This page is intended as a primer for first-time RDA Working and Interest Group Chairs. Although there are many important roles and responsibilities specific to these positions, it is just as important for Chairs to have a clear understanding of RDA’s mission, structure and goals.
To address the growing global need for data infrastructure, the Research Data Alliance was created in 2013 as an international, community-powered organization of researchers, data scientists and organizations. Membership is open at no cost to any individual who agrees to the RDA principles of openness, consensus-based decision making, balanced representation, technology neutrality, and harmonization across communities and technologies.
Working groups (WG), Interest groups (IG) and Birds of a Feather (BoF) groups are the heart of RDA. For timeframes averaging between 12 to 18 months, WGs collaborate to implement specific tools, code, best practices, standards, etc. that will promote data sharing and exchange, and increase data-driven innovation. IGs define common issues and interests that ultimately lead to the creation of more focused Working Groups. BoF groups aim to find other RDA members interested in a specific topic and explore whether there is sufficient interest to create an IG or WG on the topic. Members within these groups collaborate through the member-only section of the RDA website, regional workshops and at formal RDA Plenaries that are held twice a year.
The governance structure of the RDA consists of an international Steering Group, an elected Council and a Technical Advisory Board. Organizational Members and Affiliates are also part of this framework and responsible for encouraging and endorsing RDA groups and broader interest. Administration for the RDA is carried out by the Secretariat.
Roles and Responsibilities:
WG and IG Group Chairs are responsible for initiating the formation of their Groups and leading their members in the execution of a RDA-approved strategy to deliver specific solutions that directly enable data sharing, exchange or interoperability. RDA requires at least two but no more than four Chairs to take primary responsibility for the quality, scope, timeliness and usefulness of the work produced by these groups. Chairs provide an effective organization structure, ensure their group functions in accordance with the RDA Guiding Principles and perform various administrative responsibilities related to the operation of the Group. Role descriptions are categorized below by phases in the WG and IG Group lifecycle.
Recruiting Group Members:
- Ensure membership represents 3 or more continents and comprise multiple sectors/disciplines
- Communicate the 12-18 month participation requirement to WG members (IGs remain in operation as long as they remain active, subject to periodic evaluation of their activity and its relevant to RDA aims)
Obtaining Approval to Initiate a RDA WG or IG:
To initiate a RDA WG or IG, Chairs should:
Contact enquiries [at] rd-alliance.org about your intent to develop a WG or IG; a Secretariat Liaison will then be assigned to assist the group throughout its duration.
For WGs, lead the Case Statement development process; which includes:
- Submitting a document that includes the issues the group will address, outcomes it will produce, who will benefit from the group’s effort, its work plan and its adoption plan
- Responding to community comments posted on the Case Statement page during Community Review Phase
- Working with group to revise case statement based on feedback from community, TAB, and Council
Learn more about the Case Statement Development and Review Process.
For IGs, lead the Charter development process, which includes:
- Developing a short charter following the Interest Group Charter template, describing their activities and listing two to four co-chairs
- Ensuring there is no overlap with existing groups and the topic of interest does not promote one specific product or technology
Administering Operations of the Working and Interest Groups:
- Lead development of deliverables
- Facilitate coordination and communication within the group
- Help the group keep abreast of related activities within RDA (other WGs and IGs) and actively seek collaborations where appropriate. (Note this is a significant task).
- Develop record of relevant notes, minutes and materials from Groups for archive purposes
- Organize and facilitate regular group meetings
- Utilize the RDA website and online interaction channels to engage the community and keep the community informed of their efforts.
- Inform RDA of relevant outcomes and how they will be sustained
- Participate in plenaries, including facilitation of WG/IG meetings and participation in TAB/WG/IG chairs meeting (schedule permitting)
Reporting on Outcomes and Adoption Activities:
- Lead the development and distribution of reports to RDA members on outcomes produced from WG and IG activities
- Report out at plenaries on outputs and outcomes
- Conduct outreach to outside organizations and members to gain support on outputs
- For WGs, communicate to members the importance of adoption of deliverables and together with group members, actively look for adopters