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26 May 2020

My experience with the VP15 - between Melbourne and Berlin

2017, Berlin:

I participated in an RDA Plenary Meeting for the first time. I was just starting my adventure with Research Data Management and I was advised to go there to get connected with the community and to see what the current discussions in the field were. I was not disappointed. I was introduced to such a large community, with members from all over the world, and all with a deep interest in the same topic: the development and improvement of RDM. I met fabulous people that remain friends to this day, I got insights into new developments, and I was impressed by the organization of the event. Since then, however, I have not had the opportunity to participate in any of the following plenary sessions.

2020, Melbourne:

I was awarded one of the RDA Europe 4.0 Early Career Researcher grants to attend the RDA 15th Plenary Meeting in Melbourne, Australia. The grant was in recognition of my status as a doctoral student, who is doing a doctorate in the field of publication of research data and is engaged in different working groups regarding training and education of research data. I was one of only 7 people selected so the award was a great success for me. Besides the participation, the opportunity to exchange with the peers, and the presentation of our posters, we were also given the opportunity to increase the visibility of our research. And as an extra bonus, we got the possibility to fly out to Australia.

I was already in Melbourne when I learned that the physical meeting was cancelled due to the outbreak of COVID-19.  Instead, it was now going to be held in a virtual form. I was saddened not to be able to meet the community, but the decision of the secretariat was, of course, a reasonable one. As it turned out, I wasn't the only one who was there a few days early, so we - the stranded ones - at least managed to meet in a small group – in the short time before even that became too much of a risk.

2020, Berlin:

After my return to Germany the virtual event began. I was very surprised how quickly the organizers were able to put together such a large-scale virtual event so professionally. I chose several sessions from the extensive program which thematically fit best to my research and my work, e.g.

  • BoF: Challenges in professionalizing data stewardship: how can the RDA contribute to solving them?
  • Data Granularity: User Perspectives, Data Citation and Data Versioning
  • IG SHaring Reward & Credit (SHARC): FAIR training material and networks (FAIR literacy vectors)
  • Early Career and Engagement IG: Building a Flexible and Inclusive-to-all Data Mentoring Programme.

All the sessions were of a really high standard, including the talks, presentations, and the discussion in the end of each session. Thanks to the RDA community that consist of so many committed people from around the world and from so many different disciplines; the ideas, the discussions, and the goals set are so diverse, rich in implementations and, above all, full of motivation. It was an inspiring experience, especially for Early Career Researchers such as myself.

As one of the chairs of the Education and Training on Handling Research Data IG I was part of the “Real-world data training for real-world data impact” session where I also gave a presentation on "Diversity in training materials". This meeting addressed the importance of pragmatic training in handling research data and has aroused the interest of the more than 60 participants. After answering the questions from the attendees, we identified new working groups within the IG, on which work is now continuing.

Finally, I also presented a poster at the VP15. Since the poster session also took place virtually, the posters got a lot of visibility in the Social Media and aroused a lot of interest. My poster has received more than 1100 views so far, which has already led to potential new international collaborations. At the Best Poster Award, where all participants were allowed to vote for their top 5 posters, my poster was the winner, which was very surprising for me but also very pleasing.

In summary, I can only again express my enthusiasm about the RDA Plenary Meeting. Even though I would have loved to meet the community in Melbourne personally, the virtual version of it was also an enriching experience. With worldwide access to the free sessions, VP15 enabled the participation of people who could not afford the trip to Australia. Personally, I was again able to take a lot with me; I learned a lot about e.g. data versioning or data granularity and I’m now also a member of the Professionalising Data Stewardship IG. The participation in the RDA Plenary has supported me in my research and expanded my perspective. I can't wait to attend the next plenary meeting! Hope to see you all in Costa Rica!

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