IT in food research

IT in food research: finding, understanding and sharing information

Research creates masses of data – a goldmine for further research. Wageningen Food & Biobased Research gives researchers the tools to quickly and easily find, understand and share data.

Modern research techniques produce a wealth of data for researchers. At the same time, they create information overload. With so much data spread across multiple sources and stored in different ways it is a challenge to find the right data, let alone understand how it was produced, or trace back which data was used for which conclusions.

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research helps food researchers in industry and research organisations to preserve and organise their data. We facilitate them in finding appropriate information, understanding it and sharing the ensuing knowledge. This has many benefits: it gets more value out of research, saves time and money, creates better insights, encourages collaboration and accelerates translating research into innovation. Organisations get the best out of their R&D investment while transparency and traceability are also improved.

Semantics makes data usable

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research has over ten years’ experience using semantics and e-science to support research processes. We translate our knowledge of both IT and the research process into smart applications for the agrifood sector, allowing researchers to easily input data in the right context, and with the right meaning. The data is linked, for example, to a particular research question, the specific material being investigated, and the experiment which produced the data. The data can be more easily found and traced back to its origin. Our semantic tools help researchers to understand and readily use each other’s data.

Our tools meet international standards for sharing data. Where necessary, we can tailor these solutions to specific customer needs. We support clients in implementing research data management in their organisations. We can also advise about the correct statistical analysis of data.

Organize data efficiently

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research has developed - in close collaboration with researchers from TI Food and Nutrition - the Tiffany system: a safe and secure environment for researchers. It allows them to store, search, interpret and share their findings, both during and after projects. A large amount of research data is numerical. To understand these numbers correctly, their meaning and context must also be stored. We have developed the OM ontology: a software-based reference source for scientific units and quantities, which allows essential information about units and quantities to be unambiguously stated. The OM-ontology is used in Rosanne, an Excel add-in that helps researchers to quickly and accurately describe the meaning of their data, and uses this meaning to assist them in integrating different data files.

Terminologies such as OM are a key part in developing smart software, as they provide the background information which is essential to tailor the software to a given research area. We have developed ROC+: a tool that helps researchers efficiently develop ontologies for their domain. We assist them in the use of ROC+ and in refining the results to a ready-to-use ontology. Foodvoc is an online, freely-accessible platform where ontologies about food are available to browse and download.