Updates from the Research Data Alliance for the ADHO Community

From: Bridget Almas, Research Data Alliance - ADHO Liaison
 
With the DH 2016 programme shaping up and the Research Data Alliance’s (RDA) 7th Plenary in Tokyo approaching, it seems like a good time to highlight some potential areas of cross-organization engagement.  
 
The mission of the RDA is to “build the social and technical bridges that enable open sharing of data.” It is largely a ground-up effort, with the work being heavily community-driven.  The barrier to entry is small, to become a member, simply agree with the guiding principles and create an account on the website.  What you do from there is up to you.  
 
The quickest paths to engagement and assessment of the value of participation in RDA are to do any of the following:

  • provide feedback on a request for comments for a new working group or interest group
  • answer one of the many calls for use cases
  • sign up to participate in an interest group, attend calls and contribute your ideas
  • explore the outputs of current and prior working groups and consider whether they provide solutions you need and could adopt

 
There is a lot of information available on the RDA site, and it can be hard to know what is relevant to the humanities.  Below are some of my personal recommendations based upon my own experience -- it is by no means an exhaustive list.  
 
Working Group Outputs ready for Adoption:
 

  • PID Information Types offers a conceptual model for structuring typed information to better identify PIDs, is and a common API interface for access to this information.
  • The Data Types Registry provides machine-readable and researcher-accessible registries of data types that support the accurate use (and reuse) of data.

 
One way to get more information about the outputs and how they solve real-word problems is to review the reports on how these outcomes have been adopted by other projects, such as the Platform for Experimental Collaborative Ethnography at  Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), the Materials Genome Initiative at Kent State University and the Deep Carbon Observatory, also at RPI,  I also recently did an analysis of two of them for my own use case that might be helpful to some.
 
Calls for participation and feedback:
The Data Publishing Workflows WG is looking for examples of scholarly data publishing workflows: http://bit.ly/1N48NHf
 
The Repository Platforms IG is also looking for use cases for domain-specific use of research data repositories: https://www.rd-alliance.org/use-cases.html-3
 
The Research Data Collections working group has issued a survey looking for details of your data collections use cases.
 
The Metadata Standards Directory working group outcome has just entered the period of community review and comments on its applicability and usefulness in the humanities domain would be welcome.
 
An Empirical Humanities Metadata working group has been proposed and needs comments from the community before it proceeds.
 
Interest Groups:
The following interest groups cover areas of interest to the humanities community:
 
Vocabulary Services
Geospatial
Digital Practices in History and Ethnography
Research Data Provenance
Data Fabric
 
Funding and time is clearly a stumbling block to participation.  All of us are overcommitted and overworked, but sometimes we have to take the long view. The whole point of the RDA is to try to find solutions for our data that allow us to spend less time reinventing the wheel and more on scholarship and innovation.  For adoption of outcomes, there are sometimes opportunities for seed funding to help get you started. RDA Europe has a number of funded adoption projects underway at the moment, and a call for adoption projects by RDA US has just closed. If these projects are successful, there may be future similar calls, but the goal is that the more projects that adopt the outcomes, the resources and implementations available for others to learn from and reuse will grow, reducing the cost of uptake.