The general idea of this article is quite interesting and certainly worth to be examined and published. The practical usefulness as well as the scientific contribution are, however, very limited.
From a scientific point of view, two very serious flaws need to mentioned:
- Constructing a reference model is a challenging task and usually an inductive process. It requires analysis of existing models or examples and the destillation of common features out of those. For this article, only the "research network on liver cancer as primary source" (l. 76) was used. Constructing a model with the claim to be a reference model from a single example source is quite keen.
- The model has not been validated at all - except from the implementation for the project it was developed from in the first place. However, this is kind of a circular reasoning and therefore no considerable validation.
As regards the pratical impact of the presented reference model:
- Many aspects of basic requirements engineering are not covered: the involved stakeholders and their roles, as well as the system context and its environment (which are needed to define the interfaces), are not even mentioned on the most abstract level.
- Most "goals" and "requirements" are trivia (e.g. "RG2: Answer research questions" or "RR1: Create data").
- Other "goals" and "requirements" are completely missing: e.g. data storage & data exchange, to name just two that could be extracted directly from RG3/4/5. An arbitrary number of additional goals and requirements is conceivable ("Publish data/research...").
The motivation and the goal of this article is well presented and comprehensible since it points out a major challenge of contemporary research. A sound reference model could be a really useful tool. The actual outcome, however, should be revised substantially.