RDA Business Updates Newsletter - November 2019 Edition

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22 Nov 2019

RDA Business Updates Newsletter - November 2019 Edition

This periodic newsletter provides an update on the “Business of RDA”, with a specific focus on the operational and governance plans and activities of RDA Global.


RDA Council 

Council Face to Face meeting
The RDA Council met on 21st October 2019 in Helsinki, Finland with a very full agenda and a full house - all nine council members and five non-voting consensus forming observers were present. Among the items discussed were the financial status of the RDA Foundation, the status of the Council Task Forces (Membership, Building Bridges), and strategies going forward. Public minutes will be published on the RDA Council web page over the coming weeks.


Call for Council Nominations 2020
In April 2020, Sandra Collins, Edit Herczog, and Helen Kay Raseroka complete their three year term on Council. Both Sandra Collins and Edit Herczog are eligible to be re-nominated for a second term, Helen Kay Raseroka is completing her second term and is not eligible to be re-nominated. The call for Council nominations is now open and interested candidates should review the details, timelines and application procedures at https://www.rd-alliance.org/rda-call-council-nominations-2020.

RDA Foundation Financial Report
The RDA Foundation is a UK non-profit charity that is the legal representative of the RDA community as well as being responsible for the global operations. A public financial report on the RDA Foundation revenue and expenditure for 2018 has been published on the web site. Please visit https://www.rd-alliance.org/get-involved/organisational-membership/rda-organisational-affiliate-members to download a copy of the report.

New RDA Task Forces
During December 2019, the Secretary General will set up two task forces:

  1. RDA Plenary Meeting Assessment Task Force
    This task force will assess the current structure and frequency of the RDA Plenary Meetings and make recommendations to RDA Council on eventual modifications. Before the 14th Plenary meeting, RDA Working & Interest Group co-chairs were invited to provide their feedback and expressions of interest in being involved in the task force. Members are invited to make their suggestions in the google doc by Friday 29th November 23.59 UTC at the latest.
  2. The Work of RDA Task Force
    This task force will assess the processes and procedures in place for RDA members to conduct their work (i.e. through Working and Interest groups) and make recommendations to RDA Council for eventual modifications to the current processes. We already have received feedback and insights from the group co-chairs and this will be taken into consideration when the task force is formed. Updates on the task force will be provided via the RDA Business newsletter over the coming months.


As the TAB 2019 elections have now closed, there are a number of changes to report. Francoise Genova, a long serving co-chair of TAB has reached the end of her term and is stepping down as co-chair in November 2019 and will stay on TAB until 2020. Paul Uhlir, also co-chair of TAB, did not renew his TAB membership and will step down as a TAB member and co-chair in November 2019.


On behalf of the RDA community and the governance bodies, I would like to thank both Francoise and Paul for the dedication, passion, effort and time that they have given to the community in this demanding, volunteer role. Their leadership and support has been very much appreciated and they will be dearly missed.

Given the fact that both co-chairs are stepping down simultaneously, RDA Council and TAB discussed an interim solution to ensure continuity and support for the new and existing TAB members who will be elected as a result of your votes. Andrew Treloar was asked to act as interim TAB co-chair for one year (2019-2020) in an extraordinary decision by Council. Andrew has graciously accepted this role and will start his one year term once the elections are closed and the new TAB composition is announced. Many thanks to Andrew.

As per TAB policies, the second co-chair will be elected by TAB directly keeping in mind a series of different balance criteria. We will inform the community of the new TAB co-chair as soon as it has been defined.

TAB Composition

The newly elected members of the TAB are:

  • Helen Glaves (Europe and Africa), Senior Data Scientist at the British Geological Survey (BGS)
  • Devika Madalli (Asia and Oceania), Professor at the Indian Statistical Institute
  • Anthony Oko-Isu (Europe and Africa), Lecturer Alex Ekwueme Federal University, Nigeria
  • Rob Quick (Americas), Associate Director at the Science Gateways Research Center
  • Sa-kwang Song (Asia and Oceania), Professor at the Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI)

We are very grateful to Tobias Weigel for his dedication and huge contribution during his long term service on TAB.

For more details on TAB visit https://www.rd-alliance.org/about-rda/our-leadership/rda-technical-advisory-board.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.


A little bit of background.

Organisational Assembly (OA) and Organisational Advisory Board (OAB):
All organisations that become RDA organisational members join the Organisational Assembly. The Organisational Advisory Board is a sub-committee of the whole OA, acting as an executive committee representing the interests of the Organisational Members. RDA Affiliate members are special cases and RDA Council only considers them at their off-Plenary meetings; they need to be negotiated on a one-to-one basis and take time and deliberation. RDA has signed MoUs with a number of such Organisations, according to a list of specific criteria. If there is interest from your organisation to become an RDA Organisational Member, please check this page and submit your request via the on-line application forms.


OA(B) recent activities.

The OA had its last meeting on Tuesday 22 October in the framework of the RDA Plenary 14 in Helsinki. The OA discussed the Helsinki Plenary Pathways and how they are being used. The pathways are groupings of RDA plenary sessions per theme, making it is easier for RDA members, especially new, to find their way around the plenaries. OA also Worked on a categorization/clustering of RDA Organisational Members which were finalised at the Helsinki plenary and will be published soon. The main purpose is on one hand to give more visibility to OA members (also via the RDA in a nutshell presentation) and on the other hand to promote the types of organisations that become OA members and encourage others in the same category to join the Organisational Assembly. But also to be able to use the outputs and value statements for a specific category. The RDA value for infrastructure providers produced by the OA was also finalised and published. The next OAB elections were also discussed, to be performed in time for the P15 plenary in Australia (to be announced next month). There are 5 seats for election among the OA members and OA representatives are encouraged to consider nominating themselves. The OAB will also elect at the OA in Australia a new co-Chair among its new members. Updates from the Secretary General, Council and TAB were also provided, along with the progress on the Membership Task Force (a Council subcommittee), discussing and reviewing how RDA and all its memberships/funding streams work.

OA benefits include:

  • Organisational Members can communicate open job positions in their organisation to whole RDA community- (Exclusive to Organisational Members - Use this form)
  • All Organisational Members benefit from extended early-bird reduced Plenary registration fee right through to the start of the Plenary
  • OA are allowed to provide comments to both new groups and RDA outputs with focus on adoptability/ease of use 
  • RDA co-chairs participate in RDA Council as ex-officio members and bring the OA perspective into Council decision making. RDA OAB is also represented in the RDA Council sub-committees and task forces, such as those on RDA finances and reviewing RDA memberships.
  • An internal newsletter provides Organisational Members with news about groups, outputs, adoption and other RDA general news.

RDA Secretariat

RDA Outputs & Adoption Session at 14th Plenary Meeting
The Outputs and Adoption Session, organised during the 14th Plenary Meeting in Helsinki (https://www.rd-alliance.org/plenary-14-adoption-and-outputs-session) on Friday 25th October 2019, offered the community a new format for showcasing RDA outputs and adoption of them. The Secretariat, together with a group of volunteers, including Timea Biro - DRI, and the RDA Domain Ambassadors (https://www.rd-alliance.org/rda-disciplines/rda-europe-ambassadors) organised and facilitated a domain and discipline focused session. The session was an experiment and the overall objective was to showcase RDA activities and how they support domain and disciplinary challenges.

We are grateful to the RDA members who also participated and presented outputs and activities on behalf of their groups.

The secretariat has received feedback from participants, TAB and via the online survey and we will assess how to structure this session in future plenaries. If you would like to provide constructive feedback, please email enquiries[at]rd-alliance.org. We would be delighted to hear from you.


RDA Secretary General

Personal Reflections on the Helsinki Plenary
RDA Plenary meetings are always unique. Each meeting is different and the local hosts bring their culture and traditions to our community get togethers. This edition was no different. Our Finnish hosts - Aalto University, CSC- IT Center for Science, the Federation of Finnish Learned Societies, the Finnish Meteorological Institute and the University of Helsinki pulled out all the stops to organise and facilitate a wonderful plenary meeting.

I referred to the RDA community as a family in my opening speech and it truly does feel like a family. A place where discussions are passionate, alive, many times harmonious, sometimes difficult but where everyone has each other’s back and where everyone is aiming for the same end goal. RDA plenaries are like a large family gathering.

Respect to previous plenary meetings, I had less meetings and appointments scheduled which allowed me to interact more with the community. I love receiving feedback from participants, the positives and the “could do betters”, understanding what they are working on, what their plenary experience is, what impact RDA is having on their profession and how they impact on RDA.

This plenary was about how RDA makes the difference, how RDA effectively impacts on science and research, how RDA has matured and is now consolidating and strategizing for the future. RDA, like all organisations, must continuously assess its value and impact on its customers and clients. A commitment that has been made to the community and which is a high priority for the alliance.

As I concluded in my keynote during the Opening Session “Scientific investments must deliver both economic and societal return. Science, technology and innovation are critical to respond to global societal challenges. Data underpins each of these three key drivers for change. The Research Data Alliance is THE international forum to establish global standards and best practices for data”. 

So now I look forward to seeing the exciting RDA activities and outputs as a direct result of this gathering in Finland, the interaction of new community members and birth of new groups. We begin our future Plenary journeys towards Melbourne in March 2020, San Jose, Costa Rica in November 2020 and Edinburgh in April 2021 where new community members and new ideas await.

RDA is by the community, for the community. YOU are the RDA community. RDA has, does and will continue to make the difference. I can assure you that YOU make the difference. Please continue to do so. Science, Research, Society needs you.


Thank you, Hilary