TRIPLE: Behind the Scenes #1: Suzanne Dumouchel
This new series on the OPERAS blog features individual staff members from the TRIPLE project team, to give a face to the people behind the scenes. What is their role in the project, what is their background, and how did they get in touch with the Open Science movement?
The first team member we introduce to you is Suzanne Dumouchel, who works for Huma-Num, which is a French Very Large Research Infrastructure (“Très Grande Infrastructure de Recherche”, TGIR) with international reach devoted to the Social Sciences and Humanities.
Suzanne, what is your role in the TRIPLE project?
I’m the scientific coordinator of the TRIPLE project.
What exactly do you do as the scientific coordinator? What are your tasks and responsibilities?
It’s not so easy to explain. I’m in charge of the management of the consortium and of the development of the project as it has been contractualised with the European Commission. In my daily activities, I’m less involved in the project itself (I mean related to specific tasks) – which is a pity because it is the most interesting thing to do actually – but I’m mainly devoted to ensure a proper coordination between the partners, to check if the different tasks are well performed and linked to other tasks. So I need to keep an overview of the project without forgetting the smaller issues we might have and which can have a bigger impact later. But actually I’m very lucky as the partners are really strong and devoted to the project. We work as a team and we work well. As a coordinator, part of my job is also to develop connections with other projects or initiatives which might have an interest in TRIPLE or which TRIPLE can benefit from.
What is your background in terms of previous work experience and academic discipline, and which specific perspective(s) does that background contribute to TRIPLE?
I got a PhD in French literature and am invested in the Open Science movement, especially in the field of the social sciences and humanities (SSH). My main concerns are about how to highlight the impact of SSH research for societies; as I think there is a lot of impact, but it’s not visible enough. I try to contribute to the visibility through my role in the TRIPLE project and by coordinating OPERAS, a European Research Infrastructure devoted to SSH open scholarly communication.
Why do you think is SSH research so important for societies?
It’s quite obvious in my mind. All the technological and medical changes have been implemented thanks to deep changes in societies. Progress can be made only if society is ready for that. It’s quite well-known now that bigger evolutions come from the social sciences and humanities but the impact is quite long. I mean it can change the way we live, but often only 20 or 30 years after the publication of a book or an article. Human, social and societal changes need a lot of time to be done, which is less the case for technology. This is why impact is difficult to evaluate but definitely it is a big one.
What does an increased visibility imply? How can you ensure that researchers and citizens realise the impact of SSH research?
Increasing visibility of science is not an aim in itself. It is a way to show what is being done and to open the minds to say “yes, this is important”. But visibility not a purpose. It’s more the first step for citizens (and companies, public institutions and others) to understand how this kind of research (i.e. in SSH) can be useful for them and how it can help to solve current issues. So by increasing visibility, we expect to develop collaborations between science and civil society.
Do you remember when you first heard about Open Science? What made you get so passionate about the movement?
It was quite a long time ago actually. I came to Open Science from the Open Access movement, like the most of us I guess. At the beginning, I was quite young, I didn’t understand why it was quite revolutionary. Not because it wasn’t but because for me, it should have been the rule from the beginning. Research is financed through public funds so it’s normal that benefits and access to research can be free for everybody. Of course there are some issues related to copyright or business models of services for instance. But that means we have to find solutions to these issues and not to fight against this movement. Open Science means fewer and fewer boundaries between individual researchers and research groups and between researchers and societies, so this is definitely the way we should be doing research.
What are you currently working on in the TRIPLE project?
Currently I’m mainly involved in four different tasks: First, the creation of a forum to facilitate exchanges between researchers; second, thinking about the type of crowdfunding platform that is needed for TRIPLE and third, the preliminary work for the sustainability of the platform. Last but not least I’m involved in the building of the EOSC (European Open Science Cloud) as I contribute to two working groups (“Architecture” and “Skills and Training”), and I’m working to establish links between TRIPLE project and the work done to develop the EOSC, which is not an easy task.
How has the pandemic changed your working routines in the TRIPLE project?
We expected to have a face-to-face meeting in June with the whole consortium, but the pandemic obliged us to cancel. Other than that, I have to admit that it hasn’t changed a lot our work within TRIPLE. Deadlines are met and our meetings are still very regular. However, we can say that most of the time, at the beginning of the meetings, we share some news about our situation in our country. We include more personal discussions and have reinforced the links between us. Maybe I can add as well that I invest less effort in the way I do the meetings, e.g. it doesn’t matter if I’m outside or with my daughter next to me or or if my hair doesn’t looks perfect ;).
Suzanne, many thanks for the interview!