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RDA Code of Conduct and How to Report a Breach

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    Stefanie Kethers

    A copy of this document was published as, to be added to the “About RDA” top-level menu.

    This is an updated version of the new RDA Code of Conduct incorporating community feedback. It was published on 22 March 2018. Information on how to report a breach was added in March 2019.

    Please see the section “Reporting a Breach of the RDA Code of Conduct” if you wish to report such a breach.


    Updated RDA Code of Conduct



    RDA is a rapidly growing global community of diverse individuals, institutes, government bodies, and organisations including corporations and businesses with valuable expertise, perspectives, and experiences. RDA greatly benefits from the mixing of cultures, but is also vulnerable to the dangers that can arise from cross-cultural misunderstandings. To better support a safe and inclusive environment for all community members, RDA is articulating a Code of Conduct to clearly signal community norms. This document assumes that the overwhelming majority of people wish to contribute to RDA come from a place of respect for the organisation and its members. The intent of the document is to be explicit about inappropriate behaviour and to outline associated consequences.

    This document should be seen as just one stepping stone towards continuing to collaboratively build a more welcoming and inclusive RDA. The Code of Conduct will be reviewed regularly by Council based on feedback from members.

    A set of Frequently Asked Questions relating to the creation and purpose of codes of conduct is available.


    Professional Behaviour

    Your contributions to RDA, regardless of venue, make RDA stronger and are valued by the RDA community. We ask that as part of the RDA community, you help others feel equally valued and welcomed by treating others with the respect and professionalism with which you would like to be treated. All members of RDA are expected to abide by the core principles initially agreed to upon joining RDA.


    Production/Posting of Inappropriate Content

    RDA expects members to refrain from production or posting any of the following2 in an RDA context:

    1. Material that infringes the copyright of another person or entity, including insufficient copyright attribution.

    2. Material which defames, abuses or threatens others.

    3. Material or statements that incite to violence.

    4. Statements that are bigoted, hateful or racially offensive.

    5. Material that advocates illegal activity or discusses illegal activities with the intent to commit them.

    6. Material that contains vulgar, obscene or indecent language or images.

    7. Unauthorized posting of personal information (names, address, phone number, email, etc.) of other individuals, sometimes referred to as doxxing.

    8. Commercial solicitations.

    9. Opinions of fictitious parties.

    We expect participants to follow these rules at conference and workshop venues, conference-related social events, on official RDA online platforms, or when using associated social media identifiers of RDA, e.g. #RDAPlenary, @resdatall.



    Harassment includes, but is not limited to, offensive verbal or written comments related to any of the following: gender, gender identity and expression, age, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, body size, color, race, ethnicity, religion. It can also include activities related to display of sexual images in public spaces, deliberate intimidation, stalking, following, harassing photography or recording, sustained disruption of talks or other events, inappropriate physical contact, and unwelcome sexual attention.

    RDA recognises that what is offensive will vary across cultures and individuals. Harassment is defined from the perspective of the individual who is the target of the harassment.  In the case of divergent views, cases will be presented to Council. Council will be the ultimate arbiter.


    Reporting a Breach of the RDA Code of Conduct

    Contacting RDA

    Harassment and other Code of Conduct violations reduce the value of RDA for everyone. If you notice any violation of the RDA Code of Conduct, please report this as soon as possible through one of the following options:

    • Contact the RDA Secretary General, Hilary Hanahoe, the policy officer for the Research Data Alliance. You can speak to Hilary in person at any RDA Plenary, or email Hilary at hilary.hanahoe[at]

    • Email  Emails to this address are visible to two members of the RDA Secretariat: Stefanie Kethers (RDA Director of Operations) and Lynn Yarmey (RDA Socio-technical Coordinator). Alternatively, you can also contact either of them individually. Their email addresses are stefanie.kethers[at] and yarmel[at], respectively. You can also speak to either of them at any RDA Plenary.

    • At any Plenary, you may contact in person Hilary, Stefanie, Lynn, or Amy Nurnberger, one of the OAB co-chairs.  

    At RDA Plenaries, these members will be visually identified, e.g. by badges or ribbons, and you can also approach any member of the Secretariat, Technical Advisory Board (TAB), Council or Organisational Advisory Board (OAB) to help you find any one of these four members. 

    Next steps

    Information required

    Depending on the actual incident, the first person you contact will identify the most suitable RDA point of contact to deal with the incident.

    For verbal reports, the RDA point of contact will collect the following information. In written reports, please include as much information as possible, especially3:

    • Your contact information (so we can get in touch with you if we need to follow up).

    • Names of any individuals involved. If there were other witnesses besides you, please try to include them as well.

    • When and where the incident occurred. Please be as specific as possible.

    • Your account of what occurred. If there is a record available (e.g. a mailing list archive) please include a link or screenshot.

    • Any additional context you believe existed surrounding the incident.

    • If you believe this incident is or may be ongoing.

    • Any other information you believe we should have.

    Initiating the Process

    Once a report has been received, you will receive an email acknowledging receipt that your report has been noted. Unless Council is implicated, the Council co-chairs will then discuss the incident and determine how to proceed. Actions and next steps will be determined on a case by case basis. In most cases, the Council co-chairs will nominate a Moderator who will manage the complaint. The Moderator will be impartial, with no direct connection to any of the parties involved and will act without bias or an appearance of bias. 

    If this is determined to be an ongoing incident or a threat to physical safety, the RDA respondents’ immediate priority will be to protect everyone involved. This means an “official” response may be delayed until they believe that the situation has been resolved and that everyone is physically safe.

    For serious incidents:

    Accusations of criminal activity will be reported to local law enforcement if you agree, and RDA Council Co-Chairs and local host notified immediately.

    You will be supported for the remainder of the event as appropriate.

    After Reporting a Breach

    Within one week, you will receive notice of a resolution and course of action, or an explanation of why the situation is not yet resolved. Your feedback on the decision may be taken into account, but it may or may not affect the final outcome4.

    Incident details will be logged in confidential records, to document patterns that may emerge, even over longer timeframes. Please note that all reports are kept confidential and only shared with those who “need to know”. Retaliation in any form against anyone reporting an incident of harassment, independent of the outcome, will not be tolerated5.



    1 Original source and credit: & The Ada Initiative. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

     Items 1-8 are drawn from, used with permission and modified slightly for RDA purposes.

    3 From

    4 From

    5 From

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