RDA and the Social Sciences

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08 November 2018 7373 reads

Latest update 18 May 2021

The Research Data Alliance (RDA) hosts about 60 Interest Groups and more than 35 Working Groups consisting of experts who are working on various topics related to (open) research data and innovation. To give an overview of the RDA work that is specifically interesting for social sciences researchers, Ricarda Braukmann from Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS) performed an analysis assessing the relevance of the RDA work for this specific community. This analysis was originally performed as part of the RDA Europe project where DANS represented the national RDA node for the Netherlands and RDA ambassador for the social sciences and humanities. A first version was released in August 2018, which was revised in December 2019 and updated in May 2021. 

The analysis performed on RDA Groups and outputs should be seen as a starting point for social science researchers that are new to the RDA and wish to receive some guidance through the large amount of work and topics covered by the RDA. The report analysed RDA Groups and, considered them highly relevant if they covered topics that should be of interest for social sciences researchers in general. These topics, for instance, include dealing with privacy-sensitive data or RDA work on research data management. Groups that may be interesting for social sciences researchers depending on their exact field of research or particular interest were labeled as moderately relevant, while groups that did not fit into these prior categories were labeled as being low in relevance.

A similar analysis was performed towards Recommendations and Outputs.

In the latest version of the report, nine Interest Groups, and two Working Groups were classified as particularly relevant to the social science community, covering topics like sensitive data, COVID-19, training and data management planning, as well as data discovery and standards for discipline-specific metadata.

In particular, the Social Science Research Data IG should be highlighted as it was set up to foster diverse professional exchange on issues particular relevant to data originating from the social sciences and humanities.

In the spring of 2020, the working group RDA-COVID19-Social-Sciences was established which we would like to highlight here as well. 

Of the RDA outputs the following five outputs were highlighted as particularly interesting for social sciences researchers.

• The final version of the RDA COVID-19 Recommendations and Guidelines for Data Sharing, consists of an overview of the COVID-10 WGs discussing how data from multiple disciplines can inform response to a pandemic.
• The Metadata Standards Directory output provides access to a directory of metadata standards for documenting research data, regardless of academic discipline. It features information for metadata in the social sciences and can therefore be seen as a useful tool for social sciences researchers. 
• The output on Eleven Quick Tips for Finding Research Data provides eleven practical tips for data discovery which can be useful for social sciences researcher to effectively discover the data that meet their specific needs.
• The FAIRsharing Registry and Recommendations: Interlinking Standards, Databases and Data Policies output describes the work of a joint RDA-Force11 FAIRsharing WG including guidelines for how various stakeholder groups can reduce the knowledge gap around the resources. 
• Lastly, Tromsø recommendations for citation of research data in linguistics datasets often not being cited due to confusion about how to properly cite them.
The most recent version of the report and related dataset can be found here: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1401104