Under public health emergencies, and particularly the COVID19 pandemic, it is fundamental that data is shared in both a timely and an accurate manner. This coupled with the harmonisation of the many diverse data infrastructures is, now more than ever, imperative to share preliminary data and results early and often. It is clear that open research data is a key component to pandemic preparedness and response.
In late March, RDA received a direct request from one of its funders, the European Commission, to create global guidelines and recommendations for data sharing under COVID-19 circumstances. Over 600 data professionals and domain experts signed up and began work in early April 2020. They have produced a rich set of detailed guidelines to help researchers and data stewards follow best practices to maximise the efficiency of their work, and to act as a blueprint for future emergencies; coupled with recommendations to help policymakers and funders to maximise timely, quality data sharing and appropriate responses in such health emergencies.
On 30 June 2020, RDA published the final version of the RDA COVID-19 Recommendations and Guidelines on data sharing covering four research areas – clinical data, omics practices, epidemiology and social sciences - complemented by overarching areas focusing on legal and ethical considerations, research software, community participation and indigenous data.
The COVID-19 WG, from April 1st through June 30th, 2020, created more than five releases of the recommendations and guidelines, leading to the final endorsed version, "RDA COVID-19 Recommendations and Guidelines for Data Sharing," with ongoing efforts to add and review materials.
Citation: RDA COVID-19 Working Group. Recommendations and Guidelines on data sharing. Research Data Alliance, 2020. DOI: https://doi.org/10.15497/rda00052
RDA FOR COVID-19 Events
A series of weekly "RDA COVID-19 Update Webinar" occurred almost every Tuesday between April and June 2020 and provided updates on the overarching COVID-19, Legal and Ethical, Research Software, Community Participation Working Groups, Indigenous Data contribution, and the four research themes (clinical, omics, epidemiology, social sciences), along with an opportunity for members to ask questions. Recordings and presentations from these sessions are posted on the Events meeting links.
Past events include:
- Open science in time of pandemics: the experience of the Research Data alliance working group on COVID-19 in the international landscape - 4 September 2020
Panel discussion at Euroscience Open Forum in Trieste featuring Juan Bicarregui/STFC (Science and technology Facilities Council, UKRI); Brian Pickering/University of Southampton;Priyanka Pillai/University of Melbourne; Natalie Harrower/Digital Repository of Ireland, Royal Irish Academy; Anne Cambon-Thomsen/National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), France; Carthage Smith/Global Science Forum, OECD
- Understanding The Impact Of The RDA COVID-19 Recommendations And Guidelines On Data Sharing - 7 August 2020 - Recording
Leslie Borrelli McIntosh/RDA-US; Stephanie Russo Carroll (Indigenous Peoples)/Native Nations Institute; Dawei Lin (Clinical)/National Institute of Health; Natalie Meyers (Omics)/University of Notre Dame; Daniel Mietchen (Community Practice)/University of Virginia; Amy Pienta (Social Sciences)/ICPSR
- Open Data under the COVID-19 Pandemic - 5 August 2020
Claudia Bauzer Medeiros - FAPESP Program on eScience and Data Science and Unicamp & RDA Council, Anne Cambon-Thomsen - French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), Inserm and University Toulouse III Paul Sabatier, Dawei Lin - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases/National Institute of Health (NIAID/NIH), USA, and Amy Pienta - Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research, University of Michigan, USA, all members of RDA COVID19 Working Group
- RDA Ireland Meet The Experts Webinar - Data Sharing for COVID-19 Research: Recommendations and Guidelines from the RDA COVID-19 Working Group - 29 July 2020
Dr. Natalie Harrower and Timea Biro
- RDA France Webinar, An example regarding the organisation of international cooperation around COVID-19 data, Anne Cambon-Thomsen - Emeritus Research Director at CNRS, 9 July 2020 - Powerpoint presentation
- STM Asia Pacific Chapter Meeting, The Research Data Alliance COVID-19 Data Sharing Recommendations and Guidelines: by the community for the community, Hilary Hanahoe, Secretary General, Research Data Alliance, 8 July 2020 - PowerPoint Presentation
- Data sharing, trust, evidence-gathering and effecting change, particularly in a time of crisis such as the Covid-19 pandemic. A 35-minute discussion between John Pelan, Director of the Scottish Council on Archives and Hilary Hanahoe, Secretary General of the Research Data Alliance, 26th June 2020.
- Dataverse Community Meeting 2020. Panel on Improving and Standardizing COVID-19 Data Sharing The Research Data Alliance COVID19 Guidelines and Recommendations on Data Sharing, Hilary Hanahoe (Secretary General Research Data Alliance), 17 June 2020 - PowerPoint presentation
- STM Research Data Year Meeting, The Research Data Alliance COVID19 Guidelines and Recommendations, Ingrid Dillo - RDA Council Co-Chair & Deputy Director DANS, 15 June 2020 - Powerpoint Presentation
RDA for COVID-19 Profiles
The following are a series of profiles of RDA COVID19 working group contributors generated by regional programmes as a means of highlighting the regional contribution to this global effort.
My biggest takeaway from this experience is that there are no problems, only solutions. We, humanity, can find and build those solutions that will get us past COVID-19 and prevent future such disasters. The question is, will we do it.
Claire Austin: My experience as a participant in the RDA COVID-19 Working Group
This project clearly demonstrated the benefit of having the research software community collaborate on important strategic activities to increase the recognition and value of research software as a fundamental and vital component of research worldwide.
Michelle Barker: My experience as a participant in the RDA COVID-19 Working Group
Pre-COVID, this type of report would have typically taken RDA years to produce. The urgency of this situation made it possible to achieve what would have previously been considered impossible. Furthermore, it was done entirely virtually. This is unprecedented for RDA, which has always relied on face-to-face meetings to progress its work. I think we've realised how much we can achieve even by meeting virtually.
Kheeran Dharmawardena: My experience as a participant in the RDA COVID-19 Working Group
I had a strong desire to contribute in some way to the global response. The Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI), where I am Director, had released a statement about how, as a digital archive for HSS data, we intended to support preservation and access to COVID-19 related data, to fast track data deposit, and support to members in our areas of expertise.
Natalie Harrower, Director of the Digital Repository of Ireland
The recommendations are global and not just European, and they are based on sound community and vulnerable-group ethical imperatives. So I for one would like to see a more fundamental consideration of data sharing recommendations like this tied in with broader human-rights type discussion.
Brian Pickering, Senior Research Fellow, University of Southampton
The geographical as well domain diversity of the group’s expertise is well reflected in the document. A global pandemic impacts everyone; the response can’t be localised. An international initiative such as RDA demonstrates the power of a global community, knowledge and connectivity.
Priyanka Pillai: My experience as a participant in the RDA-COVID19 Working Group
RDA for COVID-19 in the news
News & articles
- European digital infrastructures in support of coronavirus research - European Commission, News article 30 April 2020
- Hungarian contribution to PaNOSC OSCOVIDA allows following COVID-19 pandemic in the country at county level
- Research Data Alliance finalizes COVID-19 data sharing guidelines
- The Global Research Data Alliance community response to the global COVID-19 pandemic - CORDIS, 29 May 2020
RDA publishes final version of COVID-19 recommendations and guidelines on data sharing - ScienceMag, 30 June 2020
RDA Publishes Final Version of COVID-19 Recommendations and Guidelines on Data Sharing - Global Health News Wire
Research Data Alliance finalizes COVID-19 data sharing guidelines, Healthcare IT News - COVIDnews, 8 July 2020
University of Cambridge researchers use mobile monitoring for early detection of COVID-19, MobiHealthNews, July 29, 2020
Data Sharing in a Time of Pandemic, Patterns Journal, Volume 1, ISSUE 5, 100086, August 14, 2020
Press clippings & sharing
The Working Group & subgroups
The main COVID-19 WG: for overall updates on the initiative, including announcements regarding the update webinars.
The COVID-19 sub-group by expertise and interest:
- Social Sciences
- Community Participation
- Indigenous Data
- Legal and Ethical
The RDA COVID-19 activities were conducted under the RDA guiding principles of Openness, Consensus, Balance, Harmonisation, Community-driven, Non-profit and Technology-neutral. The results and outputs are open to all.