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Galaxy Europe has been added as a new ELIXIR RIR

usegalaxy.eu is now an ELIXIR Recommended Interoperability Resource!

logo RIR

With ELIXIR's announcement on new Core Data Resources (CDRs) and Recommended Interoperability Resources (RIRs) it becomes official today: beyond being listed as an ELIXIR service, Galaxy Europe receives the RIR badge.

With Galaxy Europe being one of seven newly awarded services, there are now 21 Recommended Interoperability Resources. Other well-known interoperability efforts being listed from now on are e.g. the Data Steward Wizard (DSW) and the FAIR Cookbook, but also services technically closely connected with usegalaxy.eu, like OpenEBench and RDMkit. They altogether are fostering ELIXIR's landscape of high-quality tools and standards.

For us, the process added another value: we generated a new page from the materials we created for the application - find 'Galaxy is Interoperable' for your reference.

ELIXIR RIR - what's that?

RIR as a quality label identifies those services which help making scientific research FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable). The precise definition reads like the following:

An ELIXIR Recommended Interoperability Resource (RIR) is an ELIXIR Service that, among other things, supports description, reporting, annotation, sustainability and provision of biological data. Through this, an RIR facilitates interoperability and (re-)usability of knowledge, thus supporting the FAIR Principles.

ELIXIR states that together with Core Data Resources (CDRs) and ELIXIR Deposition Databases (EDDs), RIRs form a well-respected set of trustworthy resources, which help raise resource visibility and provide guidance to users and organisations such as research journals and funders.

The call

In Spring this year the RIR call opened to those ELIXIR resources to which the following descriptions appear applicable:

  • Establishing connections between data (and other) resources
  • Acquiring and exposing metadata of data (and other) resources
  • Creating the infrastructure needed to build integratable data collections
  • Using interoperability resources to support delivery of FAIR principles

The application itself required to fill a case document collecting information on the following four sections:

  1. Resource facilitation to scientific research
  2. Community
  3. Quality of resource
  4. Legal framework, funding, and governance

Beyond, the evaluation by four reviewers included investigations on impact and translational stories, as well as scientific focus and quality of science. Per reviewer and section scores in a range 1-5 were applied, with five points indicating "Excellent, exceeds criteria for an RIR". Moreover, reviewers should highlight the strengths and weaknesses of a resource in each section and justify the score given. More on RIR selection criteria in this publication.

Some details from the evaluation report for Galaxy Europe

For section 1, describing Galaxy Europe's facilitation to scientific research, we mentioned the numerous projects from the ELIXIR and EOSC spaces and beyond, covering a growing number of scientific fields even beyond the life sciences. Moreover, we could refer to the (at that time) 70k registered users and a monthly growth of 1000 new registrations, as well as underline the broad community from all across Europe acting as the team behind usegalaxy.eu as a resource. The reviewers appeared fully convinced stating "a broad recognition in a diverse set of international communities", emphasizing the worldwide user base, interoperability with other services via APIs, the adoption by a number of European projects, but also that Galaxy Europe "serves both technical and non-technical audiences". Another highlight was the comment that "Documentation, instructions, use of standards are all on very good level."

Finally, this comment goes to all of you: "The resource is an excellent example of community effort."

Speaking of community, section 2 focussed on impact, usage, outreach and support. We could highlight training efforts (GTN, workshops, TIaaS) here, and got very positive feedback on numbers (11k citations of the Galaxy platform, EU user counts and job submissions). Furthermore, the level of activity ("providing users with detailed documentation as well as both peer-to-peer and specialist support") and connectivity ("connected to a global community hub and training network and interacts and collaborates with other resources") were acknowledged, as well as that "the resource has a clear development roadmap".

Dear trainers, please take into account the following statement: "The community of trainers and the training sessions conducted is also a testament to the usefulness of the resource."

Accordingly, section 3 addressing quality aspects revealed a positive reception of documentation, support, uptime and maintenance policies, all being of high quality. The availability of ELIXIR-AAI was recognized, and recently we fixed the login button mentioned to be outdated. "A plethora of training materials and documentation" being easily accessible was appreciated as well as "an open and active community providing support via various channels".

Finally, section 4 reviewed usegalaxy.eu's legal basis, funding, and governance. We could confirm that the GPDR option of the Galaxy platform is enabled at the European Galaxy Server. That "Funding comes from a diverse range of projects" was appreciated and valued as "additional sustainability assurance". It was concluded that "licence, privacy policy, roadmap, funding and governance structures are easily found". However, it was outlined that "Galaxy's governance framework proposal is still in draft stage".

The last point in fact led to one score point less - in turn, we can state that this was the only one we lost. This means that Galaxy Europe has been evaluated with 79 out of a maximum of 80 scoring points.

What's next?

ELIXIR RIRs are subject to regular review, and we all know that the landscape in computational sciences is constantly, often rapidly evolving. However, beyond our own perception, we have been evaluated as a well-maintained resource, driven by a strong community and being well-established also in a variety of scientific fields, exceeding ELIXIR's scope.

We are looking forward to deeper integrate with the other resources and further contributing to interoperability efforts in Europe and beyond. Thanks ELIXIR for honoring our work!