September 10, 2013 Version of Case Statement

Research Data Alliance (RDA)

Marine Data Management Working Group (RDA-Marine Data)

Case Statement

1.  WG Charter

The RDA Marine Data Group (RDA-MarineData) is a collaborative effort to support and promote the development of a common global framework for the management of marine data. This has become a priority as ocean sciences are being becoming increasingly global in scope and there has been a paradigm shift in marine research from the traditional discipline based approach towards more multi-disciplinary, ecosystem level research. This approach is necessary to address a number of phenomena both natural and man-made, the impacts of which require researchers from a diverse range of disciplines to work together. A prerequisite for this type of multidisciplinary research is the availability of large volumes of good quality interoperable data which can be easily located and accessed. Facilitating the re-use of marine data is therefore a priority within this domain as the need for datasets increases to support the development of this ecosystem based approach to marine research.

RDA-Marine Data is a science-domain focused working group, which will actively promote and implement RDA recommended approaches relevant to marine data and metadata within an existing interoperable network of data centres and repositories. This will provide input and feedback from active researchers/stakeholders from RDA member countries to improve the maturity and robustness of the specifications and recommendations of other RDA Working Groups -- while at the same time improving science within the marine scientific research domain.

RDA-MarineData has the following objectives:

  • Promote the development of a common global framework for the management of marine data
  • Make available a large volume of good quality interoperable data which can be easily located and accessed
  • Promote common data standards and tools to enable conformity of data to these standards
  • Engage with the global marine science community to promote interoperability

2. Value proposition

2.1 Key impacts of the RDA Marine Data working group

A common global framework for the management of marine data will underpin a multidisciplinary, ecosystem level approach to marine research. It will allow users to access best practice for managing a range of marine data types and facilitate wider re-use of existing marine data.

To achieve this objective the RDA-MarineData aims to:

  • Promote the development of a common global framework for the management of marine data
  • Improve the discovery and access a large volume of good quality interoperable data which can be easily located and accessed.
  • Promote common data standards and tools to enable conformity of data to these standards
  • Engage with the global marine science community to promote interoperability

RDA-MarineData activities will have tangible measurable impacts, including:

  • number of active interest/working group members
  • number of documents/exemplars produced and adopted by the members of the group and also the wider user community
  • number of documents/exemplars downloaded by users
  •  level of interaction with other RDA interest/working groups including dissemination and adoption of outcomes/deliverables within the marine data management community

2.2 Individuals, communities and initiatives that will benefit from the RDA Marine Data working group:

  • Marine scientists will be have improved access to standardised high quality data in a useable from multiple sources and use these in combination for the purposes of multidisciplinary marine research. Researchers will also benefit from the application of the RDA working group best practices etc. for various aspects of data management at the repositories holding data sets of interest for their research.
  • Data repository and research infrastructure managers will have access to best practice for the management of marine data and other case studies developed by the RDA Marine Data working group as well as other RDA working groups.
  • Data scientists will be able to deliver data in standardised formats using agreed common standards. This will facilitate the exchange and re-use of marine data in the long-term.
  • Other RDA working groups will be able to benefit from an existing network of data repositories that are willing to provide experience-based feedback about data repositories implementing a common global framework for the management of marine data based on concepts developed within other RDA working groups. The MarineData IG will also seek to contribute to relevant activities undertaken by other IG/WGs where there is benefit to the stated objectives of the respective groups.

3.  Engagement with existing work in the area

Many of the key national and international marine data management initiatives are represented in the initial membership of the marine data group. These initiatives, described below, are already working on data/metadata sharing services based in areas that other RDA working groups are focused on (linked-data, community vocabularies, employment of unique identifiers, etc) and  have agreed to dedicate staff to review  the potential adoption of the RDA working group recommendations.

These marine data oriented initiatives include: Rolling Deck to Repository (Bob Arko, USA), WHOI Underwater Ocean Imagery Informatics (Andrew Maffei, USA), NSF Biological and Chemical Data Management Office (Cyndy Chandler, USA), Ocean Drilling Program (Doug Fils, USA), ODIP (Helen Glaves, Europe), IMOS (Roger Proctor, Australia), SeaDataNet (Dick Schaap, Europe), IODE (Peter Pissierssens, International) and iMarine (Donatella Castelli, Europe)

Below is a short description of these initiatives and their potential contributions to the RDA-MarineData working group effort.

  • ODIP - The Ocean Data Interoperability Platform project is a co-funded EU-USA-Australia initiative promoting the development of interoperability between existing regional e-infrastructures to support effective sharing and re-use of marine data across scientific domains and international boundaries. The ODIP partnership includes all the major organisations and initiatives engaged in ocean data management in Europe, USA, and Australia, and it is also supported by the IOC/IODE. The project is developing prototypes to evaluate and test selected potential common standards and interoperability solutions. ODIP will contribute directly to the RDA efforts in the area of marine data and also promote the outcomes of a number of the relevant RDA working groups.
  • SeaDataNet - (Need input from Dick Schaap)
  • R2R - (Need input from Bob Arko)
  • IMOS - The Australian Integrated Marine Observing System is a federally-funded research infrastructure program. IMOS is designed to be a fully integrated national array of observing equipment to monitor the open oceans and coastal marine environment around Australia, covering physical, chemical and biological variables. All IMOS data is freely and openly available through the IMOS Ocean Portal for the benefit of Australian marine and climate science as a whole. Marine data and information are the main products of IMOS, and data management is therefore a central element to the project's success. The eMarine Information Infrastructure Facility of IMOS provides a single integrative framework for data and information management that allows discovery and access of the data by scientists, managers and the public. Wherever possible recognised (e.g. OGC, ISO) standards are adopted to describe the data and metadata and web service delivery.
  • IODE - (Need input from Peter P)
  • iMarine - (input needed form Donatella)
  • BCDMO - (input needed from Cyndy C)

In addition other more general data initiatives will also be consulted and contribute to the RDA marine data group. These include: DataONE (USA), COOPEUS (Europe), Australian National Data Service (ANDS), Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO, Australia), EUDAT (Europe), EPOS (Europe) and EMODNET-Geology (Europe)

The RDA Marine Data IG activities will also seek to contribute to the activities and outcomes from the other RDA work and interest groups where these have direct relevance for the management of marine data. The RDA Marine Data group will also promote the adoption and implementation of the outcomes from the other RDA interest and working groups across the stakeholders in the marine domain.

The existing RDA WG and IG groups that the RDA MarineData group have identified as having objectives that are applicable for the management of marine data are:

  • Working Groups (WG)
    • Data Citation
    • Data Foundation and Terminology
    • Data type Registries
    • Metadata Standards
    • PID Information Types
    • Standardisation of Data
  • Interest Groups (IG)
    • Big Data Analytics
    • Brokering
    • Data in Context
    • Legal interoperability
    • Metadata standards directory
    • Preservation e-infrastructure
    • Publishing data
    • Engagement Group

4. Work plan

Given the rather short time frame of 12-18 months, the RDA-MarineData will seek to leverage on the activities of related initiatives such as ODIP as well as on those of the other RDA working groups.

a.  Milestones and intermediate documentation and deliverables

  Activity Deliverable
1 An initial group of marine data / metadata providers will be identified who are willing to assess and provide feedback on the implementation of the solutions being worked on by both the RDA Marine Data IG as well as those from other RDA working groups which are relevant for the management of marine data types. Agreement will be sought from a representative group of marine data repositories who are willing to contribute to the activities of the RDA Marine Data interest group.
2 A review and assessment of the state of the art of current standards, formats, vocabularies and best practices currently in use for marine data management within the RDA-Marine Data membership will be conducted. An initial report will be produced which documents the results of this review
3 A further review of those standards, formats, vocabularies etc. will be conducted to determine which of those identified are sufficiently mature and robust to be adopted as potential ‘community standards’. 

Individual RDA WG members willing to attempt the adoption these community standards will be identified.
A report including lessons learnt will be produced based on the experience of these WG members.




b.  Final Deliverables

  Activity Deliverable
1 Final documentation supporting the adoption of these standards and best practice for the management of marine data will be drafted.

A report documenting the ‘community standards’ and best practice adopted by the IG will be produced.

This will be disseminated to the wider community for feedback.


Existing related initiatives and other community forums will be used to consult with users in order to extend and or modify these standards and best practice.

Additional user forums will be established where these do not already exist to ensure engagement with stake holders in the marine domain and to ensure that the RDA MarineData IG process is fully inclusive.

A final revised set of documentation with modifications based on the feedback received from the user community will be drafted and disseminated as widely as possible.

The RDA forums will be used to promote discussion on the deliverables and for the dissemination of the documents produced by the RDA Marine Data IG

3 A final RDA Marine Data IG deliverable will include a use case describing the implementation of an RDA Working Group recommended standard or best practice by a marine data repository. A report describing how a recommended RDA working group standard, best practise of solution has been implemented by a marine data repository and used by a researcher to do ‘real’ science’

c. Mode and Frequency of Operation

  • Communication by e-mail as often as needed with a bi-weekly check in on progress as a minimum.
  • Bi-monthly virtual meetings via Skype and/or teleconferencing.
  • Use of online collaboration tools (e.g., Google Drive), file-sharing systems, wikis, and other electronic means of asynchronous communication.
  • Additional communication sessions will be scheduled as needed.

d. Group dynamics and management

​The RDA-MarineData is modelled upon three principles that ensure that the group makes progress, resolves conflicts, stays on track and within scope:

  • Rough consensus - the dominant view prevails; the chairs have the right to identify the dominant view.
  • Actionable draft - a practically oriented document that describes goals, implementation steps and deadlines is sufficient for the group or individual members to begin their work.
  • Open review - any member of the group as well as other RDA members may request further discussion or reconsideration of an issue.

e. Broader community engagement and participation

Initially (over the next 6 months) the efforts of the RDA Marine Data interest group will focus on identifying a set of “first-adopter” marine data repositories, researchers and projects that are willing to work with the RDA-MarineData Working Group in order to examine candidate standards, specifications, etc. for adoption and implementation.

This will then be followed by a further 6 month period during which a plan to raise awareness and the impact of the RDA Marine Data WG across the wider marine science data community. During this period the outcomes of the RDA Marine Data WG and other relevant WGs will be promoted to the user communities.

f.  Initial membership

Interest Group Co-chairs:

  • Helen Glaves (NERC-BGS, UK,,
  • Peter Pissierssens (IODE, International,
  • Roger Proctor (IMOS, Australia (,
  • Donatella Castelli
  • Enrique Alonso Garcia
  • Andrew Maffei (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, USA)

Initial membership:

  • Steve Miller, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, USA
  • Bob Arko, R2R, US

Others who expressed interest in being part of the group once it is established:

  • Andrew Treloar (ANDS, Australia)
  • Cyndy Chandler ( BCO-DMO, USA)
  • Jay Pearlman (IEEE, USA)
  • Dick Schaap (MARIS, Netherlands)
  • Lesley Wyborn (Geosciences Australia)