Whole Tale enables New Discovery by Bringing ‘Life’ to Research Articles

Author: Kallie O'Connell

Whole Tale

Directions for a new piece of “some assembly required” furniture are only useful if the user has the parts listed in the instruction manual. That makes putting those coffee tables and bookcases relatively easy to put together, compared to designing and constructing your own from scratch.

Scientists at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, in collaboration with the Center for Research Computing at the University of Notre Dame, Texas Advanced Computing Center, Computation Institute at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory; and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis at University of California, Santa Barbara, are hoping to do the same thing with computer code. “Whole Tale,” a new, five-year, $5 million National Science Foundation-funded Data Infrastructure Building Blocks’ (DIBBs) project, aims to give researchers the same instructions and ingredients to help ensure reproducibility and pave the way for new discoveries.

Whole Tale will enable researchers to examine, transform, and then seamlessly republish research data, creating “living articles” that will enable new discovery by allowing researchers to construct representations and syntheses of data.

“Whole Tale” alludes to both the “whole publication story” and the “long tail of science.” The project will create methods and tools for scientists to link executable code, data, and other information directly to online scholarly publications, whether the resources used are small-scale computation or state-of-the-art high-performance computing.

“The Center for Research Computing at the University of Notre Dame is very proud to be part of this collaboration. Whole Tale will contribute to openness and reproducibility of scientific research. We strive to deliver tools that scientists can use to preserve the integrity of science”, says co-PI at Notre Dame Jarek Nabrzyski, director of the Center for Research Computing and a concurrent associate professor of Computer Science and Engineering.

How will Whole Tale work? Through a web-browser, a scientist will be able to seamlessly access research data and carry out analyses in the Whole Tale environment. Digital research objects, such as code, scripts, or data produced during the research, can be shared between collaborators. These will be bundled with the paper to produce a “living article,” accessible by reviewers and the scientific community for in-depth pre- and post-publication peer review. Augmenting the traditional research publication with the full computational environment will enable discovery of underlying data and code, facilitating reproducibility and reuse. Whole Tale will provide an environment of multiple, independently developed frontends (e.g., Jupyter, RStudio, or Shiny) where data can be explored in myriad ways to yield better opportunities for understanding, use, and reuse of the data.

For the whole story, visit: http://www.ncsa.illinois.edu/news/story/whole_tale_enables_new_discovery_by_bringing_life_to_research_articles

Follow the development of this five-year project at: http://wholetale.org/.

Originally published by Kallie O’Connell at conductorshare.nd.edu on June 22, 2016.