The Research Data Alliance (RDA) offers a great opportunity for Australians to work with other leaders and experts from a multitude of countries to influence solutions applicable to our research community. Launched as a community-driven initiative in 2013 by the European Commission, the United States Government's National Science Foundation (NSF) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the Australian Government Department of Innovation, the RDA’s mission is to build the social and technical infrastructure to enable open sharing and reuse of data. The Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) has actively contributed to RDA since before its official launch and now works alongside members of several Australian institutions, serving on RDA governance bodies such as the RDA Council or the RDA Technical Advisory Board (TAB), or operating as co-chairs of Working/Interest Groups.
Australian participants attend RDA Plenaries, biannual working events held in different locations around the world. Plenaries bring together a unique community of data scientists, librarians, computer scientists, and domain researchers to help create tangible deliverables that improve data sharing across disciplines, technologies, and countries. From these Plenaries, members of the ARDC and other Australian institutions bring information, solutions, and opportunities back to their organisations and the wider Australian community. On behalf of the ARDC, we then disseminate this information to the organisations we work with that may be encountering similar issues or challenges that RDA groups may have resolved.
The thirteenth RDA Plenary with the theme “With Data Comes Responsibility" was held from 2- 4 April 2019 in Philadelphia, USA, attracting over 435 attendees from 34 countries, including 20 Australian participants from CSIRO, University of Western Australia, University of New South Wales, AARnet, Monash University, Melbourne University, University of Queensland, University of Sydney, National Computational Infrastructure, Australian Data Archive, Atlas of Living Australia, as well as the ARDC.
Important highlights during the three-day Plenary included:
- Continued discussions around RDA Outputs, the technical and social infrastructure solutions that enable data sharing, exchange and interoperability, and how to enhance discoverability and intelligibility of RDA recommendations, outputs, and adoption.
- Setup of an Ethics Curriculum task force as a result of discussions in the Ethics and Social Aspects of Data IG.
- Demonstrations of the continued growth in the use of FAIR across the world. The European FAIRsFAIR project, for example, was a hot topic of discussion at the Plenary. It aims to supply practical solutions for the use of the FAIR data principles throughout the research data life cycle with emphasis on fostering FAIR data.
- The FAIR Data Maturity Model Working Group meeting discussed and collected community views on which metrics should be included for measuring the FAIRness of datasets because funders are increasingly interested in assessing the FAIRness of research outputs.
- Discussion around health data, such as FAIR4Health, a research project funded by the European Commission that encourages the EU Health Research community to share and reuse their datasets derived from publicly funded research initiatives by applying the FAIR principles.
- Discussion on the need to standardise publisher and funder research data policies. Natasha Simons, ARDC, was one of the co-chairs of the Data policy standardisation and implementation Interest Group that helped develop and finalise the master framework for standardising publishers and journal research data policies.
Registration, as well as Calls for Group, Joint, BoF Sessions and Posters are currently open for RDA Plenary 14 in Helsinki, Finland, 23-25 October 2019. Contact Stefanie Kethers to find out more about the Plenary or RDA in general.