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14 May 2017

RDA 9th plenary meeting – a newcomer’s perspective

The 9th Research Data Alliance (RDA) Plenary Meeting was held in early April 2017 at Barcelona with the theme of Data Infrastructures for Open Science. It is a biannual exciting and productive event that brings people working on data from different disciplines together. I am glad that I had the opportunity to attend this big event with around 600 participants from worldwide. I would like to acknowledge the support from RDA EU Early Career support Programme. It gave me, as an early-career research scientist, a unique opportunity to explore recent data-sharing and data-driven research activities at RDA.

The three-day event, 9th RDA Plenary meeting, consists of plenary sessions, multiple parallel Working Group (WG), Interest Group (IG), and Birds of Feather (BoF) Group working meetings, poster/demo sessions, and social events. Those working meetings gather people together to move forward the development and implementation specific data-sharing and data-driven research. Moreover, there are RDA Industry Forum, and several interesting collocated and associated events on various topics, held during two days prior to the plenary.

This is my first time to attend an RDA plenary meeting. Before, I only had a very rough idea on RDA and its associated WG, IG, and BoF. I found it is interesting that RDA is a community-driven organization in which different communities formed various WF, IG and BOF to boost the development of data-sharing and data-driven research in a bottom-up manner. There is a large variety of disciplines, organizations, and countries. The RDA plenary meeting, a multi-discipline event with worldwide participants, drew my interests immediately. I had a strong feeling that I must attend this event to open my eyes on every aspect on data related activities.

I started my first RDA journey on April 3rd to catch up with the Collocated & Associated Events spanning two days prior to the main plenary meeting, such as EUDAT Semantic workshop and BlueBRIDGE Workshop, Industry Forum, and the RDA for Newcomers session. During these interesting events, the themes range from data semantic work, FAIR data principles, EU data policies, open science cloud, to brief introduction of RDA. Here, I would like to emphasis on the RDA for Newcomers session. The session covered quite a wide range of RDA and the plenary meeting. I think it gave useful information for the newcomers to both RDA and the plenary meeting, who have very little or partial knowledge like me on what RDA is, how it works, and what to expect from the plenary meeting.

After two days of Collocated & Associated Events, the RDA plenary meeting started on April 5th. In the morning, it is the main plenary session with interesting talks from 7 speakers covering a wide range of topics. There are around 600 participants from worldwide and plenty of interesting discussions with a very good atmosphere. Then there are multiple parallel sessions of WG/IG/BoF working meetings spanning the next three days. It was quite difficult for me to choose which sessions to attend, because there were so many interesting sessions that attracted me. Therefore, I tried to join as many parallel sessions that I could, which was up to 20 in the end! Those sessions had various topics and themes, some of which were quite unfamiliar for me. However, I obtained quite good views on the topics of WG/IG/BoFs and their corresponding status. This really increased my understanding on different fields and widened my views on some new data-driven research activities in different disciplines. In particular, during these sessions, I followed two very interesting sessions: “WG RDA / TD Metadata Standards for attribution of physical and digital collections stewardship: Developing user roles and data models” and “IG Virtual Research Environment: coordinating sustainable online research environments across multiple infrastructures”. The first one was a working meeting that reviewed the work package and the use cases in this WG and planned the following work. There were fruitful discussions and interesting comments on several cases between the chairs and the audience. For instance, the discussions on who will be the creditors of the digital collections is very interesting, with many comments exchanged. The latter session presented the use cases and tried to finalize them, and also covered several topics on Virtual Research Environments. The speakers in this session were divided into three groups based on the geographical locations, Europe, North America, and Oceania. Each speaker took turns to talk on different topics, which is a quite efficient way to present. There was a large audience in this session and plenty of questions and comments. It is quite interesting to recognize and discuss key ingredients for successful and vibrant virtual research communities.

During the meeting, I also had the opportunity to present my work during the poster session. In this session, I had several interesting talks and discussion on my work. Moreover, the informal RDA P9 US/EU lunch gave the opportunity to meet and exchange views not only with recipients of the RDA-EU Early Career Support Programm but also with the RDA-US Data Share Fellows.  

The experience of my first RDA plenary meeting is definitely positive. I managed to explore a number of recent data-sharing and data-driven research activities from different communities and also cross-disciplinary research at RDA. I would like to thank the RDA EU Early Career support Programme again for my first RDA plenary experience which was fantastic and fruitful.

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