Dear RDA Community Members,
It has been a while since we have issued an update on the "Business of RDA”, with a specific focus on the operational and governance plans and activities of RDA Global (represented by the RDA Foundation), but that does not mean that we have not been busy. I am delighted to give you a few updates on the happenings over the past months. There are many things to be grateful for, one of them being, the amazing, vibrant and passionate community that you are. This has been very evident via the many activities that have been conducted, for example, adoption week, the virtual plenary sessions. webinars, on-line group events and, of coures, the RDA community response to COVID-19.
If you have any questions about these or any other RDA governance updates, please feel free to contact me
Hilary Hanahoe, Secretary-General, Research Data Alliance
The Final publication of the RDA COVID19 Recommendations and Guidelines for Data Sharing is planned for 30 June 2020.
In late March, RDA received a direct request from one of our funders, the European Commission, to create global guidelines and recommendations for data sharing under COVID-19 circumstances. In an unusual (top down) call to action, I asked the RDA and broader community to respond, and they did in a phenomenal and amazing way. Over 600 data professionals and domain experts signed up and began work in early April 2020. They have worked tirelessly to produce a rich set of detailed guidelines to help researchers and data stewards follow best practices to maximise the efficiency of their work, and to act as a blueprint for future emergencies; coupled with recommendations to help policymakers and funders to maximise timely, quality data sharing and appropriate responses in such health emergencies. This work, executed in an intense period over just over 6 weeks, with five iterations (https://doi.org/10.15497/rda00046), all of which were opened for community comment, was a trojan community effort and ALL conducted under the RDA guiding principles of Openness, Consensus, Balance, Harmonization, Community-driven, and Non-profit and technology-neutral.
In May 2020, RDA was pleased to support the TRUST Principles for digital repositories, offering guidance for maintaining the trustworthiness of digital repositories, especially those responsible for the stewardship of research data. These guidelines are part of the work done by the RDA/WDS Certification of Digital Repositories Interest group. Since the launch of the statement we are delighted more than 10 additional organisations have endorsed the principles. To find out more and endorse visit The TRUST Principles for Digital Repositories - https://www.rd-alliance.org/rda-community-effort-trust-principles-digital-repositories
Other RDA Joint Statements, including the Data Together and Record Management statements are available at https://www.rd-alliance.org/news-media/joint-statements
The European Open Science Policy Platform (OSPP), of which RDA has been an active, invited member since its inception in 2014, published their final report in May 2020. On page 12, in reference to the conclusion to set up a “OSPP registry of pilots and implementations of responsible metrics” note “To this end, we are working towards the development of a structured registry (similar in nature to clinicaltrials.gov to ensure full searchability), initiated and shaped by the OSPP and coordinated by the Research Data Alliance (RDA)”. I am currently actively seeking funding, for the RDA Foundation ASBL (BE) initially from the European commission to begin this work, which will have a global perspective.
The European Council Conclusions on Shaping Europe's Digital Future, approved on 9 June 2020, states that “open science principles and Research Data Alliance recommendations are useful for supporting the decision-making authorities in promoting a flexible common approach for the collection, processing and availability of data” and welcomes this in the context of the development of EOSC. This is a very significant occurrence and a very important recognition from one of the highest European Union bodies of the work of RDA.
Finally, in preparation for the new European Union funding framework, a Proposal for a European partnership under European Commission’s Horizon Europe funding programme focusing on European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) Partnership was launched at the end of May and states “The Research Data Alliance (RDA) has become a recognised actor in the development of standards and good practices for managing research data. […] Many EOSC-projects have already taken concrete initiatives to partner with these organisations and to participate in RDA Working Groups. These relationships will be extended as EOSC reaches new milestones.” A further recognition of the importance of the global RDA community contribution to the European research and open science arena.
It has been a hectic period for all the governance boards but a particular tribute should be paid to the Secretariat who, under normal circumstances invest a huge amount of time and resources into organising the plenary meetings.
- For the 15th Plenary meeting, there were many contingency plans developed and elaborated given the uncertainty around travel to Australia due to the terrible bushfires and then, the Coronavirus outbreak. None of those contingency plans covered the complete cancellation and set up of a 3 ½ week virtual plenary meeting though. Despite the end of the event over three months ago, significant effort has been invested to generate a complete online record of the virtual plenary, as well as a comprehensive Lessons learnt document and a remote session guide.
- RDA 16th Virtual Plenary Meeting Call for Sessions Launched.
In early June, the secretariat recently launched the call for breakout sessions and it is open until 4 August 2020. The Secretariat together with the P16 local organizing committee are investigating the most efficient and effective technology platform to run the virtual plenary meeting. If feasible, a small, local, physical presence will be facilitated by the Costa Ricans.
- Future RDA Plenary meetings, as always the Secretariat is involved in the organisation of multiple events simultaneously, in addition to the 16th RDA Plenary Meeting, 9-12 November 2020, the 17th RDA Plenary Meeting, April 2021 in Edinburgh, Scotland and IDW 2021 (International Data Week co-organised by RDA, CODATA and WDS and incorporates 18th RDA Plenary Meeting), 8-11 November 2021 in Seoul, Republic of Korea are in full planning mode. And watch out for an upcoming IDW2023 announcement - See https://www.rd-alliance.org/plenary-meetings/future-plenaries for more details.
- RDA Adoption Week: The wonderful RDA Secretariat successfully organised a complete week of RDA adoption sessions focusing on the different categories of the RDA Outputs Catalogue. A total of 10 webinars (two per day) were organised from 15 – 19 June, aiming to offer different time zones the opportunity to attend. All webinars were recorded and are available on the RDA web platform.
For further details on RDA Secretariat see https://rd-alliance.org/about-rda/our-leadership/rda-secretariat.html
As an international organization pursuing the aims of Open Science, the RDA Council formulated an in-depth response to the UNESCO Global Consultation on Open Science, providing feedback on many different aspects of the development of the UNESCO Open Science Recommendation. This response was submitted on 15 June 2020.
The 2020 slate of candidates for the RDA Council was approved by the RDA membership and Joyce Gosata Maphanyane from the University of Botswana has been welcomed. Both Sandra Collins and Edit Herczog were re-nominated and elected for a second term. Helen Kay Raseroka, stepped down from Council following two three year terms. Kay has been truly instrumental in RDA community building on the African continent and she was the champion of the RDA Plenary in Botswana, one of the most successful plenaries the RDA has seen with such marvelous African participation. Kay, on behalf of the RDA community, we cannot thank you enough for serving the RDA for so many years and we hope to keep you as one of the RDA family for many years to come.
The Council face to face meeting, planned for 16th March 2020 in Melbourne, took place in two 4 hour virtual sessions on 17th & 19th March. The presence of all 9 Council members and the 5 non-voting consensus forming members meant there was, once again, a full house. Points for discussion included the financial status of the RDA Foundation, changes and recommendations for the RDA governing documents, regional engagement and the proposal for a new RDA group, Communities of Practice. Council also met in a virtual meeting on 7th May. The next council meeting, focusing on the definition of the RDA Strategic plan 2020-2023, will take place from 24-26 June 2020. It was originally scheduled at the National Library of Ireland, hosted by Dr. Sandra Collins, Director NLI. The strategic meeting will go ahead with Council members from across the globe, using a virtual platform. For more details on RDA Council including meeting minutes visit https://rd-alliance.org/about-rda/our-leadership/rda-council.html
RDA Organisational Assembly (OA) and Organisational Advisory Board (OAB)
Organisational Members provide an organisational perspective of RDA, influence its direction, and assist in the implementation and adoption of RDA’s Recommendations. For many global organisations, RDA is a vehicle to help incorporate data sharing technologies. See the list of Organisational and Affiliate members.
In 2020 the OAB have held three open and one closed meeting:
- Organisational Assembly meeting (pre-P15 OA) 9 March 2020 (telcon) - Draft minutes.
- Closed OAB meeting (9th OAB private meeting) 7 April 2020 (telcon)
- OAB meeting (open to all Organisational Members) 12 May (telcon) - Draft minutes.
- OAB meeting (open to all Organisational Members) 18 June (telcon) - Draft minutes.
The F2F P15 OA meetings (open OA and closed OAB) were cancelled due the Covid-19 pandemic.
The main outcomes of the last meetings were the following:
New OAB composition
Following the 2020 OAB elections, the composition of the OAB has been updated, including the election of a new co-Chair.
New OAB Co-chair
Following three years of very active service, Amy Nurnberger has stepped down as OAB co-chair. I am pleased to welcome Rebecca Koskela as the new OAB co-chair. On behalf of the RDA community, I would very much like to thank Amy for her dedication, passion, expertise and leadership during her time as OAB co-chair. She advocated for and brought the voice of the Organisational Members to the table, injecting many great ideas to the discussions. We are grateful to Amy for her service to the community and for staying on OAB.
OA role in adoption/usability of RDA outputs
The role of the OA in providing comments on the potential adoptability/usability of outputs of new RDA WGs and the adoption/usability of RDA outputs was discussed during the April closed OAB and May open OAB meetings. The outcome of the meetings was that the OAB will continue to play this role, taking advantage of the diverse set of Organisational Members present in the OA, with diverse expertise and viewpoints. To make the commenting process more appealing, new approaches will be sought in the coming period, such as “pitching” RDA Recommendations during the OAB meetings, presenting adoption cases or assigning voluntary OA liaisons to new WGs. During the May OAB meeting, Shelley Stall “pitched” the FAIR Data Maturity Model specification and guidelines recommendation.
Next period focus
The OAB also discussed the focal topics for the upcoming period coming up with a list of points, namely RDA sustainability including review membership fees and the mode of operation of the RDA plenaries. In addition, the RDA governance documents, including the OAB process document will be updated.
Regular activities of the Organisational Assembly include the following:
- Communicating open job positions in your organisation to whole RDA community (Exclusive to Organisational Members)
- Extending early-bird reduced Plenary registration fees for all Organisational Members through to the start of the Plenary (Exclusive to Organisational Members)
- Providing comments to both new groups and RDA outputs with focus on adoptability/ ease of use: https://www.rd-alliance.org/group/rda-organisational-assembly/wiki/role-oa-expert-commentary-and-adoptability-process-and-tools
- OAB co-chairs participating in RDA Council as ex-officio members, bringing the OA perspective into the Council decisions. RDA OAB is also represented in the RDA Council sub-committees and task forces, such as the ones on RDA Finances and reviewing RDA Memberships.
- Providing an internal newsletter to Organisational Members with news about groups, outputs, adoption and other RDA general news.
RDA Technical Advisory Board (TAB)
Following the TAB elections in 2019, Isabelle Perseil was elected as co-chair to work alongside Andrew Treloar who is acting as interim co-chair until November 2021.
For further details on TAB members please visit https://www.rd-alliance.org/about-rda/our-leadership/rda-technical-advisory-board.html
- Call for Nominations for the RDA Technical Advisory Board (TAB) 2020
RDA is seeking candidates for the annual TAB election, to be held in November 2020. TAB Terms are for three (3) years. We encourage participation from RDA members at all stages of their careers. Please note that current members of RDA’s Council, Secretariat, and Organisational Advisory Board are not eligible for TAB membership.
Nominations will be accepted until 23:59 UTC on 1 October 2020. Please see the RDA web site for more detail.
- 15th Plenary Meeting support
In early 2020 TAB completed the review of the P15 session proposals which included requests for 38 Group sessions, 10 Joint Meeting sessions and 19 BoF sessions. With the move to a virtual plenary, TAB continued with their work and assisted the Groups in moving to the online domain. Virtual P15 had a programme with 27 Group sessions, 6 Joint sessions and 11 BoF sessions.
- New Groups
During the first 6 months of the year five new Groups were proposed and are being reviewed by TAB.