Research Data Alliance
The goal of the Research Data Alliance (RDA) is to accelerate international data-driven innovation and discovery by facilitating research data sharing and exchange. This is achieved through the development, adoption, and deployment of infrastructure, policy, practice, standards, and other deliverables. The emphasis of RDA is on adoption and deployment as the result of focussed, short-term effort.
RDA has a grassroots, inclusive approach covering all data lifecycle stages, engaging data producers, users and stewards, addressing data curation, exchange, processing, and storage. It has succeeded in creating a neutral social platform where international research data experts meet to exchange views and to agree on topics including social hurdles on data sharing, education and training challenges, data management plans, and certification of data repositories, disciplinary and interdisciplinary interoperability, as well as technological aspects.
Since its launch in 2013, RDA has been supported in Europe and globally by its plug-in series of projects called RDA Europe.
RDA Europe 3.0 and 4.0
The Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI) actively contributed to the third phase of RDA Europe (2015-2018) as a funded partner under the Coordinating Support Activity (CSA) grant and was one of the implementers of RDA Europe 4.0 (2018-2020) The work under the two projects focused on engagement and support for EU participation in RDA: facilitating the promotion and uptake of the RDA results to discipline- and geographically-focused communities, coordinating the RDA EU Ambassadors, Expert and Early Career grant programmes and the wider awareness raising about the processes and benefits of engaging with the RDA. DRI was involved in the early building of the RDA, hosting the 3rd Plenary in Dublin in March 2014.
Under the umbrella of the RDA Europe 4.0 project, DRI has supported the set up and activities of the RDA Irish national node. RDA Ireland aimed to bring together researchers working with research data in Ireland, and enable them to connect with the broader RDA activities through the RDA Working and Interest Groups and the testing and adopting of RDA outputs and recommendations.
The node brought forward a particular focus on libraries and the galleries, libraries, archives, and museums (GLAM) sector, and the social sciences and digital humanities through its series of events and ‘Meet the Expert’ lectures, spotlight interviews, and other publications: https://www.rd-alliance.org/groups/rda-ireland.
RDA Ireland has supported the work of the National Open Research Forum at national levels and is holding a seat on the NORF FAIR data Working Group.
In November 2020, the Research Data Alliance, the Digital Repository of Ireland and the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) joined forces on a new project aiming to support the internationalisation and implementation of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC). This project was funded through an open call by the EOSC Secretariat.
The RDA4EOSC work was organised around a set of pillars of activities. Specifically, the initiative was designed to support a subset of scientific and research communities to prepare for engagement with EOSC, and aimed to drive the identification of a set of technological and domain specific solutions to be tested in the EOSC environment. Coupled with this, it provided support to the internationalisation and technical alignment of EOSC through dedicated activities at the RDA plenary meeting in April 2021, as well as provide support for European members of the RDA governance bodies to interact and engage with their international counterparts to ensure awareness and understanding of EOSC.
The project concluded in May 2021 with the production of a number of deliverables, including a report on awareness and readiness of domains and disciplines not currently engaged with EOSC and recommendations for engagement from 2021 onwards: https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.3630264
DRI coordinated and delivered the work under pillar 1: Identify and prepare new scientific and research communities to engage with EOSC, and pillar 5: Institutional, policymaker and global stakeholder engagement.
In February 2022, the DRI joined the Horizon Europe funded project EOSC Future to design engagement activities aimed at communities participating in the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC), coordinated through the RDA. The DRI’s efforts in this project will focus on ‘Widening EOSC Awareness and Engagement in Underrepresented Communities’ and builds on prior work carried out under RDA4EOSC in which the awareness and ‘readiness levels’ of selected communities engaging with EOSC were evaluated according to a number of technical and social indicators perceived to be enabling Open Science practices across their respective fields. Several communities were flagged as either unaware or unprepared to participate in EOSC, indicating that they may either be operating in data silos, wherein their data is harder to exchange with other disciplines for a number of reasons, such as: the current needs within the discipline are being met by discipline-specific resources and the value of interoperability has not been successfully communicated; there is a lack of standardisation, support, or unequal access to resources and tools; or the discipline as a whole is simply not yet participating in Open Science at a volume that has demanded an investment in resources and support (in other words, disciplines which are operating in the so-called ‘long tail of science’).
An updated report will attempt to refine and clarify the information previously gathered from a variety of data sources, including standards, policies, frameworks, roadmaps, registries and catalogues, opportunities for training and skill development, professional networks and associations, and other initiatives in place which currently support community-building in Open Science, in several significant ways: by providing an update to the assessed readiness level of the disciplines previously selected for review, acknowledging that the development of Open Science practices can be uneven, but also surprisingly fast-paced, by inviting feedback from the RDA membership and disciplinary experts on the evaluation method established to explain the findings in the report, and through targeted interviews conducted to refine the picture of data sharing literacy, skills, and competencies exhibited by these communities.
This effort also comprises targeted workshops and toolkits aimed at the underrepresented disciplinary communities, created in partnership with RDA/EOSC Future Domain Ambassadors, and will focus on building RDA support for continued engagement with EOSC. RDA has been contributing to the implementation of the EOSC through the efforts of more than 100 Working and Interest groups and is well-positioned to continue to facilitate and coordinate international activity.