The Value of the Research Data Alliance to Regions

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The Value of the Research Data Alliance to Regions [1]

The Research Data Alliance’s vision is Researchers and innovators openly sharing data across technologies, disciplines, and countries to address the grand challenges of society


The Research Data Alliance (RDA) is a community-driven organization whose mission is to develop the social and technical data infrastructure needed to drive innovation surrounding data sharing and data interoperability. 

Established in 2013, RDA supports more than 8,000 international members representing 137 countries, has generated 30 concrete outputs [2] (eight of which are recognized as European ICT technical specifications) with over 75 documented adoption cases (Feb 2019). The Research Data Alliance enables data to be shared across barriers through outputs developed by focused Working Groups and Interest Groups, formed of volunteer experts from around the world and drawn from academia, private sector and government. Participation in RDA is open to anyone who agrees to its guiding principles of openness, consensus, balance, harmonisation, with a community driven and non-profit approach.

RDA has a grass-roots, inclusive approach covering all data lifecycle stages, engaging data producers, users and stewards, addressing data curation, exchange, processing, and storage. It has succeeded in creating the neutral social platform where international research data experts meet to exchange views and to agree on topics including social hurdles on data sharing, education and training challenges, data management plans and certification of data repositories, disciplinary and interdisciplinary interoperability, as well as technological aspects.


RDA is composed of two equally important components that support RDA’s vision.  The distinctions between these components are important in understanding the value and engagement possibilities.

  • The Work of RDA is performed by the volunteer community through self-formed, focused Working Groups and exploratory Interest Groups to build the social and technical connections or bridges.
  • The Business of RDA is to support that community and facilitate the building and using of the bridges that enable open sharing of data.


There are thus several different ways for a region to engage with the RDA.


Value of RDA to Regions

RDA recognizes that strong partnerships with its Regional members are crucial to its success as an international organisation.  This is achieved through a complementary and mutually-beneficial relationship between RDA and its Regions.  RDA provides the forum for the international community to connect and share knowledge on all aspects of data sharing. This global perspective is a key strength of RDA given that the challenges in data sharing are present throughout the world. Value and benefits are realized through the Work and Business of RDA.

RDA supports the Regions in their Work by:

  • Disseminating Regional efforts to the global RDA community, where regions can expose their priorities and accomplishments
  • Facilitating connections & shared interests among Regions to support collaboration
  • Supporting Regional leadership to build the RDA community and create impact
  • Enabling international consensus to be built on issues of Regional importance

RDA supports the Regions in their Business by:

  • Supporting Regional development, administration, and leadership
  • Establishing a Regional Assembly and ensure it has an appropriate function/role and influence
  • Supporting Regional leadership to achieve fundraising goals
  • Providing organisational partnership and support for Regionally-hosted RDA plenaries
  • Hosting Regional websites
  • Providing official support and approval for use of the RDA brand in activities and efforts
  • Resolving and adjudicating conflicts


Value of regions to RDA

The regional composition of RDA creates an international forum that is hugely beneficial to legitimise and strengthen RDA recommendation and outputs. Regions contribute to RDA Work through participation in core activities (plenaries, Working Groups/Interest Groups, workshops, outputs and recommendations). Regions also contribute to RDA Business through contributions (in-kind, monetary, hosting plenaries, etc.)


Regions contribute to RDA Work by:

  • Supporting the vision, mission, and principles of RDA Global at the Regional level
  • Fostering a diverse data community by engaging a wide range of stakeholders within the Region to grow RDA impact
  • Supporting participation in plenaries and RDA-related activities

Regions contribute to RDA Business by:

  • Providing financial contribution
  • Providing in-kind support to the Secretariat
  • Facilitating the hosting and organizing of Plenaries
  • Shaping future directions
  • Contributing to the governance of RDA



The RDA Regional Engagement framework document and web space are available at
Additional information regarding governance, legitimacy, and how new Regions are created are outlined in the framework document.
Contact the RDA Secretary General, Hilary Hanahoe, at secretary.general[at] for a one-to-one call to discuss your regional engagement ideas.



  • RDA will establish an appropriate formal body to give contributing, new and aspiring Regions a voice in the business and strategy of RDA. This is proposed as the Regional Assembly.
  • The Regional Assembly will have an appropriate role in the RDA governance structures reflecting its high level of contribution to delivery of the RDA mission.
  • Each Region will be responsible for administering activities in their Region and for selecting a representative to participate in the Regional Assembly.
  • A Regional Advisory Board will be established and will consist of one representative from each contributing Region.
  • The Regional Advisory Board will elect Co-Chairs to participate on Council as observers to maximize the benefits of Regions to RDA and RDA to the Regions.
  • Funders from contributing Regions may participate in the Funders Forum to assist RDA in its vision, strategy and accountability.


Legitimacy of Regions:

  • Regions should be actively involved in RDA and represent a wide and diverse range of communities and stakeholders.
  • Regions should reflect the interests and needs of the broad data community they support in their activities.
  • Regions will be expected to have activities that support the initiatives and growth of RDA.


Creation of New Regions:

  • Groups interested in creating a new Region are encouraged to discuss with RDA the expectations, benefits, and relationship between a Region and RDA.
  • Regions will be recognized by RDA through a Formal Arrangement between a regional contact and the RDA Foundation [3].

[1] An RDA Region is loosely defined as a “national level” geographic entity or consortium of “national-level” entities, and is intended to be broadly representative

[2] RDA Outputs are the technical and social infrastructure solutions developed by RDA Working Groups or Interest Groups that enable data sharing, exchange, and interoperability.  These Outputs have an important impact in two areas: solving problems, and incorporation and/or adoption in infrastructure environments by individuals, projects and organisations. RDA Outputs have the following classifications: 1. RDA Recommendations; 2. Supporting Outputs; 3. Other Outputs

[3] Legal entity that represents the RDA community. The foundation is a UK based charitable organisation.