Science communication for research data

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04 Dec 2019

Science communication for research data

Submitted by Timea Biro

Meeting objectives: 


Meeting to be held as a virtual session on the 3rd April at 16:00 UTC

Researchers spend a considerable time and effort in collecting and analysing data for scientific purposes, yet they tend to spend much less time on communicating their results to a wider audience and other stakeholders beyond the scientific community. In the past number of years, there has been significant progress in opening up the different dimensions and components of science:  data, methodologies and workflows, code and software, open access scientific publishing, education & training, and peer review. However, little is discussed in terms of ‘communicating’ outputs to wider audiences, as an effective means of science communication. This advancement of Open Science calls for discussions about what it means to share the findings and other components of  scientific research, including research data, with the wider audience beyond academia and specialised research communities. The push to develop this kind of communication -- beyond invested research communities -- is evidenced by EC funding calls in the SwafS stream(1) and by the inclusion of ‘communication efforts’ as a separate evaluation category from ‘dissemination’ in highly competitive grants such as the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action Individual Fellowships(2). Establishing science communication around research data as a key RDM best practice requires a wider discussion around effective engagement, skills and incentives, roles and recognition of such efforts as central to the research work. But there is also great potential and a growing interest to make this happen. RDA’s focus on building bridges, and its recognition of the complex social and cultural work required for this, makes it an ideal vehicle to  build momentum and capacity in science communication.

This BoF session is put forward following an initial scoping for interest conducted during the Unconference session at the RDA 14th Plenary meeting in Helsinki, 23-25 October 2019. The short Unconference discussion confirmed interest and what we hope to be a growing momentum for science communication under the Open Science umbrella. 

This BOF meeting will aim to introduce the wider topic of science communication and  focus on science communication for research data, in line with the RDA agenda. It will discuss the state of the art, priorities and requirements, and the actors involved and assess the need for a convergent effort and an RDA group on science communication for research data.


Meeting agenda: 

Discussion points: 

  1. What is the state of the art in science communication and science communication for research data? What are the gaps and requirements to be addressed?  

  2. Setting up an RDA group: matching gaps and requirements to potential group outputs e.g. 

  • Is there a need to outline core skills and best practices in communicating research data that the group should address? 

  • Are there specific tools, channels, audiences and other specificities that should be explored and a practitioner / user scenario catalogue to be built? 

  • Who are the key actors, what are their motivations and incentives e.g researchers, data repositories and their role, publishers etc and why is this important? 

  • How does science communication for research data support reuse? 

  • The potential beyond: data journalism, science journalism? Building guidelines on how to make the most of the opportunities.  

  • Is there a requirement for a curriculum for science communication for research data to be defined? 

  1. Discuss & decide if there is a need and interest for an RDA group. If so, what type and plan next steps for drafting charter/case statement and contributors. 


When discussing opportunities and relevance of the potential group and outputs, we will also consider how potential collaborations could shape the approach e.g. 

  • Collaboration with the RDA CODATA summers schools on research data / Data Carpentry  on a Science communication for data curriculum 

  • Collaboration with the Engaging researchers IG - contribute with use cases to Cookbook / Science communication for data - what works?  

  • Collaboration with the IG on Education and Training in handling research data and IG on Sharing Rewards and Credits when discussing recognition of skills and competencies

Type of Meeting: 
Working meeting
Short introduction describing any previous activities: 

As previously mentioned this BoF is based on a previous discussion at the 14th RDA Plenary Unconference.

BoF chair serving as contact person: 
Avoid conflict with the following group (1): 
Avoid conflict with the following group (2):