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19 May 2020

Attending P15. An early career perspective.

It was my special pleasure to be one of the RDA Europe Early Career Grantees for the 15th Plenary Meeting and to get to know the RDA community at this occasion. I hope to continue to be part of RDA in the future, so in the following I would like to briefly elaborate on why RDA matters to me, what I am working on and how I perceived P15.

In June 2018, the Union of the German Academies launched a digital platform to interconnect metadata about research projects funded and conducted by science academies in Europe, the European Gateway for the Academies of Sciences and Humanities with the name AGATE. Since I was from the beginning part of the team that realized AGATE as a research information system, I'm naturally interested in collecting and supplying research data, specifically metadata on current and completed research projects.

Since I furthermore believe in the importance of open and accessible research data, socially, politically and economically, it was a logical step to seek contact to the RDA community sooner or later. In early 2020 I applied for the Early Career Grant and receiving it meant a huge success to me. When the event came close I was already wondering what experiences I would make, what people I would get to know and most of all how I could connect with the RDA community.

My employer the Academy of Sciences and Literature | Mainz pursues a policy of providing open research data according to the European open science agenda. Hence awareness of the advantages and necessity of that agenda is already part of my daily work. The process of developing AGATE was very much guided by these principle by paying particularly attention the GoFAIR initiative.

In retrospect it is a bit absurd, but the news that P15 would be cancelled hit me unexpected and by surprise, as probably most of us. At first I thought it was a pity that I would not have the chance to get to know RDA first hand, but then the opportunity arose to get to know RDA via the possibilities of an open and connected world.

It was very impressive to see how quickly the organization of the plenary switched from a physical meeting in Melbourne to a virtual meeting around the world. My first impression of RDA was, so to speak, that they could just move the whole meeting from one day to the next. At the same time it was a good opportunity to get to know RDA's digital infrastructure.

I quickly understood how community driven RDA really is. It is incredible how many committed people from the most diverse disciplines and from all countries of the world come together here and I think the RDA platform really conveys this. Accordingly, it made perfect sense to me that the first of the Ps mentioned by Hilary Hanahoe in her opening address was PEOPLE. The diversity of the RDA community is certainly its greatest strength and the key to a world of open data.

Just how important the data availability and exchange is clearly is demonstrated by the current corona crisis. Now is the hour of multinational and interdisciplinary cooperation and it is regrettable that there are forces in the world that do not see this. But RDA does so – and this is another aspect that I take very positively from this plenary meeting – that the reaction to the new situation was very rapid and an RDA COVID-19 Working Group was set up ad hoc, which very quickly drew up and published recommendations and guidelines on data sharing in regard to the specific circumstances and requirements of this crisis.

It was precisely this ability to act quickly and pragmatically on the largest possible scale that impressed me so much. As someone from the field of SSH, I see enormous potential through more international understanding and appreciation, for which common ground is an important foundation. On the one hand, open data can inspire intercultural exchange and, on the other hand, it can also be an exciting source for other disciplines. With its interdisciplinary Working and Interest Groups, RDA can be seen as a pacemaker for the integration of humanities research in non-ssh studies.

As for my work in the AGATE project, we are working hard to provide more data in a harmonized way. We still have a lot of work to do here, even if we have already made a start. At the same time I hope not to lose the connection to RDA after the plenary but to get to know more people and ideas from this community. In my view, maintaining digital communication in particular can only be an advantage. And one day, I hope to meet you all in person.

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