Organisational Assembly - Amsterdam

RDA Organisational Assembly

Plenary 4, Amsterdam

Monday 22 September 2014, 13:30-17:00, Room 1

Draft Minutes


See scanned list of participants

Session A – Open meeting (13:30-15:00)

  1. Call to Order, Juan Bicarregui, OAB co-chair
  2. Introductions (15 minutes), Juan Bicarregui
  3. Review of the Function of the Organisational Assembly and OAB (15 minutes), Juan Bicarregui - SLIDES
    • Juan Bicarregui reviewed the function of the OA and the OAB and explained that given the manageable number of organisations who signed the application form there is no need for the formation of a separate OAB (Organisational Advisory Board), which will be an Executive Committee of the whole, and only after the number of Organisational members goes above 30 this will be considered (possibly in the next plenary). So currently the OA=OAB.
    • He then explained that the purpose of the OAB is to represent the interests of Organisational Members and ensure that their input and needs play a role in guiding the programs and activities of the RDA. The OAB meets monthly by teleconference and in-person at the semi-annual RDA plenaries to provide guidance on RDA business operations, oversight of Interest Groups (IG) and Working Groups (WG), and outreach to the larger community.  He then stressed the role that OAB can play in providing guidance on organisational needs, partnerships and pilot opportunities, and especially in encouraging and facilitating broad community adoption of RDA outputs, as well as adoption among organisational members.
    • He closed by stating that after the phase of application forms that were signed by organisational members, an agreement between RDA Foundation and the organisation ought to be signed formalising the organisational membership. He explained that the formal signing will take place at the end of the first session for those representatives that have the legal authority to sign and a photo will be taken. The agreement start date has been set to 22 September 2014 (the date of the Amsterdam OA). The initial duration of the agreement is one year, but it is automatically renewed unless otherwise specified by the two members. The RDA Foundation will be invoicing the organisational members later this year when some more bureaucratic steps are completed.  
  4. Panel Discussion
  • Panel Chair: Walter Stewart, OAB co-chair
    • Walter Stewart (OAB co-chair) introduced the scope of the panel through a list of relevant questions, namely:
      • Why does my organisation care about data interoperability?
      • What barriers do we experience in data interoperability?
      • What do we expect/hope RDA will be able to achieve?
      • How would we implement protocols/standards/other products of RDA in our work?
    • He then invited representatives from four diverse organisational members to express their views.
  • Panelists:
    1. Amy Nurnberger, Columbia University Libraries/Information Services, USA and Michael Witt, Purdue University, USA
      • Amy Nurnberger coming from a University Library explained why it is important for libraries to engage with RDA. She highlighted as one of the key reasons the interoperability at various levels, including legal rights and admin. International collaboration/global engagement was also another important reason.
      • Michael Witt coming from Purdue University Distributed Digital Curation Centre D2CC), explained his organisation's involvement in being able to participate in shaping RDA and its directions, and collaborate with other organisations, beyond libraries, who have a diverse set of needs.Their strategic plan recognises that data is a part of all three pillars: learning (information literacy), scholarly communication, meeting global challenges. Sharing solutions and support, as well as interoperable data were also key reasons in being involved, in line with his organisation mission. Regarding barriers and expectations, Michael Witt stated that more dedicated staff/experts on Research Data stewardship are needed, able to devise and execute Data Management Plans and the RDA can play a role in this. He stated that libraries can act as third trusted parties for other organisations and that reaching out to the data users is crucial. Using the analogy with the communication networks, he stated that having the core network (data infrastructure) is not enough and that the last mile (users) is crucial.
    2. Simon Hodson, Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA)
      • Simon Hodson referred to RDA as a sister organisation. He introduced CODATA stating that is was established in 1966! He referred to RDA as a valuable partner, stressing the word alliance as part of the RDA acronym. CODATA is part of and contributes to the alliance, as well as to the mission and believe in the same objectives. On the third question he mentioned that through collaboration, greater magnitude can be achieved. On the fourth question, although not an implementer, he stated that they care about implementation and so they are very interested, in all levels of interoperability, technical, legal but also cultural. And that genuine rather paper solutions are needed! He closed highlighting that adoption by a broad and interdisciplinary community is key for success.
    3. Laurel Haak, ORCID
      • Laurel Haak gave a brief introduction about ORCID. She stated that data sharing and interoperability is at the core of the ORCID mission. From RDA, ORCID they want to understand the status of and opportunities for data sharing. Regarding expectations from RDΑ, ORCID is looking for the following: i. Pragmatism: RDA as a venue of practical solutions. ii. RDA as a test-bed for ORCID, via collaborations with relevant IG/WGs. iii. Opportunity to talk to discipline-focused groups, i.e., not only the plumbing, but also the last mile (communities). On the last question on implementing RDA outputs in their work, she referred to the PID type registry group as one example of a relevant specification. She closed by stating that RDA is an effective venue to discuss specific implementations and share experiences.
    4. Tony Hey, Microsoft Research
      • Tony Hey started by distinguishing Microsoft Research (MSR) from Microsoft Corporation (MS). MS cares about data interoperability (OASIS, JSON, etc.), while MSR cares about research data interoperability and is doing research on aspects around that. On the first question, he came up with an example of the open source Cloud stack OpenStack that is s built by a community of developers, in collaboration with users, and is designed in the open, not through a disciplined effort. He added that MSR is now working with open communities (depositing code etc.). So, RDA will help MSR in getting involved with the right communities. He also mentioned that RDA should work on data sustainability. On the third question he referred to Bob Kahn, and the ITU-T recommendation X.1255 (Framework for discovery of identity management information) and that RDA may be able to shed some light on. On the last question, he mentioned that in order for Microsoft to sell its tools, these need to be interoperable with other community tools. So they want to see what tools and protocols will come out from RDA. He closed with two examples of exciting projects, namely Bing's Entity Engine, a special to research search engine linking papers and data and that MS will open up part of this entity engine so more third-party sites will be able to highlight some of their features on Bing. The second example was the Cortana intelligent personal assistant in the Windows Phone, where they have used vast amounts of research data, e.g. for object recognition.
    5. Questions and Discussion – 20 minutes
      • Next, Walter chaired the discussion and asked whether any reason for joining RDA was not brought up by the panelists. Patrick Coquet mentioned that startups can benefit from RDA and its outputs and such promotion of RDA to them is needed.
      • Then several points were raised:
        • Business groups from companies may not be willing to spend money if they don't see concrete things, especially as RDA is not a standards organisation.
        • Not only libraries should be members of RDA, but the whole university or related entity (there were different opinions on the role of libraries and whether they should be driving related efforts or possibly acting as links inside their organisations. Funding was also a related issue). 
        • Organisations need to see the value in being involved in RDA.
        • Training of data professionals is important, including the appropriate culture.
        • Data citation is more valuable than publications (the message from the morning plenary) and is one of the key practices for the recognition of data as primary research output.
        • On the added-value of RDA (and how it can be made more valuable) , it was stated that RDA acts/can act further as bridge between several communities and organisations and that it should develop practical outputs ("practical somethings") that cover pragmatic needs.
        • Outputs should be as quick as possible, because members or even organisations may not be able to afford waiting too much time and spending money following/contributing for too long.
        • The target for RDA to be valuable is to develop pragmatic tools and engage with organisational members. And the link between the two, i.e. if the tools are pragmatic, they will be adopted by the organisations
        • Communication is an issue, and more attention/effort needs to be given to communication of results.
        • There were different opinions on whether 18 months for RDA outputs is a long period.
        • Collaboration with computing centres is beneficial, and related policies need to be developed for that.
  1. Break – 30 minutes

Session B – Closed meeting (15:30-17:00) (to the ones who will have signed the membership application form(s) by the Amsterdam meeting)

Walter Stewart (OAB (co-)chair) reminded to those who were not present in the first session the role of the OAB vs. OA (see Session A minutes) and explained that currently the OAB is the same with the OA. If the number of Organisational Members grows significantly by P5, there will be an OAB election in San Diego. Otherwise the OAB will remain the whole OA. He then reminded that there are monthly OAB meetings, one scheduled to be more convenient for Europe and one for US and Australia. For this reason, there is a 2 month slip for approval of OAB minutes. Then the procedure followed for becoming Organisational Members was reminded, i.e. first the signature of the application form (RDA Organisational Member application [link]) and then the signature of the member agreement (RDA Organisational Member Agreement [link]). The application form is a Letter of Intent, while the member agreement is the one that formalises the relationship with RDA. Given the fact that the first agreements were signed during the Amsterdam plenary (22 September), the duration of the agreement is settled to be 22 September of the year it is signed until 21 of September on the next year. The agreement period stays the same independently of the actual date of the signature. For this first period, an invoice will be generated (to all the members who signed) as soon as some accounting issues are resolved (by the end of the year).

  1. Report from Council – (10 minutes)
    • Fran Berman RDA Council co-chair first gave an overview of the RDA activities in the last 1,5 years, stating that it was a phase of RDA growing and maturing, from infancy to adolescence. In this period a lot of activities took place and made RDA more effective, including the establishment of a high number of WG/IGs (~20 WGs and 35 IGs), TAB, OA and secretariat and the recruitment of the Secretary General. Already the first fruits are becoming available and RDA has to work hard towards making their adoption a reality, being useful for the community. RDA is working closely with its regional constituents and funding bodies, e.g. in Europe with RDA Europe and the EC, in US the RDA US and NSF. The next focus is the adoption and there are open issues to resolve, namely who maintains the outputs, intellectual properties and policies. The role of the OA is vital for the adoption beyond individual level. In spring RDA will be 2 years old and a steady state is the target, including all of its governance bodies. A strategic planning will be prepared, describing what RDA wants to accomplish in the next 3 year. Funding and sustainability are key issues and it will be a busy year to become more mature, effective and impactful. Feedback is needed in how to stay agile and become more effective, what works ok and what needs to be changed. Fran then stated that the number of RDA members and the plenary attendees have been growing steadily and this amazing news: In Plenary 2 it was 1300+ 400 accordingly, in Plenary 3 it was 1500 and under 500 and now in P4 it is 2300 members from 96 countries, and 530 registered attendees this morning.
    • Regarding the Council, Fran stated that it is working hard, meeting 4 times a year (2 meetings in plenaries and 2 off-plenaries) to achieve the RDA vision. The last meeting was in Paris, which was attended by the OAB and TAB co-chairs. Two issues were given proper attention: adoption and amplification. In addition, Patrick Cocquet brought people from the private sector to talk to the Council; a good selection of company representatives, from small to large. She then stated that the Organisational Assembly is critical to interact with more than plain individuals. Interacting at the organisational level is thus vital for adoption and amplification and for growing the RDA impact.
    • John Wood, Council co-chair, repeated that the goal is indeed to make something impactful happen! He stressed also the global dimension of RDA, and that more engagement with Africa, Asia and Latin America is needed. He reported on the follow-up edition of “Riding the Wave” and the role of research data and the citizen. He then mentioned the new European Commission priorities on the citizens and jobs, and that he is working closely with them (both DG CONNECT and DG Research). He closed his intervention stating that data literacy is of high interest much more beyond research.
  2. Report from TAB – (10 minutes)
    • Andrew Treloar, TAB co-chair, stated that the TAB is working with WG/IGs reviewing their case statements/charters and providing recommendations on improving them. When the TAB comments are integrated, they are sent to the Council for approval. The TAB, which has monthly meetings, is also providing input to the processes around WG/IGs. Andrew reminded the RDA outputs session at the RDA plenary the following day that will focus on adoption and of the TAB election, explaining that 1/3 of the TAB replaces every year. He also stated that as of recently a TAB member is participating in the OAB meetings, and that they work closely now with OAB on outputs adoption. In the case statements reviews, more focus is given in the strategy for outputs adoption and by who. After the WGs finish their work, the TAB’s role is to monitor the adoption phase. To conclude he stated that the roles of OAB and TAB are complementary, especially on adoption, and that the OAB has a pivotal role on that.
  3. Questions and Discussion with Council and TAB Representatives – (60 minutes)
    1. Outputs adoption – role of the OA
      • On the discussion that followed the following issues were raised:

        • Who maintains the RDA outputs (including bug fixing for software) after the end of the WGs mandate?

          • The Secretary General reminded the policy on this from the outputs and IPR task force. First of all there are 4 types of outputs: policies and documents, working papers, recommendations and implementations (s/w, i/f, API that uses specs). RDA owns the recommendations, while the implementations are owned by organisations doing the implementation. WGs need to have a maintenance plan for their outputs.
          • Andrew Treloar said that adopters can also help in this process and that there is not a definite answer yet.
          • Fran Berman stated that they rely on TAB and OA to come up with models that make sense. The WGs may also go to some special state and continue. She reminded that RDA is a volunteer organisation and that financing is only planned for the secretariat. There is no RDA incorporation and that this may be considered in the future.
          • Raphael Ritz stated that an organisation behind a WG can host and maintain some of the outputs, as is the case with the Data Foundation and the Type Registry WGs. He then added, that IGs having a long and undetermined life span, may also act as an umbrella for sustaining WG outputs.
        • Walter reminded that it may be useful to create a joint sub-committee of TAB and OAB to look on what’s happening with outputs.
        • Doris Wedlich (Council member) stated that the ultimate target should be industry uptake, although challenging.
        • Juan said that the OA can help in the adoption of the first outputs that may not be easy and that multiple targets can be set on different types of organisations and Fran added that different models can exist for large and small organisations.
        • Patrick Coquet highlighted that communication towards industry and commercial entities is crucial and that RDA should be answering to real and concrete problems. It is obvious that in the beginning the outputs will be small blocks but later on it will be better.
        • Ross Wilkinson (Council member) asked whether mass adoption may be the case, but it was felt that it was not easy.
        • Kevin Ashley agreed about the OAB-TAB joint work on the outputs adoption, defining how the WGs and their organisations will be involved, and that mass adoption is not easy.
        • Fran concluded that a strategy needs to be put in place and then to put it into practice.
        • Walter closed this part by stating that if outputs move out of RDA, then this will be certainly be a mass outputs adoption!
    2. New member recruitment
      • The next point in the discussion was the recruitment of new organisational members. The following points were made (not only on this subject):
        • Walter Stewart stated that the Task Force on adoption may also be expanded to tackle recruitment.
        •  Fran Berman stated that the San Diego Plenary 5 (9-11 March) will include an adoption day on the 8th. And the goal is to invite potential adopters there. A lot of side meetings (currently 12) will also take place raising awareness and possible new members.
    3. Any items that come up during the meetings
      The model of IETF on area director was brought forward as a valuable tool for herding WG/IGs and Andrew replied that this was discussed and now that the groups number has increased it can be considered.
      • Andrew stated that the RDA guidelines for co-chairs is also important and how to make sure that co-chairs work effectively, especially where multiple organisations are involved. In particular, CODATA WDS asked to come up with guidelines for the co-chairs and the TAB will be working on this. Input from OA is more than welcome. The co-chair arrangement for joint groups (e.g. RDA-WDS joint groups) need to cater for several points such as balance in region, mechanism for progressive role over tenure. And obviously to be aligned with RDA principles.
      • It was added that conflict resolution may also need to be put in place. And that conflicts should be exposed.
      • The model of reviewing papers was brought up as the one being used for reviewing Case Statement, where the magazine editor is the RDA secretariat and the reviewer is the TAB.
      • On the role of TAB vs. Council, it was stated that TAB recommends to the Council and the Council takes the final decision.
      • Laurel Haak stated that guidelines on membership, on leadership etc. will help WGs/IGs avoid spending time to work on the same issues again and again.
      • A question was raised on whether the appropriate bodies are involved in such discussions (on guidelines) and it was decided to turn around the question on who should be driving these? TAB-OAB or others? WG/IGs, Council? As there was not enough time it was proposed to discuss this topic in the next conference call. ACTION
      • John Wood stated that principles rather than hard rules are needed.
      • The model of IETF on area director was brought forward as a valuable tool for herding WG/IGs and Andrew replied that this was discussed and now that the groups number has increased it can be considered
  4. Any Other Business (5 minutes)
    • Next meeting: Walter stated that the next meeting will take place 7am Eastern US time in October.
  5. Membership signing photo (5 minutes)
    • A photo of the members that signed the organisational membership or subscription agreements took place.