Creating and Managing RDA Groups

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22 March 2016 28854 reads

This webpage provides an overview of Working Groups (WGs) (see “Creating or joining an RDA Working Group”),  Interest Groups (IGs) (see “Creating or joining an RDA Interest Group”) and Communities of Practice (CoPs) (see Creating or Joining a Community of Practice). It also introduces Birds of a Feather (BoFs) (see "Birds of a Feather”), which are not RDA groups, but special sessions to be held at a Plenary.

Please note that the documents herein are a work in progress. We want people to work through these guidelines and to provide constructive feedback on their usefulness. Please contact us with your feedback.


The Research Data Alliance accomplishes its mission primarily through several important mechanisms: (1) Working Groups; and (2) Interest Groups and (3) Communities of Practice. A fourth mechanism are short-term (4) Birds of a Feather (BoF) sessions held at Plenaries, which can lead to new Interest or Working Groups.

Any RDA member may initiate or join an RDA Working Group, Interest Group, Community of Practice, or a Birds of a Feather session. To become a member of the RDA, individuals should register with the RDA online community, thereby affirming their support for the RDA Guiding Principles.

Working Groups

RDA works to implement functional infrastructure through Working Groups (WGs) which are comprised of experts from the international community engaged in creating deliverables that will directly enable data sharing, exchange, or interoperability.  Working Groups conduct short-lived, 18 month efforts that implement specific tools, code, best practices, standards, etc. at multiple institutions. For more detail on the expected WG outcomes, see Working Group Outputs.

Working Groups undergo a review process before they are endorsed. RDA endorsement is dependent upon the Working Group committing to produce deliverables within an 18-month time frame that will be implemented and adopted by one or more specific communities. Working Group deliverables include, but are not limited to, technical specifications and implementation practices, conceptual models or frameworks, implemented policies, and other documents and practices that improve data exchange. These targeted, concrete efforts are the focus of RDA, but often the community needs to work together for a while to define these specific implementable activities. RDA has developed a process that enables groups of researchers and data scientists to define common issues and interests through longer-term Interest Groups. For more details see Creating or Joining an RDA Working Group.

Interest Groups

Interest Groups (IGs) are comprised of experts from the community that are committed to directly or indirectly enabling data sharing, exchange, or interoperability. Interest groups develop brief charters that also undergo a review process before the group is endorsed by RDA.  RDA endorsement is dependent upon the Interest Group serving as a platform for communication and coordination among individuals, outside and within RDA, with shared interests. They produce important deliverables such as surveys, recommendations, reports, and Working Group case statements. Interest groups must have international participation and a demonstrated community. They should not be for promoting specific projects or technologies.

Interest Groups undergo a review process before they become endorsed by RDA. Once endorsed, Interest Groups remain in operation as long as they remain active, subject to periodic evaluation of their activity and its relevance to RDA aims. If an Interest Group has been inactive for a year, a decision to dissolve it may be taken by Council. For more details see Creating or Joining an RDA Interest Group.

Communities of Practice

The concept of a Community of Practice (CoP) within RDA is based upon the notion that a specific discipline or domain area requires a forum and knowledge exchange platform, where both specific and generic data challenges can be discussed and resolved by experts from the community itself. Communities of Practice (CoPs) investigate, discuss and provide knowledge and skills within their discipline and/or research domain. Composed of experts from that area, CoPs are committed to directly or indirectly enabling data sharing, exchange and/or interoperability by serving as THE coordination focal point for RDA in those specific disciplines/research domains.

Communities of Practice are based around an Agreement document. Communities of Practice undergo a review before they are endorsed by RDA, and are reviewed periodically (every 18 months) after endorsement. For more details see Creating or Joining a Community of Practice.

Birds of a Feather sessions

Birds of a Feather (BoF) sessions are one-time sessions held at an RDA Plenary. The aim of a BoF session is to find other RDA members interested in the topic, and to explore whether there is interest in establishing an Interest or Working Group on the topic. For more details see Birds of a Feather.