RDA Business Updates Newsletter - September 2019 Edition

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26 Sep 2019

RDA Business Updates Newsletter - September 2019 Edition

This second issue of the RDA Business newsletter focuses primarily on the latest activities within each of the RDA Organisational Bodies, namely the Council and its Task Forces,TAB, the Organisational Assembly and the Organisation Advisory Board, the RDA Secretariat and the Secretary General. Much of the activity carried out in the last month relate to the planning and organisation of the RDA 14th Plenary in Helsinki, Finland.



The Research Data Alliance Council is composed of 9 elected members and 5 consensus forming, non-voting members representing the Technical Advisory Board (TAB), Organisational Assembly and Organisational Advisory Board (OA and OAB) and the Secretary-General. For more information on the Council, visit the dedicated page.


Council Task Forces.

The RDA Membership Taskforce, chaired by Sandra Collins, continued its work on assessing different models for individual membership of the Research Data Alliance. Over the coming period, a sample of RDA members will be invited to complete a survey on possible membership models. The Plenary Structure Assessment Task force will begin work in November, after the 14th RDA Plenary meeting. The recent discussions and feedback from some RDA Working and Interest Group chairs on reducing the carbon footprint will be part of the discussion.

The Council met virtually in August and September and has its next face to face meeting on 21st October 2019 in Helsinki, Finland.


Technical Advisory Board (TAB)

TAB publishes a monthly activity report which is available here. The main topics only are reported below.


Definition of 14th Plenary programme.

Duting the last months, TAB was in charge of reviewing the P14 session proposals (43 Group sessions, 8 Joint Meeting sessions, 16 BoF sessions). The TAB co-chairs and TAB liaisons interacted with proposers when TAB identified possible improvements in the session set-up or description. The response was very positive with constructive discussions. Reading session proposals gives an excellent overview of the activities and on-going progress in the RDA, and of possible new proposals which will be discussed in the BoFs. Once again, this will be a great Plenary!


Review and promotion of RDA Working & Interest Groups.

There were 5 proposed Groups in review by TAB during the period:

  • Research Management in Engineering IG - revised case statement
  • Open Science Graphs for FAIR Data IG
  • Social Science Research Data IG (previously Social Science and Humanities Research Data IG) - revised case statement
  • Research Metadata Schemas WG
  • Interoperable Descriptions of Observable Property Terminology WG

The Secretariat recently updated the list of "historical" Groups. TAB have begun to discuss the usefulness to identify whether some activities of these "historical" Groups are addressed by active Groups and, if it is the case, how it could be done.


Organisational Assembly (OA) & 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.

OAB had its last meeting on 4 September. The main topics discussed were the Plenary Pathways for the upcoming RDA Plenary 14 in Helsinki. 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 and the plan for the OA and OAB meetings in Helsinki. 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.


OA benefits include:

  • Organisational Members can communicate open job positions in their organisation to whole RDA community
  • All Organisational Members benfit 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 - see this page
  • 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.



The RDA Secretariat supports the daily administration and operation of the Research Data Alliance. It’s staff are located in Australia, Europe and the United States and collaborate virtually across time zones. The secretariat meetings weekly by conference call and a series of secretariat sub task forces (e.g. Outputs & Adoption, Communications, Processes) work on specific support activities. For more information on the RDA Secretariat see this page


Recent activities

During this period the secretariat is focusing on:

  • Coordination of the 14th RDA Plenary Meeting (P14), Helsinki, Finland, 23-25 October 2019
  • Support and coordination of the Unconference component of RDA 14th Plenary Meeting
  • Communication and outreach plans for 14th RDA Plenary Meeting
  • Promotion and creation of RDA Outputs and Adoption Stories
  • Liaison with and support for on-going and new Working & Interest groups
  • Provision of secretariat support to all RDA Governance Bodies (Council TAB, OAB and Funders Forum)
  • Maintenance and development of the RDA web platform (supported by the RDA Europe 4.0 programme, directly provided by Trust-IT services Ltd.)
  • Communication, publication and outreach of RDA activities and outputs
  • Preparation of and support for the 15th Plenary Meeting in Melbourne, Australia - 18-20 March 2020


During this period, the Secretariat said Goodbye to a long standing member, Lynn Yarmey. We are truly grateful to her for her contribution to RDA and service on the secretariat.



The RDA Secretary General is a key position in the RDA whose responsibilities include:

  • Leadership of RDA’s membership 
  • Effective management of the RDA organization and legal entity (RDA Foundation)
  • Management of the RDA Secretariat
  • Strategic planning, in collaboration with RDA Council, and managing and driving change within the RDA organization
  • Engagement with funders, stakeholders and organizations 
  • Sustainable stewardship of a dynamic, active, and high-impact community 
  • Financial stability and sustainability of RDA Foundation

The Secretary General reports to the RDA leadership Council and works closely with all members of the RDA community. Hilary Hanahoe is currently the Secretary General of the Research Data Alliance. Hilary can be contacted: by email: hilary.hanahoe[at]rda-foundation.org by telephone: +393454719284 by skype: hilary.hanahoe She is on Twitter @hilaryhanahoe and LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/hilary-hanahoe

For more information on RDA Secretary General roles and responsibilities see this page.