Open Data Surveys: emerging findings, geographic coverage, user interests and converging questions

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26 Jun 2019
Group(s) submitting the application: 
Meeting objectives: 

In the meeting we aim to follow up on the three lines of action we have been pursuing to achieve the objectives outlined in our charter. These activities are taking place in parallel and include:

  1. Convene User Communities:
  • Our recent efforts to analyze the geographic distribution of open data survey respondents have shown that the Global South is underrepresented. This is an important gap to address given that there is clear interest in open science and open data in these regions. Organizations such as the African Open Science Platform, which is connected to our IG since the 12th RDA Plenary, are championing open data in many underrepresented countries and as part of this objective we aim to develop a better understanding of their specific needs and perspectives.
  • The main question we seek to answer with this objective is “What does the African Open Science Platform want to achieve with their survey?” By posing this question to fellow RDA members, we hope to promote dialogue around how to better design surveys bearing the local contexts in which they are used in mind.


  1. Develop a community-designed modular and interoperable open survey(s):
  • During our IG kick off session in Botswana, we met with many interested people from diverse professional backgrounds that were interested in open data surveys. We can divide those interested people into two groups: RDA-internal and RDA-external.
    • RDA-internal groups are sending surveys out regularly. The IG will collect these surveys, and use their RDA page as an avenue to share results openly.
    • Many people that follow our IG have already pointed out that different questionnaires exist. To improve survey design and facilitate comparisons, we will align questionnaires by harmonizing the wording used in questions that need to be answered to develop open data policies. Furthermore, we will communicate more systematically with the RDA-internal groups through the website and share findings that emerge from our own survey efforts. Currently we are aware of the following RDA surveys been sent out:
    • For those in the RDA-external group we are currently updating the contact lists and will inform them of the content/material on open data surveys we have obtained to date through our IG website.
    • As part of our ongoing recruitment efforts, we aim to engage specifically  with funders and policy makers, as they well-positioned to translate survey findings into policies that support open data practices.
  • In our Horizon scanning exercise, we have identified and collected results from a number of open data surveys, many of which were held at least twice (see 3.).  Some of these were used as input to and comparison material of national surveys. Translating surveys in national language (as shown in the Japanese user case) and survey contexts that are appropriate showed that questions can be broadly categorized along key topics.
  • The main questions we seek to answer as part of our survey design objective is “what are similarities and differences in topics addressed in open data surveys?”. As part of this, we also want to compare what indicators are used to measure uptake of survey results and identify key value drivers for open data surveys in different groups of stakeholders (including policy makers, funders and scientific publishers).


  1. Determine how such open survey(s) could be implemented and results analyzed globally:
  • Given that members of this IG are generating open data survey results, we have taken it upon ourselves to make these results openly available in an easily discoverable repository that facilitates data visualization. To that gain, we have partnered with the online tool SuAVE housed at the San Diego Super Computer Center
  • We are currently running a trial on uploading existing data from a survey carried out by a scientific publisher. Our hope is that by proving templates and platforms through which group members can easily upload their data, we will make survey results more comparable; facilitate benchmarking and foster collaborations on longitudinal studies.
  • In taking this coordinate approach, we will be able to upload the questionnaires produced as part of objective 2 to further support harmonized survey questionnaires.
  • The Austrian use case that we presented in the 12th Plenary meeting demonstrated how policymakers can benefit from using open data surveys to inform policy interventions. We will continue mapping the results of the combined surveys acquired through this IG and highlight useful cases that outline specific geographic contexts (as discussed in objective 1) and focused interventions by stakeholders (e.g. funders, policy makers, or professionals in HEI’s and research institutes).

The main question we aim to answer as part of this objective is “how can mapping exercises be translated in policy relevant information and subsequent interventions?”. This a crucial element of translating survey results into action and much like the questionnaires, additional effort is required to make sure those championing open data are equipped to translate results into policy decisions.

Meeting agenda: 

Collaborative session notes:


The 90 minute session has the following agenda

1. Introduction of IG and update of progress on tasks – 10 minutes

2. Demonstration of online SuAVE tool  - 10 minutes

Online contribution from Ilya Zaslavsky, who developed the tool

3. Input from other RDA surveys, e.g. Marta Teperek (TU Delft) and James Wilson (10 min)

4. Q&A from audience – 10 minutes

5. Geographic mapping of surveys, demonstration of results – 10 minutes

6. Session with the African Open Science Platform on specific local needs (including interaction with audience) – 15 minutes

7. Clusters of questions and topics having a funder or policy relevance – 10 minutes

We aim to invite a person with a Nordic perspective, and include our group participants in the discussion.

8. Response from RDA internal participants, funders, policy and professionals – 10 minutes

9. Closing and next half year – 5 minutes


Target Audience: 

- We expect the RDA members that have sent out surveys in the last year to come and share their perspectives on how to better use survey material to support open data

- We expect enthusiastic representatives from the African continent to follow up on their expression of interest from the 12th Plenary in Botswana.

- We also expect representatives from our stakeholder communities, many of which are already members of our IG that will want to specify their needs in more detail.

Group chair serving as contact person: 
Brief introduction describing the activities and scope of the group: 

Activities: The co-chairs organized an IG meeting at the 12th Plenary in Gaborone, Botswana. This was the launch of the endorsed IG Charter for Surveying Open data practices and raised a lot of interest from the RDA community. The kick off meeting included a summary of survey results from scientific publishers, comparison of survey designs (to design a new one in Japan) and user cases by national policymakers (Austria, African open Science Platform) and funders. Clearly there was also an internal RDA interest, as various IGs and WGs employ surveys as well. The activities and responses from this session will our proposed activities for the plenary in Helsinki.

Scope: The aims of the Interest Group according to the Charter are to 1) convene user communities; 2) develop community-designed modular and interoperable open surveys; and 3) determine how such open surveys can be implemented and results analyzed globally. These three lines are being pursued in parallel to develop more coordinated approaches to carrying out open data surveys. We seek to encourage comparative analysis of existing surveys in terms of their design, scope and findings. Through such analyses, we will promote a discussion on opportunities to develop modular and interoperable open survey(s) that interested stakeholders could use track changes in practice over time and promote policy learning.

Rationale: We are in a period of experimentation where open data policy statements by government agencies, research funders, research organizations, professional societies and publishers are becoming commonplace. While these statements share the goal of making research data open, incentives, institutional settings and infrastructure capabilities differ strongly among different stakeholders and ultimately drive the pace of change.

As open data policies are implemented and data sharing practices evolve, comprehensive benchmarking and tracking of open data practices can serve to illuminate advances in data sharing (where and by whom), and help understand the reasons for different data sharing practices. We are experiencing the first wave of survey reports and are starting to see the gaps between policy and research practices. Some data sharing surveys provide insight into how policy and practice might be bridged but the granularity of surveys, their comparability and uneven geographical coverage needs to be addressed.


Short Group Status: 

Our IG has been endorsed in 2018. The 12th Plenary in Gaborone was our first meeting. This is the first sessions where we present deleiverables of our Group

Type of Meeting: 
Working meeting
Avoid conflict with the following group (1): 
Avoid conflict with the following group (2):