As a first-timer on the RDA Plenary, you are not sure exactly what to expect. A lot of people interested in the field of research data? Sure. Many presentations on current trends and challenges? Of course. But what struck me the most during these days in Dublin were the constant, on-going intense discussions which took place literally everywhere. People gathering in small groups in the corridors, outside the conference venue, even in the rest rooms, not just to catch up but to actually talk about issues related to research data.
When asking a person I used to work with what he was expecting from the Plenary he simply raised his eyebrows like it was a redundant question and said “you know, everybody who is anybody in this field come to the RDA Plenaries, you simply have to go if you want to meet them all in the same place.” But it is not just about the “anybodies” - the people who are already well-known for their achievements. Many young people also attended the Dublin Plenary, much thanks to the “Early Career Researcher and Scientist support programme” which allowed for 22 persons from all over Europe to take part in the conference. Another contributing factor was the Irish Research Council’s Poster Session, where part of the multi-disciplinary IRC-funded PhD and Post Doc research was showcased. When speaking to some of the researchers showcasing their posters, all of them concluded that the crowd showed a real interest in their research and additionally asked “unusually clever questions”.
The high level of ambition could also be noticed in the various Working Groups, Interest Groups and BoFs – where the genuine interest of actually wanting to solve issues was dominating the atmosphere. Not much time was spent on lengthy introductions in these sessions, which may be a bit challenging for a newcomer, but is a must to be able to reach some real progress in a limited amount of time. I spent much time in these sessions trying to scribble down the essence of interesting discussions like “if there is a transferable cost model for data curation” or “how to make researchers aware of workflows for data publication”.
The overall feeling when leaving Dublin was that the RDA Plenary is not just another conference – it’s a place to get things done.
Written by Marie Sandberg, CSC firstname.lastname@example.org