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27 Mar 2015

Impressions on the 5th plenary, Publishing Data Services WG and surroundings

I’m a PhD student in Information and Computer Science Engineering at the University of Pisa and I work as research fellow at the National Research Council (CNR) in the same city.

My research group works on Digital Library foundations, Digital Library Management Systems, Data Management and Data Curation Services for Science, Scientific Data Infrastructure foundations and middleware, and I am directly involved in the development of services supporting them.


The Early Career grant has been a terrific opportunity to approach an event of such wide scope, so many different activities and a very ambitious goal. I was assigned to the Publishing Data Services WG, and I think I found my sweet spot in there, even though this was my first contact with the RDA world.


The overall meeting organization was really impressive, and the venue totally made it worth travelling around 10.000 Km (~6.200 Miles) to get there. The participants from all around the world and from different backgrounds made it a big networking opportunity.

As one of the Early Career grant winners I was asked to present a poster of my research activity. After the opening talks by Mark Parson, Jim Kurose, and Margaret Leinen the first poster session began, and it was a great opportunity to meet other young researchers, know about their work, and get precious feedbacks from them about mine. The last daily poster session couldn't be better: the posters location was perfect, the terrace in front of the bay provided the right mixture between visibility and chatting opportunities.


The parallel sessions were so many, and I filled my agenda with WGs and IGs, covering many hot topics beyond the Publishing Data Services WG I was assigned to, as data interlinking, data citations, bibliometrics, pids, are all hot topics tightly connected with the management of the data involved in the scholarly communication process.

In each session the questions from the audience pushed the speech even further, putting on the table their use cases and the reality of the daily work of researchers, data management practitioners, professors and field experts. I think the Q&A sessions provided the real added value to the RDA activities, and I hope they’ll be taken into account for the future planning of RDA itself.


Unluckily the breakout sessions required to sacrifice part of the interesting topics I’d have followed, but for a newcomer like me the WGs and IGs I had the chance to discover gave me a clear impression: they are contributing as pieces of a big and complex puzzle, as the topics on the table of RDA surely defines a very wide set of issues.


Looking at the future steps of RDA one of the biggest challenges is probably going to be the definition of reference models and an architecture that puts all the pieces together, and it’s nice to see that an initiative like the Data Fabric IG is taking exactly this direction.

I close this contribute with a question that I kept asking myself when I realised the complexity of the goal: what kind of organization will be able to adopt the reference models, and/or to implement the reference architecture? I have the feeling that the required technological effort might be considerable, and for small organizations the bar “to be in” could be high.

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