D-Lib Magazine
The Magazine of Digital Library Research
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D-Lib Magazine

November/December 2014
Volume 20, Number 11/12
Table of Contents


Conference Report: Research Data Alliance (RDA) 4th Plenary Meeting

Yolanda Meleco
Research Data Alliance/U.S.



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The Research Data Alliance's (RDA) 4th Plenary Meeting was held 22-24 September 2014 in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Funded by the European Commission, the United States National Science Foundation and the Australian National Data Service, and launched in March 2013, RDA's membership has increased in size to more than 2,300 members in 96 countries in less than two years. With a mission to build the social, organizational and technical infrastructure needed to reduce barriers to data sharing and accelerate data driven innovation worldwide, RDA is demonstrating success through its rapid growth and the release of its first outputs by four of its Working Groups during the Meeting. More than 550 individuals attended the meeting representing numerous disciplines and areas of interest, including data management, astronomy, education, health sciences and geology. This report highlights accomplishments announced by working group members during the event, ongoing initiatives of the RDA and opportunities identified for further advancing the mission of the RDA in the near future.



"Reaping the Fruits," the theme of the Research Data Alliance's (RDA) 4th Plenary Meeting held 22-24 September 2014 in Amsterdam, Netherlands, was prominently visible throughout the meeting. The theme, chosen primarily to recognize the significant progress of the RDA after only 18 months of existence as an international organization, provided the foundation for this three-day event which attracted more than 550 individuals from approximately 40 countries. Co-located with various other events including the 3rd EUDAT Conference, Crowd Computing 2014 and the Data Seal of Approval Conference 2014, this Meeting offered attendees an impressive combination of networking, collaboration and educational opportunities.

Keynote speakers during the week included Professor Barend Mons (Biosemantics Group at Leiden University Medical Center and Head of Node of ELIXIR-NL) and Professor Christine L. Borgman (Professor and Presidential Chair in Information Studies at UCLA). Professor Mons offered an intriguing perspective on the similarities between data stewardship and theatre in his speech titled "Bringing Data to Broadway," while Professor Borgman addressed key overarching issues related to data sharing and exchange in her speech titled "Data, Data, Everywhere, Nor Any Drop to Drink." View recordings of these speeches and the entire speaker list from the Meeting here.

Throughout the event, attendees participated in their choice of over forty different sessions hosted by RDA chairs on various topics including legal interoperability, big data, metadata, standardizing terminology, marine data harmonization and bibliometrics. Several RDA Working Groups, which are groups comprised of RDA members engaged in the creation of deliverables that will directly enable data sharing, exchange, or interoperability, reported on the outcomes of their projects. A summary of these outcomes is provided below.


The RDA Data Foundation and Terminology Working Group

This Working Group announced a standardized terminology model for commonly used data management concepts and announced adoption of this model by several organizations throughout the world, including European Data Infrastructure, Common Operations of Environmental Research Infrastructures and Earth System Science Data.


Data Type Registries Working Group

This Working Group demonstrated a standardized data type registry model with wide applicability to numerous organizations and industries, and solicited interested individuals to work with RDA on creating discipline-specific registries in the future.


PID Information Types Working Group

Due to the lack of standardized information types, objects and related metadata associated with Persistent Identifier Definitions, the PID Information Types Working Group demonstrated a conceptual model for structuring typed information to better identify PIDs, an application programming interface for access to typed information and a tool that demonstrates the process.


Practical Policy Working Group

A compilation of customizable data management policies was released by this Working Group, which were designed to improve data center administration, facilitate sharing of best practices and foster effective data interchange between communities.


Looking Ahead

RDA plans to extensively promote these outcomes in the coming weeks to various industries, disciplines and regions, with the goal of adoption of these resources by new organizations throughout the world. It is the intent of RDA to share these organizational adoption stories during its 5th Plenary Meeting, which will be hosted by RDA/US and held in San Diego, California from 8-12 March 2014.

Visit https://rd-alliance.org to learn more about the RDA and/or register for the 5th Plenary Meeting.


About the Author


Yolanda Meleco is the Communications Manager for Research Data Alliance/United States (U.S.) and has more than fifteen years of experience working in senior-level communications positions in the pharmaceutical, healthcare and finance industries. She leads the development and implementation of communications and marketing activities that promote the mission, efforts and programs of RDA/U.S.

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