Ethics and Social Aspects of Data IG - TAB Review

Interest Group Title:  Ethics and Social Aspects of Data [charter]

Proposers: Kalpana Shankar and Candice Lanius

Date Received by TAB: Passed to TAB after conclusion of Community Review on 7 May 2015

Date Review Completed:  26 May 2015 (AT)

TAB Reviewers:  Carole Palmer, Andrew Treloar



This interest group seeks to create a dedicated space in RDA to discuss ethical and social issues with respect to data archiving, sharing, and reuse. Ethical and social issues occur frequently within the technical and policy work of the rest of RDA. Such issues are complementary to but separate from legal and regulatory aspects which other groups cover, since technology usually outpaces legal precedent, and law itself is underpinned by ethical agreements and social contracts. The group claims to differentiate itself from other RDA efforts by focusing on the ethical agreements and social contracts that inform and constrain data sharing practices.


Focus and Fit:

(Are the Interest Group objectives aligned with the RDA mission ?  Is the scope too large for effective progress, too small for an RDA effort, or not appropriate for the RDA?  Overall, is this a worthwhile effort for the RDA to take on?  Is this an effort that adds value over and above what is currently being done within the community?)


The objectives of the group support the reduction in non-technical barriers (what we sometimes call social bridges) to greater data interoperability and re-use. The scope is potentially unbounded, but they are proposing to start with defined areas. The activity augments what is already underway within the RDA community in useful ways. I would note that the reference to "enforce" under Objective 4 can only be something that is enforced by funding agencies or the like - RDA has no enforcement role. 


CP - This is a good start on organizing the many RDA members interested in social dimensions of open, reusable data. The scope is very broad and there is a risk of not being able to get traction any of the pressing areas of concern. Hopefully over time we will achieve more definition. As an "interest group" broadly conceived, it seems more advisable to strive for "principles" rather than "policies." 



(Does the initial membership list include sufficient expertise, and disciplinary and international representation?  Are the people involved in the Interest Group sufficient to make tangible progress?  What individuals or organizations are missing?) 


The membership provides sufficient coverage across types of organisations, research domains and geographies. In particular, the links with relevant non-RDA groups are welcome. I don't know all of the members in the group, but I have a high regard for the ones I do know, and their ability to make progress in a complex space.


CP - Agree that the membership is promising and after the successful meeting at the last plenary, I expect it will grow.


Impact and Engagement:

(Is it likely that the Interest Group will engage the intended community?  Is there evidence that the research community wants this?  Will the outcome(s) of the Interest Group foster data sharing and/or exchange?)


Given the range of those involved, I believe that the group will engage a range of relevant communities. For some research domains, it is possible that this group is ahead of their thinking, but there are domains that recognise the need for this approach. For the other domains, this group will be able to develop approaches ahead of demand.


CP - It would be good to have a sense of cross-membership and current ongoing conversations with other RDA groups to help inform how they can best achieve their stated aim of addressing "ethical dilemmas that arise from new data sharing practices (both technical and social) within the RDA." How will the dilemmas be identified?



Charter is Sufficient X; Charter Requires Revision __  Charter is Rejected __



<if conditional, state revisions … e.g., TAB recommends that the IG charter be conditionally approved subject to the following change to the IG charter:>