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10 Apr 2015

Perfect weather, sunny beaches and insightful events: The plenary that had it all...

The RDA plenaries have always been an exciting and learning event and this time it was much special for me, not only because I was awarded the early career program scholarship but also my research was getting perfectly aligned with the various WGs and IGs and the adoptions of the outcomes were shaping the course of my research. This year the 5th Plenary took place on the sunny southwestern coast of California, namely at San Diego. Personally, I think this was the best location for a plenary. Everyday after the intensive session the participants could sit back, relax and enjoy the warm weather and beaches, and rejuvenate for the next day events. The credit for organizing such a perfect plenary goes down to the members and the organization committee of RDA.

So for those of you who are new to RDA and also for those who would like to be part of RDA in the future, the question is “So what is RDA?” RDA is an international consortium of researchers, software developers, organizations, institutes, universities and more with a common goal of building social and technical bridges that enable open sharing of data. To enable this goal RDA comprises of various working groups (WGs) and interest groups (IGs). The WGs and IGs focus on single research topic for example, metadata, data type registries, research data provenance to name a few.  The WGs and IGs are steered by the experts of these fields. Currently, in RDA there are 15 WGs and 42 IGs with a total individual membership count of 2500+ from 92 countries and we are rapidly expanding each year.

This time the focus of the 5th Plenary was focused on adoption of the results of various WGs and IGs. RDA being such a diverse community I was able to co-ordinate my research with multiple WGs and IGs. I have been following and actively contributing to the Metadata IG, Research Data Provenance IG and the Data Fabric IG. During this plenary I acted as the scribe for the Data Fabric IG and was responsible for taking the notes. Parallel with the Data Fabric IG sessions I was also following the Metadata IG sessions and the guidance from Keith Jeffery with respect to the metadata topic for my research was very helpful.

Being the official scribe for the Data Fabric IG I was able to witness each and every activity of the all the Data Fabric sessions. Undoubtedly, the sessions had a clear agenda and they were systematically organized. We had a great response from the participants and it was clearly visible how important the Data Fabric IG is and why other WGs and IGs someway or the other are dependent on the Data Fabric IG outcomes. Personally, I have also my research use case under discussion at Data Fabric IG and I was able to learn a lot during the sessions and the discussions. We started with the Data Fabric plenary session, where Rob explained the goals and how Data Fabric plays an important role not only for the individual researchers or organizations in their research but also for other WGs and IGs. Peter followed with a clear explanation of how Data Fabric fits in the “data creation and processing cycle”. Lastly, Zhu explained the usage of the template and how researchers can contribute their use case to the Data Fabric IG, for a detail description about Data Fabric we have the White Paper supported by 120 community interviews made available on the wiki, also researchers can submit their use case by completing the template available on the wiki. As of now we have 10 use cases submitted to the Data Fabric expert panel for review and 5 use cases are in pipeline. During the Data Fabric core session, a total of 5 use cases were presented followed by intensive discussions. There was a lot that one could learn from these sessions. The future of Data Fabric is bright and the next steps are to develop the use cases with the guidance of the expert panel.

I believe I was able to contribute a lot for the 5th Plenary and not just contribute but I also received immediate guidance from the WG and IG experts. I have submitted my research use case for the Metadata IG, Research Data Provenance IG and the Data Fabric IG and also I presented a poster on “Open Reference Data Repository for Nanoscopy”. In the poster I have made it clear how various WGs and IGs are positively influencing my research. My contributions towards these groups does not end here, I will follow up with the activities and the outcomes of the WGs and IGs and will integrate them in my research. As a budding researcher I would certainly encourage other fellow researchers to participate actively in RDA.

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