important exemplar areas: astronomy and genomics. The new components and services generated in Wf4Ever are being tested on myExperiment, ultimately bringing new functionality to the site. Please contact us if you are interested in helping with this research.
Wf4Ever aims to deliver methodologies, models, services, reference architecture and software components for adding preservation capabilities to repositories of scientific objects. The enhancement of myExperiment, with the help of volunteers from the myExperiment community, provides the case study. Wf4Ever functionality will be tested in myExperiment, including full Research Object support and new preservation and recommendation features. Here is a preliminary roadmap:
1. Support for referencing ROs in other systems and the associated metadata synchronisation.
2. Preservation, connecting to wf4ever components including integrity and authenticity, and surfacing this functionality in the myExperiment interface.
3. Improved support for workflow execution.
4. Recommendations, including use of workflow provenance.
5. Underpinning all of these will be a Wf4Ever notification system that integrates with the components and services.
See the project website on http://www.wf4ever-project.org/ for further information.