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RDA Outputs Policy

  • Creator
  • #138719

    Mark Parsons

    Approved by Council 28 April 2014. Formal published version at

    This Policy is under review as of October 2020. Licensing information changed 5 Oct 2020.


    The purpose of this policy is to advance the goals of Research Data Alliance (RDA) and to encourage adoption of RDA principles and outputs. The goal of the RDA is to accelerate international data-driven innovation and discovery by facilitating research data sharing and exchange. RDA Working Groups (WG) develop, adopt, and deploy infrastructure, policy, practice, standards, and other deliverables to advance this goal. They operate under RDA principles of openness, consensus-based decision making, balanced representation, technical neutrality, harmonization across communities and technologies, and a non-profit approach.

    This policy seeks to:

    1. clarify what outputs are produced by and associated with RDA,
    2. clarify the rights of RDA members and the overall organization around these outputs, and
    3. create an environment that facilitates the adoption and sustainability of the outputs.

    In general, RDA encourages that any outputs associated with RDA be fully open and broadly shared in accordance with the Norms for contributing to and using RDA products. This creates a more adaptable and robust infrastructure.

    This policy is approved and maintained by the RDA Council. A subsidiary document, the Process and Criteria for RDA Recommendations, is maintained by the Secretariat. Both documents are supported by the Norms for contributing to and using RDA products which, as norms not policy, are intended to be maintained as a community document.

    Types of outputs associated with RDA

    RDA produces diverse outputs through its WGs, Interest Groups (IGs), and other groups including the TAB, OAB, Council, Secretariat, and ad hoc Task Forces (collectively, “Groups”). WGs, in particular, produce a wide variety of documents, models, tools, prototypes, etc. We consider four broad classifications of outputs.

    Discussion Documents (DD) are documents and related materials produced during the conduct of RDA activity–they might include background documents, meeting notes, initial results and prototypes, slides, and graphics, etc.. It is up to the Groups whether these documents will be made available to everyone via the RDA Web site, but they are not formal or official RDA statements. WGs and IGs must keep the records of their work open to RDA membership.
    RDA Policies, Working Group Case Statements, and Interest Group Charters are official, operational RDA documents maintained by the RDA Secretariat and approved by Council (e.g., this document). These specific documents are addressed by another RDA Document Publication Policy and are kept in a special repository.
    RDA Recommendations are the official endorsed results of RDA. Recommendations undergo formal phases of discussion, comment, and decision taking. Recommendations are documents in a very broad sense and may include specifications, taxonomies or ontologies, workflows, schemas, data models, etc. They must, however, meet certain criteria to be adopted and endorsed as RDA outputs including being made publicly available and usable. RDA Recommendations are distinctly labeled as such and are stored in a special place managed by the Secretariat.
    Implementations are services, tools, code, registries, APIs, etc. that demonstrate and make use of RDA DDs and Recommendations.

    Output status, review, and approval.

    Discussion Documents need no review. Anything an RDA member has rights to and feels advances the work of RDA may be posted on the open RDA web site (e.g. within an WG or IG space). Discussion Documents are available to the entire membership under a general Creative Commons Attribution Only 4.0 license (CC-BY). Discussion Documents published on the RDA Web site need to have a value for and be maintained by a WG, IG, or other RDA group. Groups may define their own publishing criteria.
    RDA Policies, Case Statements, and Charters are available under the default CC-BY 4.0 license. Formal processes are addressed in the Document Publication Policy.
    Implementations are the responsibility of the person(s) or organization(s) hosting them. RDA does not maintain or formally endorse these products. They are, however, reviewed in the sense that they may have been proposed as part of a WG Case Statement, and TAB, Council, or the membership may have made suggestions to improve how the Implementations advance the work of RDA. Further, to foster open interoperability and wide-spread adoption, RDA strongly encourages that these Implementations be made available as openly as possible. RDA promotes the use and broader adoption of products that adhere to RDA principles. RDA generally recommends open source licenses from the BSD family or similarly permissive licenses where possible.
    RDA Recommendations undergo formal review as endorsed Recommendations of RDA as defined in the Process and Criteria for RDA Recommendations . They are produced by WGs and IGs where robust consensus and transparency are basic principles. The Technical Advisory Board (TAB) shall have a chance to comment on draft versions and give advice on whether the content fits with the technical intentions of RDA. Finally, the Council needs to assert whether the document was developed and shared in accordance with the vision, principles, and processes of RDA. Recommendations must be open for public use and adoption. The default license should be the Creative Commons Attribution Only 4.0 license (CC-BY). RDA strongly encourages users and contributors of RDA Recommendations to adhere to Norms for contributing to and using RDA products.

    RDA does not hold patents. Anyone contributing to an RDA Recommendation must disclose any known patent or any known pending patent application they hold that may restrict the open use of the RDA Recommendation. If the patent holder does not allow unrestricted use of the patented material, the material may not be part of an RDA Recommendation.



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