BIDS and NIDM: Improving Imaging Data Sharing Together

BIDS (the Brain Imaging Data Structure) and NIDM (the NeuroImaging Data Model) both grew out of the INCF NeuroImaging DAtaSHaring Task Force (NI-DASH)), as parallel efforts to address different aspects of data sharing.  Specifically, the need for standards of organization and annotation.  A recent joint statement by these development groups has been released to better document the the synergy between these initiatives. In brief, these two initiatives can be summarized as follows:

BIDS is a standard that prescribes a formal convention for naming and organizing neuroimaging data and metadata in a file system that simplifies documentation, communication and collaboration between users, and enables easier data validation and software development through consistent paths and naming for data files.

NIDM is a Semantic Web-based metadata standard that helps capture and describe experimental data, analytic workflows and statistical results via the provenance of the data. NIDM uses consistent data descriptors in the form of machine accessible terminology, and a formal, extensible data model, which enables rich aggregation and query across datasets and domains.

BIDS has rapidly become a critically useful tool in neuroimaging data sharing by greatly reducing the barriers to documenting and sharing the imaging aspects of a study. Indeed, BIDS is specifically implicated in the ReproNim 5-Steps to More Reproducible Neuroimaging Research recommendations. However, many of the nuances that characterize much of the meaning of a specific dataset or its derivatives requires additional information in order to fully capture the specific meaning of the content. For example, the details of IQ as a measure of intelligence as may be reported in a BIDS ‘participants.tsv’ file can depend upon the way this data is collected and reported: is it a ‘full scale’, ‘performance’ or ‘verbal’ IQ? Semantic markup, as supported by the standard descriptors of the NIDM representation, helps to disambiguate measures through annotation of a measure (e.g. IQ, age) relative to the concept it represents, including documentation of the methods, units, ranges, etc. associated with that measure. As the semantics of a measure are equally important to understanding shared data as the format of the data representation, semantic annotation is also a key element of the ReproNim 5-Steps.

We at ReproNim resonate with the conclusion of the Joint BIDS-NIDM Statement in our support for the:

“…integrated use of both of these standards, (BIDS plus NIDM can be defined as a “SemanticBIDS” representation), in order to both maximize the ‘ease of [re]use’ and ‘ease of sharing’ of neuroimaging data in support of greater research transparency. The BIDS and NIDM development communities will continue to work together to build tools for further synergies between these initiatives.”

As such, ReproNim strives to increase the efficiency of neuroimaging tools that help drive the adoption of these best-practices of data sharing in support of our overarching goal of enhancing overall neuroimaging research reproducibility.

(Discover, Replicate, Innovate)Repeat

“Reproducible by Design”