Special Issue on the Research Data Alliance
The January/February issue of D-Lib is largely devoted to the Research Data Alliance (RDA), a new organization that we feel will be of great interest to our readers. As you will discover as you go through the issue, RDA has gotten off to an extremely strong start, catching and helping to propel the wave of activity in what our guest editorial refers to as "the collection and analysis of previously unimaginable quantities of data". RDA is intended to be a bottom-up organization bringing together scientists and data practitioners to discuss, plan, and help build the infrastructure needed to bridge disciplinary and operational boundaries and mine the potential riches of the data flood. We do not, of course, know precisely where this will lead or whether RDA will achieve its most ambitious goals. We do know, however, that in the relatively brief time since its foundation, RDA has already brought together disparate groups and begun to build consensus in various areas.
Fran Berman, Ross Wilkinson, and John Wood, busy people all, generously agreed to guest edit by soliciting the articles and tying them together. Their guest editorial introduces the issue with a summary of RDA and of the articles that make up the issue. These include organizational pieces on the structure and current status of the organization, articles on specific working groups1, and finally a report on one of the early successes in which RDA played a role the data citation summit co-located with the RDA Second Plenary last fall. By happy coincidence we close the issue with a non-RDA specific report on a humanities data workshop.
These articles are generally short and to the point, which is reflective of the RDA ethos. They provide a snapshot of the organization in its current state and foreshadow its future. The number and scope of the working groups and interest groups is growing rapidly and initial RDA outputs, in the form of recommendations and best practices, will be formalized in the coming year. This is an exciting time for the involvement of the digital library community in the data explosion and it seems clear that RDA will be an important player in that intersection. We will look for ways to keep the D-Lib readership informed of its progress.
1 I am the co-chair of one of those groups and, having twisted the arms of our guest editors to produce this issue, found it difficult to turn down their subsequent request to have that group featured and for my co-chair and I to write one of the articles. While it is unusual for the editor of D-Lib to join the author ranks, it is not completely unprecedented. It will, however, remain an extremely rare event.
About the Editor