Working Group Goals and Outcomes


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This webpage provides an overview for Working Group Goals, Working Group Outcomes,  and the Working Group Recommendations Review Process. Please note that the documents herein are a work in progress. We want people to work through these guidelines and to provide constructive feedback on their usefulness.  Please contact us with your feedback.

Working Group Goals and Outcomes

Goals of RDA Working Groups

RDA Working Groups should tangibly accelerate progress in concrete ways for specific communities with the overarching goal of increasing data-driven innovation. RDA Working Group (WG) efforts are intended to promote data sharing and exchange, interoperability, data use and re-use, data discoverability and analysis, data stewardship and preservation, and best practice for substantive communities.

Although Working Group outcomes will vary, RDA Working Groups should strive for “focused effort and tangible progress”. This can be interpreted as encouraging

  • “Harvestable” efforts for which roughly 12-18 months of work can eliminate a roadblock for a substantial community focused on innovation.
  • Efforts that have substantive applicability to particular segments of the data community, but may not apply to everyone.
  • Efforts where working scientists and researchers can start today to get something done now, while more long-term or far-reaching solutions are being appropriately discussed through other vehicles.

In addition to the shorter-term, outcome-oriented focus of the RDA Working Groups described herein, critical longer-term R&D efforts, supported by Government sponsors, the Private Sector, and others, must continue to promote innovation and discovery. The Research Data Alliance Working Group process is meant to complement those efforts in the short-term by removing existing roadblocks, and accelerating forward progress for working scientists and researchers.

Because of the short life-span for Working Groups (12-18 months), any issues of Intellectual Property, and relevant national or international law, policy, or regulation must be well-understood and addressed up- front.

Working Group Outcomes

Working group outcomes should facilitate tangible progress towards innovation for a significant cohort within the international data community. There are many ways to make progress and Working Group outcomes may come in a variety of forms including:

  • New data standards or harmonization of existing standards. RDA WGs focusing on standards and harmonization should include specific communities who will benefit from this effort and who will adopt the new or harmonized standards, effectively putting them into “action” at the completion of the Working Group. (RDA is not a standards organization comparable to the ISO for example. It draws on the rough consensus approach of the IETF)
  • Greater data sharing, exchange, interoperability, usability and re-usability. RDA WGs focusing on data sharing, exchange, interoperability, usability, and/or re-usability should evolve or create new infrastructure, tools, technologies, services, approaches, policies, or other vehicles that improve upon current practice for a significant cohort within the data community. Deliverables for this work should be adopted / put into practice by WG members, at the least. 
  • Greater discoverability of research data sets. RDA WGs focusing on data discoverability should evolve or create new infrastructure, tools, technologies, registries, approaches, policies, or other vehicles that facilitate the discoverability of research data beyond current practice for a significant cohort. Deliverables for this work should include adoption of those vehicles. (For these purposes, “research data” is broadly defined to be digital data sets generated or used by the research community)
  • Better management, stewardship, and preservation of research data. RDA WGs focusing on management, stewardship, and preservation should evolve or create practice, policy, infrastructure, and/or other appropriate vehicles, and facilitate their adoption/implementation within Working Group institutions and organizations and beyond.

The RDA Outputs and Intellectual Property Policy outlines several types of outputs from Working and Interest Groups:

  • Working Group Case Statements, and Interest Group Charters
  • Discussion Documents
  • Implementations
  • RDA Recommendations

Information on Case Statements and Charters and their review process can be found on the Group Processes and Procedures page. 

Discussion Documents include anything an RDA member has rights to and feels advances the work of RDA. They are not formal RDA documents and do not need any review.

Implementations are services, tools, code, registries, APIs, etc. that demonstrate and make use of RDA DDs and Recommendations. They do not need any review, either, but RDA maintains a record of implementations so that other RDA members can find out about them

RDA Recommendations are a core output of an RDA Working or Interest Group. Recommendations have to address the criteria listed in <link to Recommendations Review Criteria document>. They must also contain a sustainability plan outlining how the recommendation will be maintained after the group terminates.

RDA Recommendations undergo a formal review process (see Figure 1) similar to that of Working Group Case Statements and Interest Group Charters to become endorsed Recommendations of RDA as defined in the  Criteria for RDA Working Group Recommendations document. Recommendations must be open for public use and adoption.

Figure 1: Recommendations Review Process

  1. The group develops the Recommendation, and the group chair sends the Recommendation (1) to enquiries [at] The group chair then posts the Recommendation as an RFC in the WG's Organic Group. The Secretariat will also notify the TAB, Council, and the broader community that the document has been posted and is now ready for community review.
  2. The community will be given at least four weeks to review and comment on the Recommendation.
  3. At the end of the community review phase, the group should revise the Recommendation, if significant comments have been made, and post the revised document in its RDA Discussion Group.
  4. The document is then reviewed by TAB.
  5. Council reviews the Recommendation. Council seeks to ensure that the outcomes of the groups are well aligned with the RDA mission and principles, and that they address the criteria for Recommendations outlined in the Criteria for RDA Working Group Recommendations document. Council will make one of four possible decisions about a Recommendation:
  • Recognized and Endorsed as is: Strong Recommendation. Recommendation is recognized and endorsed by RDA.
  • Recognized and endorsed subject to specific revisions: Some changes need to be made to strengthen the Recommendation and meet approval criteria. After the document has been modified, the Recommendation will be recognized and endorsed by RDA.
  • Encouraged but not presently endorsed: The group needs to refine its Recommendation for approval. Council and/or TAB will provide specific feedback and clarification on what is needed.
  • Not endorsed: The Recommendation does not meet the criteria for approval. Council will provide specific feedback and clarification.
  1. The group’s Secretariat liaison will notify the group of the review outcomes and inform the group who will be working with them on any remaining issues. If the Recommendation was developed by a Working Group that has already been terminated, the group can be extended for up to 6 months to finalize the Recommendation. The revised Recommendation should then be posted in the relevant Discussion group.
  2. If Council perceives reasonable community consistence on the Recommendation they formally endorse the document.

A recognized and endorsed Recommendation will be actively promoted by TAB and Council.