The Research Data Alliance is an emerging international organization whose goal is to accelerate international data-driven innovation and discovery by facilitating research data sharing and exchange, use and re-use, standards harmonization, and discoverability. This will be achieved through the development and adoption of infrastructure, policy, practice, standards, and other deliverables.
The Research Data Alliance launch and first plenary took place in Gothenburg from 18 to 20 March 2013. At its first plenary, the RDA was launched by sponsors from the European Commission, the U. S. Government and the Australian Government and leaders in the data community.
Individuals representing stakeholders from the sciences, infrastructures, technology providers, libraries, etc. were present at the meeting. Major initiatives and organizations across the world were also represented, including LIBER, OpenAIRE and COAR (see list of participants)
The Plenary was a working meeting to accelerate discussion, Working and Interest Group interaction, and data community development. The true measure of the alliance’s work, will be the outcome of the efforts of the various working groups that are being assembled to evaluate and shape the research projects that they select in the future.
Interesting and relevant for our community were the formally established Working Groups [Data]Persistent Identifiers, Practical Policy Working Group and the discussions at the Interest Groups like Legal Interoperability, Metadata, Contextual Metadata, Repository Audit and Certification or Preservation e-Infrastructure. The importance of the repositories community contribution in those discussions was mentioned.
Different people with different interests gathered together in an “umbrella” interest group finally titled “Publishing Data”. Many related different issues arised in the discussion of this group, e.g. recommendations on data citations, workflows involved in data publication, linking data and publications, perhaps including data peer review. This “umbrella” might finally split in different interest groups and eventually in some Working Groups. But that has to be discussed over the next months. This could be a discussion to get involved.
All these Groups will report back the next RDA meeting, mid-September in Washington, on tangible results for the working groups, if some new working groups have materialize into specific actions from the Interest groups, and what ideas are still valid or not.
While throughout the speeches as well as in some groups there were allusions to the role of digital repositories, these mainly related to big data repositories and to data centers. In this sense, the data generated by the researchers in their institutions and universities as well as the role of the institutional repositories and repositories infrastructures to manage these data, was not clearly recognized.
There was a question upraised: a researcher, in his university, asking: “Where do I put that data that you declared in your data management plan is vital to the community?”
Major research universities are grappling with their response to the deluge of scientific data emerging through research by their faculty. This means addressing the challenges of the “long tail data” or “small data” Many are looking to their libraries and the institutional repository as a solution. Researchers, at research institutions and universities need a repository for collaboration and data publication and storage at all stages of the scientific endeavor. They need to be provided a workspace for work-in-progress, and for collaborative or large-scale projects.
And it was a general homage to the unsung hero, the data manager or data curator and a general agreement about the “desperate” need to train researchers, students, librarians and repository managers in the new skills and competencies required.
Both are some of the major issues the community of open access repositories can contribute to the global effort of the RDA Alliance community, and COAR can make it possible.