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08 Nov 2019

An overview of RDA 14th meeting as an early career grantee

My participation in the recent 14th RDA Plenary meeting in Helsinki was under the role of an early career grantee; but also as a newcomer as this was my first RDA meeting. Just to provide some needed context, I am currently concluding my PhD studies at the Institute of Applied Biosciences (INAB) at the Centre for Research and Technology Hellas (CERTH) in Thessaloniki, Greece. My particular research interests are focused on the better use of publicly available NGS data towards addressing questions in epinegenomics in Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, while being mindful of the Open Science principles and especially the reproducibility aspects.

First thoughts

To be truly honest, as a first-timer in an RDA meeting you can get easily lost and mentally overwhelmed by the huge number of parallel breakout sessions on a wide range of interesting topics. For this reason and as an early career grantee, Fava Ilaria and Timea Biro from RDA-EU helped us a lot by guiding us and introducing us to specific WG or IG that were more relevant to our scientific background and overall interests.

I attended 7 sessions in the 4 days of the Plenary itself – and I’ll try to briefly convey here the most interesting points that I came across in a few of them.

Going through sessions

Early Career and Engagement: Building a Flexible and Inclusive to all Data Mentoring Programme - IG

This is a session that is dedicated in particular to the Early Careers – and one of the fairly recently introduced IGs in RDA. I was pleasantly surprised by the range of different backgrounds in the experts from the panel (e.g. biochemistry, engineering, bioinformatics). In my point of view, the more informative part of the discussion was “the three tips for early careers” in which experts of the panel provided some “hot” advice on research data. Eventually, three consensus points emerged; (1) identify the appropriate repositories [share analysis, pipelines easier, preliminary evidence], (2) include “real” data management [correct names for future needs and “protect” your future self from] and (3) teach other people the open science framework; and of course, be an advocate of RDA.

Data Discovery Paradigms: Reports from Task Forces and Way Ahead

I directly assisted in this session by taking up the role of note-taker. It is worth mentioning, that there was a fairly engaging discussion around the Data Granularity Task Force including aspects such as the definition of the data granularity level as well as how granularity can have an impact on the structure of data stored in a repository. A lot of people from the audience took part in this discussion and involved actively in this task highlighting the fact that there is no unique solution for a lot of data-related issues. As an extra point, it was a revealing moment of how active an IG can be in practice.

Leveraging RDA Data Training Experience in a Data-driven Economy: Education and Training on Handling Research Data IG

A highlight moment for me in this session was when the Chair of the IG asked for a new IG based on the questions of the audience about recourses for curriculums and about how the validation of them might take place. Since I am a recently certified Instructor in the Carpentries, that gave me the perfect opportunity to get involved even more in the RDA community.

RDA/CODATA Summer Schools in Data Science and Cloud Computing in the Developing World: Extending the CODATA-RDA Schools to Embrace Data Stewardship

I am already active in this field since I have been co-teaching at the CODATA-RDA Research Data Science Advanced Workshop on Advanced Bioinformatics, led by my collaborator Fotis Psomopoulos, in Trieste for 2018 and 2019. It was a pleasant experience to discuss this further with the organizing committee, and have some insights into what the future might bring.

What I gained and what's next?

Directly participating in the RDA Plenary allowed me to have a better understanding of how RDA works, as well as how it can complement my own work. The first step for me will be to adopt RDA Recommendations that could be incorporated into my existing work and especially the open sciences framework using repositories and perform my own data management. Additionally, I have already joined a few IGs and WGs hoping to become more active within the worldwide RDA community from here on now. Therefore, participation in the RDA 14th plenary in Helsinki was a truly useful experience, and I sincerely hope that I’ll be able to participate and actively contribute in the near future.

Data does make the difference!

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