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04 Oct 2016

Being Part of the 8th RDA Plenary…..

My participation in the 8th RDA plenary meeting was an incredible experience from various aspects.

The eighth RDA Plenary (P8) has being held as part of the International Data Week (IDW) and has been organized by the Research Data Alliance, (RDA), CODATA, the Committee on Data of the International Council of Science (ICSU) and the ICSU World Data System. The IDW took place at the Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, Denver, CO, US from the 14th to 17th September 2016. The theme of this landmark event was ‘From Big Data to Open Data: Mobilizing the Data Revolution’.

Data professionals and researchers from all disciplines and from across the globe were convene in Denver, Colorado.  From the technical point of view I attended various presentations talking about science fields and domains (some of them totally unknown to me) and I followed different Working and Interest Groups come together to continue working towards the goals outlined in their Charters (for IGs) and Case Statements (for WGs). Followed the “RDA for newcomers” session was really helpful as I realized how clear and forthright is the RDA’s structure.

The first day was very motivating. I participated at the Data Stories session, of the International Data Forum, where 3 very interesting talks were presented and discussed. The first speaker, Jane Hunter (University of Queensland, Australia), presented three citizen science data stories from Australia and how great peoples’ power in contributing to data repositories is. The second speaker, Christine White (White Federation of Earth Science Partners - ESIP, United States) presented the data story of the Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey (CWF). New Jersey’s location along the Atlantic Coast makes it a unique place for wildlife and a globally recognized stopover for migratory birds, bats, and invertebrates. CWF mission is to preserve rare and imperiled species of wildlife that live and breed in, and migrate through New Jersey designed to provide anyone interested in rare and imperiled wildlife with an opportunity to take action. As Christine pointed out: “You never know who your data will impact”. Unni Karunakara (Senior Fellow, Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, Yale University and Former International President, Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Switzerland), presented several examples of how humanitarianism action can be/ is connected to data sharing. MSF enables the research community to maximize resources, prioritize research, leverage existing knowledge and accelerate outputs, by sharing data and providing a platform for collaboration.

Regarding the sessions, there was quite a lot variety of scientific and technical issues, so I was always able to find an interesting session to follow. As part of my attendance, I was also fortunate to attend, participate and also support the Chairs of the “Joint meeting of the IG Domain Repositories, IG Marine Data Harmonization, WG Research Data Collections: Adapting” and the “Adopting RDA Outputs in Domain Sciences and the IG Chemistry Research Data meeting”. The participation of the audience made possible interesting discussions in both sessions, always trying to end up in solutions to their problems or in the next steps to follow. Taking part in both of these meetings was a great opportunity to contribute to the RDA, and also help my current thinking in terms of my current activities, as both IG group are quite near to my expertise and fields of interests. Moreover, the topics discussed in these IGs were extremely beneficial for me in order to understand how the current development of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR) Web Observatory aligns with that of the discussions within the RDA, specifically with the design of platform standards and the representation and use of metadata for describing data.

The third day of my attendance (2nd day of the plenary meeting) I participated at the “RDA Recommendations and Adoption Plenary” session. After the Mrs. Kathy’s Fontaine Introduction and presentation of the six speakers, the first one, Alex Ball, analyzed new vision for the WG Metadata Standards and the challenges the WG faces. Although the data catalog doesn’t exist yet, the near future goal of this working group is to have a Metadata Standards Catalog usable by both people and other applications. The second speaker, Hugh Shanahan (Royal Holloway, University of London), presented the RDA/CODATA Summer School WG Recommendations and talked about the 2 summer schools planed for 2017. He pointed out that the real outputs are the skills learnt from the summer school participants. The next three speakers, Cyndy Chandler (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution), Jim Duncan (VMC) and Jason Haga (IU) gave a brief presentation about the successful adoption of the Data Citation Outcomes in three different scientific fields: ocean sciences infrastructure, forestry and agriculture infrastructure. The last talk of the session, given by Hylke Koers (Elsevier) introduced the SCHOLIX, a new framework presenting a vision and guidelines for linking research data and literature using a common, global approach. SCHOLIX is the output of the ICSU-WDS/RDA WG Publishing Data Services. He underlined that linking research data with Literature is necessary in order to increase the visibility and the discoverability of research data (and articles), place research data in the right context to enable proper re-use and support credit attribution mechanisms.

It was also profitable to have a poster there and be able to show my scientific work and interests which focus on marine ecosystem simulations of the impact of atmospheric deposition of nutrients to the ocean primary productivity and on numerical modeling of biogeochemical processes and hydrodynamics.  As an ecosystem modeler I only use, analyze and interpret large and diverse data sets (from inorganic nutrients up to large organisms such as fish), so my poster was the only one related to a concrete use of data while most posters were related to how to discover data, access data and similar issues.

From the social point of view it was great to be part of a huge research community during the duration of the International Data Forum and the Plenary meeting as well as to take part in group and bilateral discussions about research data. The event itself was remarkable well organized even if there were a lot of parallel sessions and events, which normally makes it difficult to participate and follow the session of your interest. In addition, the city and the location were great, including the dinner at the Coors Field and the night tour to the Denver Art Museum. The ambient was also great, people were really friendly and willing to discuss and establish collaboration opportunities, even if they were from different science domains and with different technical backgrounds.

In summary, it was a great experience at all levels, and I am very grateful to the organization for giving me the opportunity to participate as an early career researcher. Thank you for being part of it.

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