BoF on Non-standard Digital Research Outputs - RDA 12th Plenary Meeting

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BoF Meeting title
BoF on Non-standard Digital Research Outputs

Collaborative session notes
(link to be added)

Short introduction describing the activities and the scope of the group

There is an increasing recognition amongst the academic community that data-sharing and transparency also requires sharing non-standard research outputs. Such non-standard outputs can include all types of materials, such as laboratory or field protocols for measurements (including, for example, calibration standards) and codes for analytical tools and for models (including successive versions). Other definitions of non-standard research outputs speak of services like vocabularies and registries, but also those such as conference slides, data visualizations, blogs, videos, reports, and images. Clearly, there is a very broad range of non-standard outputs, and these will be different for different domains.

There are a number of repositories being used to archive part of these non-standard outputs (e.g., Github for computer code and version control) or to share information (e.g., digital photographs used for identifications of herbarium-type specimens). Journals have moreover emerged to support publication of non-standard outputs (e.g., Geoscientific Model Development for model code). Nevertheless, non-standard outputs are typically not included in certified data repositories, and the long-term funding model for many of the services currently used is dependent on continued scientific funding of a person and/or organization, relies on pro bono contributions, or is unclear. Hence, whilst the existence of such repositories is very important for the traceability of non- standard scientific outputs, failure of these resources will obviously compromise their transparency.

The World Data System (WDS) has a nascent Working Group that is beginning to explore issues of long-term stewardship of and access to non-standard digital research outputs. This Birds of a Feather Session will act as a platform to expand these internal conversation to all interested parties within RDA, and thus gauge the community’s opinion on what it—as well as organizations such as WDS and CoreTrustSeal—could and should be doing to address these issues.


Additional Links

The Working Group under the World Data System has no resources available on either the WDS or RDA websites at the time of submission of this proposal. However, materials may be added to at least to the WDS website before the 12th Plenary Meeting, and will be highlighted in any RDA session page setup upon the proposal’s acceptance.


Meeting objectives

The remit of the World Data System (WDS) is—alongside the CoreTrustSeal—to certify holders and providers of data and data products. Other research products are a natural extension of that remit. For example, supposedly FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable) data cannot be reused over time if the software needed to access and interpret it is lost. Thus, the sustainability of software, as a non-standard output of research, should be close to the heart of these organizations.

The principal objective of this session is to bring together the many stakeholders of non-standard digital outputs—scientists, repository managers, funders, publishers,...—to debate what, if anything, might be done to help sustain and guarantee the trustworthiness of (repositories of) these components of research activity, and who should take a leading role in that endeavour. It builds on some of the discussions that have started to take place in the IG Certification of Digital Repositories.


Meeting agenda

  • Introduction – Aims and Objectives
  • Examples from Different Fields and Key Players
  • Definition, Scope, and Typologies
  • Results of Survey of WDS Members and White Paper
  • Discussion – What is the responsibility of organizations such as WDS and what can be done together with other players
  • Next steps


This meeting is aimed at everyone with an interest or stake in the curation, preservation, discovery, and access for the long term of digital assets beyond data emanating from any/all domains of scientific research.

Group chair serving as contact person
Rorie Edmunds

Type of meeting
Working meeting - Community discussion towards a possible joint RDA/WDS Working Group