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Research Data Alliance 6th Plenary Meeting: German Data forum hosts session on sensitive microdata

This year’s autumnal meeting of the Research Data Alliance (RDA) attracted 700 interested participants to Paris to discuss the initiative’s current activities in the field of research data. Since its inception two years ago RDA membership figures have grown rapidly to a total of 3,200 members from 103 countries. The range of disciplines represented in the initiative, which includes life and natural sciences as well as the social sciences and humanities, are also remarkable. Barbara Ryan, keynote lecturer and managing director of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) initiative, found the right words to describe our global world of research data: “Countries have borders, research doesn’t.”

The plenary participants discussed work results, new ideas, and ways of application in numerous breakout sessions organized by the 56 working and interest groups and 26 so-called Birds of a Feather sessions (Bof). The working groups Publishing Data Bibliometrics, Publishing Data Services, Publishing Data Workflows, and Repository Audit and Certification DSA-WDS Partnership, which were created in cooperation with the WDS (ICSU World Data System), presented their recent work results (deliverables) to the audience.

The German Data Forum, which is an organizational member of RDA, hosted its own BoF session on international access to sensitive microdata in the social and economic sciences. Following a presentation by the German Data Forum business office on the well-established research data infrastructure in Germany, Mary Vardigan (ICPSR, University of Michigan) talked about metadata in an international context. Katharina Kinder-Kurlanda (Data Archive for the Social Sciences, GESIS Cologne) then gave an overview of current developments regarding international data access. The 40 session participants subsequently discussed how these various initiatives and solutions could be picked up and jointly developed further from within RDA.

A number of private companies were invited to the conference under the slogan “Enterprise Engagement” to showcase their approaches to innovative uses of data. About 21 start-ups as well as small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) followed the conference call and presented themselves and their products during the first ever Experimentation Day. The company Plume Labs was named the winner of the RDA Climate Change Data Challenge for an app that provides users with location-based information on air quality based on open data. In future Experimentation Day will continue to foster interaction between RDA members and private sector initiatives.

The next RDA plenary meeting (“Making data sharing work in the era of Open Science”) will take place in Tokyo, Japan from 1-3 March 2016.