The Research Data Alliance contributing to the European Open Science Cloud
The RDA platform is being significantly leveraged in the creation of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC). The Report on RDA integration with other European initiatives issued by RDA Europe 4.0 project describes the key finding from a survey conducted amongst 22 current, EOSC-related projects.
RDA Europe 4.0 is an offshoot of the international Research Data Alliance (RDA) and a Coordination & Support Action co-funded by the European Commission under the Research and Innovation Framework Programme, Horizon 2020 (H2020). The objective of RDA Europe 4.0 is to become the centrepiece for a EU Open Science Strategy through a consolidated European network of National Nodes, bringing forward an RDA legacy in Europe, providing skilled, voluntary resources from the EU investment to address Digital Single Market issues.
Multiple Avenues of Collaboration
RDA worldwide has more than 10 000 corporate, governmental and institutional members in 144 countries (see RDA in a Nutshell, April 2020), and facilitates the development and adoption of infrastructure that promotes data-sharing and data-driven research. RDA is integrated with European open science and research data initiatives through several avenues of collaboration including community consultation, development of community-endorsed solutions, adoption of outputs, and co-organised activities at the global, European and national levels.
The Research Data Alliance provides a unique international forum in which data standards, sharing agreements, best practices, tools and infrastructure can be worked on collectively across geographic and disciplinary boundaries. RDA and EOSC share a common vision about reducing barriers to research data sharing, and within the EOSC context, the RDA has been identified as a key vehicle in implementing the EOSC and coordinating international activity within the EOSC workplan.
The survey run by RDA Europe 4.0 found that EOSC projects are actively engaged with RDA in numerous ways. For example, several projects are implementing recommendations from specific RDA Working Groups while others use the RDA community as a way to get feedback on their outputs and build their international network of researchers and data practitioners.
Members of the RDA community are prominent in all three EOSC Governance bodies and RDA members are present in all EOSC Working Groups. In addition, many of the RDA Europe 4.0 national nodes are involved in EOSC projects, whether they be horizontal eInfrastructure initiatives such as EOSC-hub, OpenAIRE, EOSC Nordic, EOSC-Pillar and NI4OS or disciplinary and thematic initiatives such as SSHOC, ESCAPE and FAIRsFAIR.
*March 2020. The Skills & Training Working Group started in January 2020 was not included in the analysis
RDA Working and Interest Groups: Conduit to Global Expertise
Perhaps most significantly, many EOSC-related projects are actively involved in RDA Interest and Working Groups and the co-development of outputs. This is particularly the case for groups dealing with topical issues in the European context such as the FAIR Data Maturity Model WG, the Research Data Repository Interoperability WG, and the Active Data Management Plans IG. While some projects such as FAIRsFAIR are engaged with numerous groups, others are focused on domain-specific expertise offered by RDA, for example: FAIR4Health and the Health Data IG, and SSHOC and the Social Science Research Data IG.
In several cases, EOSC projects have been involved in the formation of RDA groups to develop community-endorsed technical solutions for a particular data challenge. Eight projects have been involved in the creation of new groups and six have expressed an interest in proposing new groups. These interest levels exemplify the value of the RDA platform as a conduit to international expertise and consensus building. They also reflect a desire to avoid duplication and instead to build on, adapt, or extend previous RDA work to meet the needs of EOSC users.
In terms of events and outcomes, the ‘Services to support FAIR data’ workshops and resulting report illustrate how related projects RDA Europe 4.0, OpenAIRE, EOSC-hub, FAIRsFAIR, and FREYA have partnered to deliver outcomes that inform continuing work within and beyond the individual projects. Further examples are workshops with EOSC projects, GEDE-RDA activities, and efforts by the RDA Europe national nodes to connect national communities and infrastructures to ongoing European initiatives.
The benefits of working with RDA
The report cites the most commonly quoted advantage as “RDA has allowed me to connect with an international network of researchers and data practitioners and has increased networking opportunities for my project.” Other benefits, listed in order of relevance, include:
- Access to information regarding global cultural change and professional best practice
- The opportunity for project staff to keep up to date with developments in the field of research data
- The ability to access and adopt technical solutions and contribute to developments and testing
In terms of adopting RDA outputs and recommendations, the report reveals that while almost three quarters of survey respondents stated that they were aware of the RDA’s Recommendations and Outputs, there are significant barriers to the implementation of RDA outputs as part of EOSC projects. The most significant of these is the effort and time required for implementation. Other impediments include the associated costs and the need for technical support.
RDA Europe 4.0 has concrete plans to expand and deepen its involvement with EOSC initiatives. These include actively supporting projects which have expressed a desire to establish a new RDA Interest or Working Group, and reaching out directly to groups to suggest opportunities for collaboration. For projects actively developing and adopting RDA outputs, RDA Europe 4.0 will increase the visibility of these activities by documenting adoption stories which help to inspire further uptake.
The report is the work of experts from University of Göttingen (Ugoe), the Royal Irish Academy (Ria), Trust-it Services and The University Of Edinburgh (Uedin), all members of the RDA Europe 4 consortium. Click here to access the full report.