RDA's 20th Plenary Highlights

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28 March 2023 1598 reads

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Highlights of the Research Data Alliance 20th Plenary Meeting, 21-23 March 2023, Gothenburg, Sweden and Online

Hosted by Chalmers University of Technology, the University of Gothenburg and the Swedish National Data Service (SND), a three-day hybrid conference brought together researchers, data scientists, policymakers, and data stewards from disciplines from all over the world to share new ideas and explore best practices in using data. 

RDA Plenary meetings are the twice-annual meetings where the members of the RDA meet to discuss possible new topics through Birds of a Feather (BoF) meetings, hold Working and Interest Group and Community of Practice (CoP) meetings, and conduct RDA business. These plenary meetings serve as important milestones in the life of the Work of the RDA, especially in terms of achievements and outputs.

The Research Data Alliance celebrated its 10th Anniversary Plenary Meeting during the P20, going back to where RDA was launched in March 2013 in Sweden. Twenty Plenaries were organised over the past past decade with the following formats:

  • 14 In-person Plenaries: March 2013 - October 2019, all RDA plenary meetings were in-person events 
  • 3 Fully Virtual Plenaries: March 2020 - April 2021, RDA has organised fully virtual plenary meetings in collaboration with local organisers (March 2020 – Australia, November 2020 – Costa Rica, April 2021 - Scotland)
  • 1 Fully Virtual Plenary organised by the RDA Secretariat: November 2021
  • 1 Fully Hybrid 19th Plenary meeting as a part of International Data Week held as a hybrid event with onsite and fully virtual participations for the first time
  • 1 Fully Hybrid RDA's Plenary: 20th Plenary was organised as a hybrid event in collaboration with local organisers

Rundown of the RDA 20th Hybrid Plenary Meeting:

  • 719 participants (489 onsite and 230 online) from over 62 countries represented across 6 continents

  • 13 Co-located events (8 events were held on 20th March and 5 events on 24th March)

  • 53 RDA sessions of which there were

    • 7 Plenary meetings

    • 46 Breakout sessions in total of which:

      • 8 BoF meetings

      • 20 Interest Group meetings 

      • 10 Working Group meetings 

      • 7 Joint group sessions 

      • 1 Community of practice meeting 

Plenary Pathways:

For new members of the RDA community, the Technical Advisory Board (TAB) created a series of Plenary Pathways, as a means to navigate the rich programme by the following topics / areas of interest: 

  • FAIR, CARE, TRUST - Principles 

  • FAIR, CARE, TRUST - Adoption, Implementation, and Deployment 

  • Data Infrastructures and Environments - Institutional 

  • Data Infrastructures and Environments - Regional or Disciplinary 

  • Data Infrastructures and Environments - International 

  • Training, Stewardship, and Data Management Planning 

  • Semantics, Ontology, Standardisation 

  • Data Lifecycles - Versioning, Provenance, Citation, and Reward 

  • Discipline Focused Data Issues 

  • Research Software

  • Other (see below for topics under "Other")

    • Data ethics, data sharing

    • Data policy

    • Privacy, Security, Sensitive Data

The graph outlines the number of sessions per pathway, giving an indication of the current “trends” across the RDA groups and their topic focus.

Daily Highlights Summaries of the Research Data Alliance 20th Plenary Meeting

The second largest city of Sweden, Gothenburg has hosted the 20th Plenary meeting on 21-23 March 2023. The Research Data Alliance celebrated its 10th anniversary where it brought together professionals in data from all over the world! The modern venue of the Lindholmen Conference centre opened its doors to welcome old and new members of the RDA community. 

Day 1 - Tuesday, 21 March, 2023

The conference was opened by Sverker Holmgren, our moderator, where he welcomed attendees from all over the world to this session celebrating RDA’s tenure as a 10-year-old community-driven initiative with a mission to build the social and technical bridges that enable open sharing and re-use of data for the benefit of research. We had many speakers who has been very familiar with the plenaries and shared a few interesting facts. One of them was Hilary Hanahoe who gave us an overview of the RDA journey in the past 10 years - from 250 attendees and 14 ideas in Plenary 1, to 750 total attendees (virtual and in person) and 102 active groups at Plenary 20! 

Second “Back to the Future” plenary session (or Celebrating 10 years of RDA) focused on what will the next 5-10 years hold for the RDA. The panel session included discussions on breaking down silos and how creating better infrastructure would support data protection. At the end of the session, Ingrid Dillo surprised Hilary Hanahoe (RDA Secretary General) with a massive thanks and a gift on behalf of RDA Council. Hilary has been involved in all but one Plenary meetings - and has RDA and its community in her DNA! 

Another Plenary session ''Building Institutional Partnerships for the Future'' raised a few topics about issues that could apply to South-Eastern Europe (e.g. Serbia) – barriers across cultures, a translation burden - lack of funding, and the need for more collaboration with other regions. 

With a total of 12 breakout sessions on the first day of the plenary, day one was fully packed with a rich programme and attendees meeting each other online and during a Swedish fika at the Lindholmen conference centre. 

Day 2 - Wednesday, 22 March, 2023

The second day of the P20 kicked off with three packed breakout sessions with 20 sessions across the day. We were delighted to see several BoF sessions, with a number of them already discussing the creation of new Groups. 

After a very busy morning, we moved on to the Plenary session ‘Building Industrial Partnerships for the Future’. This session set the scene for the new framework "The Value of the Research Data Alliance to Industry'', released in December 2022. Henric Rhedin from Volvo, Mimmi Sundler from AstraZeneca, Monica Lassi from Ikea, Richard Pitts from Oracle and Dan Nygren from Amazon Web Services (AWS) as our speakers were invited to talk about the possibilities and impacts that an accelerated partnership between RDA and industry can have on the global data community. 

The second Plenary session of the day, ‘Building the RDA Community for the Future’ kicked off straight after. Hilary Hanahoe moderated this session focusing on the RDA community, inviting them to help us shape the RDA Strategic Plan for the next five years. Hilary Hanahoe from RDA, Jeff Horne from Wicket, Ingrid Dillo, and Jill Benn spoke about the vision and values of RDA, of the RDA family, the RDA's new upcoming website and work and the business of the organisation.

Day 3 - Thursday, 23 March, 2023

Day 3 started with a Plenary session on Building Platform Partnerships for the Future. Deliang Chen from the University of Goteborg (SE), IPCC, spoke about the challenges that the scientific community is facing in sharing policy-relevant knowledge. Mikiko Tanifuji from the Research Center for Open Science and Data Platform (JP) spoke about the 'I' of #FAIR - fails and successes in research projects. Tshiamo Motshegwa was up next with a talk on the African Open Science Platform (AOSP) and Dirk Pleiter from KTH Royal Institute of Technology were amongst other speakers contributing to the building partnerships for the future. 

Breakout sessions 6 and 7 combined over 14 RDA group meetings such as well-established interest and working groups and a couple of Birds of a Feather presentations. 

Finally, for the closing Plenary session, the Head of Research from AI Sweden, Magnus Sahlgren, presented insights into the value of AI for society and tackling societal challenges.


A full list of the RDA's P20 breakout sessions can be found in the RDA Plenary 20 Programme. RDA P20 session recordings are now available for those registered for the Plenary via the Whova event page https://rdap20.events.whova.com/Agenda. Following that, all RDA session recordings will be available for wider community on Monday, 1 May 2023.

Photo Gallery

Enjoy a photo gallery from the 20th Plenary meeting in Gothenburg, Sweden ⇒ RDA P20 Photo Gallery 


Thank you

Our sincerest thanks to the local hosts the Chalmers University of Technology, the University of Gothenburg and the Swedish National Data Service (SND) for their support and for organising such a wonderful hybrid conference. We would also like to thank all volunteers and the photographer for their generous support.

Next RDA 21st Plenary Meeting

We look forward to the next 21st Plenary Meeting as a part of International Data Week, 23-26 October 2023 in Salzburg, Austria and online


Post Plenary 20 Webinar 

The RDA’s Technical Advisory Board (TAB) hosted a post-Plenary 20 webinar to share the takeaways of the breakout sessions held during the event and discuss next steps. The webinar provided attendees a clearer understanding of the collaboration approaches among RDA groups, as well as an opportunity to hear directly from group chairs on their vision for future activities. The webinar agenda mirrored the RDA Pathways developed by the TAB to help community members navigate Plenary sessions, RDA groups, outputs and more. 

Two webinars were scheduled to accommodate as many time zones as possible. Both were recorded and made available for those unable to join:

RDA - Post Plenary 20 Webinar 1 -- Thursday 20 April 2023, 07:30-08:30 UTC RECORDING

RDA - Post Plenary 20 Webinar 2 -- Thursday 20 April 2023, 17:00-18:00 UTC RECORDING