RDA's 21st Plenary Highlights [part of IDW2023]

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30 October 2023 243 reads

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Highlights of the Research Data Alliance 21st Plenary Meeting as a part of International Data Week (IDW) 2023, Salzburg, Austria and Online (23-26 October 2023)












Fourth Edition of the IDW:

IDW 2023 combined 21st RDA Plenary Meeting, the biannual meeting of this international member organization working to develop and support global infrastructure facilitating data sharing and reuse, and SciDataCon 2023, the scientific conference addressing the frontiers of data in research organized by World Data System (WDS), the Research Data Alliance (RDA), and World Data System (WDS).

RDA plenary meetings are the twice-annual meetings where the members of the RDA meet to discuss possible new topics through Birds of a Feather (BoF) meetings, hold Working and Interest Group and Community of Practice (CoP) meetings, and conduct RDA business. These plenary meetings serve as important milestones in the life of the work of RDA, especially in terms of achievements and outputs. Within ten years, the RDA has hosted 21 Plenary Meetings.

All RDA's 21st Plenary sessions were recorded and now available to registered participants on the IDW 2023 event platform, Whova, until mid-January 2024. The recordings for the winer community will be available six weeks after the event.


Rundown of International Data Week 2023, including the RDA's 21st Hybrid Plenary Meeting:



Rundown of the RDA's 21st Hybrid Plenary Meeting

  • 834 participants (702 onsite and 132 online) from 48 countries

  • 154 IDW 2023 Sessions of which there were

    • 6 Plenary meetings with:

      • 1 RDA Adoption & Impact Plenary Session

      • 1 CODATA – WDS Organisational Plenary Session

    • 99 posters from across the world

    • 109 SciDataCon talks

    • 45 Fully Hybrid RDA Breakout  Sessions of which there were:

      • 14 BoF meetings 

      • 6 Interest Group meetings 

      • 20 Working Group meetings 

      • 5 Joint group sessions 

Plenary Pathways:

For new and less seasoned members of the RDA community, the Technical Advisory Board (TAB) created a series of Plenary Pathways, as a means to navigate the programme by the following topics / areas of interest. P21 pathways included:

  • FAIR, CARE, TRUST - Principles 
  • FAIR, CARE, TRUST - Adoption, Implementation, and Deployment 
  • Data Infrastructures and Environments - Institutional 
  • Data Infrastructures and Environments - Regional or Disciplinary 
  • Data Infrastructures and Environments - International 
  • Training, Stewardship, and Data Management Planning 
  • Semantics, Ontology, Standardisation 
  • Data Lifecycles - Versioning, Provenance, Citation, and Reward 
  • Discipline Focused Data Issues 
  • Research Software
  • Other (see below for topics under "Other")
    • RDA capacity building
    • Legal or Policies
    • FAIR Semantics
    • Transforming Research and improving diversity and impact in society through Arts and practice based approaches
    • HPC
    • Reproducible research, research integrity, open science, beyond FAIR
    • Cross disciplinary issues
    • Policies

The graph outlines the number of sessions per pathway, giving an indication of the current “trends” across the RDA groups and their topics’ focus.

Post 21st Plenary Webinar 

The webinar, organised by the Technical Advisory Board, offers to the whole RDA community an opportunity to understand the key takeaways and next steps from the RDA 21st Plenary Meeting Sessions. This is going to be a third webinar of this type being offered at RDA. The aim is to provide members a clearer understanding of the collaboration approaches among RDA working and interest groups, as well as an opportunity to hear directly from chairs on their vision for future activities. REGISTRATION IS OPEN.

Daily Highlights Summaries

From Monday 23rd to Thursday 26th of October, the RDA’s 21st Plenary was held on site and online as part of the International Data Week (IDW) festival in Salzburg, Austria.

Amongst IDW discussions on topics such as inclusivity in open science and global challenges facing data science and policy, the RDA and CODATA delivered over 154 sessions and presentations across 6 breakout sessions. This included two fully virtual networking sessions in addition to on-site networking opportunities and socializing at a music reception and bar-hopping event.

The Committee on Data of the International Science Council and World Data Systems also held SciDataCon during IDW. This international conference encouraged scrutiny and discussion of the frontier issues of data in research, delivering a whopping 102 talks across four days of the event.

With the combination of the RDA 21st Plenary, SciDataCon and IDW sessions all running parallel to one another in the Salzburg Congress, like-minded experts and organisations  passionate about data were able to participate in cross-disciplinary conversations, allowing for invaluable networking opportunities and collaboration.

45 RDA plenary sessions covered a huge variety of topics, allowing attendees to sign into a collaborative notes document and contribute to the discussion in real-time while presenters delivered presentations. At the end of each day, an editor representing the RDA shared their highlight of the day to attendees, which we’ve collated below. All recordings of the RDA sessions and IDW plenary sessions are available to watch on Whova for those who are registered for the IDW 2023. Recordings will be made available for the wider community 6 weeks after the event. 

To view details about every session held over the course of the 21st Plenary, including access to the collaborative notes documents, visit the programme here and click through to see the individual pages for each session.

A full list of RDA Breakout Sessions can be found in the RDA Plenary 21 Programme. If you attended IDW, either in person or virtually and you missed any of the RDA sessions, you can access the session video recordings via the Whova event website up until mid January 2024. Following that, all RDA session recordings will be available on the RDA Youtube channel.

Day 1

ECI and LMIC engagement in the RDA: this session discussed the very important for the community topic of Early Career Researcher and Lower and Middle Income Country participant engagement in RDA. A number of issues were discussed, which make it harder for Early Career and Low and Mid income countries to engage with RDA. Some of them are shared (e.g., costs), while in some cases, LMIC country participants face additional challenges (e.g., technological restrictions). The meeting also focused on coming up with engagement and mitigation strategies, with the following suggestions for consideration: 

  • Researchers and ECIs need to be named as speakers on conference/Plenary programmes in order to apply for funding to attend. Ensure that the programme caters for named speakers.

  • Provide structured support on travel and visa applications from experienced and skilled members that have participated in the past.

  • Get an idea of preferences for social engagement, as well as limitations of hybrid engagement in RDA meetings.

  • Continue to enhance regional activity support for countries with low RDA community numbers.

  • Make RDA regions (nodes?) and their multilingual translations more visible to the global community.

  • Each group could nominate a 'buddy'/'welcoming member' to onboard newcomers and welcome them to the RDA group mid-lifecycle.

Day 2

 RDA Outputs and Adoption session 

The session gave a first sneak peak of the brand new RDA strategy 2024-2028. This was followed by an overview of the RDA Organisational Assembly and its crucial role in signing off on RDA outputs. Wim Hugo gave a vision of how RDA can track and tag outputs in order to demonstrate input via a front end ‘Maintenance Facility’ which will better harness RDA outputs. Four RDA adopters told their stories of how RDA outputs were rolled out in their respective contexts. Four very different presentations focused on the practical roll out. Daniel S Katz also highlighted the deeper issue of how RDA can harness the outputs via looking at what we can learn from processes such as organisational change. The discussion focused in order to  look for successful impact. It is Crucial to ensure that the RDA outputs are more adoptable and we need guidance on how impact is expected to happen. 

The main takeaway is that we need a navigation of RDA outputs but also to maintain the integrity of RDA. One solution is to focus on looking at packaging multiple set of recommendations. Regional engagement is useful here. We also need champions, for example to convince top management? It was also pointed out that top management love certification, if the outputs can head towards that. 

Day 3

After a long break, allowing for a walk in the sun, the programme continued with the fourth RDA Plenary breakout. The session FAIR Metadata for Machine learning was a lively,  busy and hard working event. It is worth pointing out that there is little metadata out there for other research objects.

The group is mobilising to do the following: 'solve the fact that there is no systematic approach as to how we work with machine learning and algorithms.' 

If the community can define the processes and map the FAIR principles to them, we will be closer to solving how to integrate FAIR into machine learning. There will be an effort from NFDI for Data Science to harvest metadata from different sources, and make it comprehensive and harmonised data. For example, better provenance is needed, as scripts are often missing.

The session also discussed how exactly Machine Learning Algorithms can be interpreted in different ways. Format definition could be a concrete start to solving the issue. 

With lots of discussions and ideas having begun, the next stop is to synthesise it all and head to a possible set of outputs, a continuation of the IG or a potential WG. 

Day 4

A sneak preview at the next iteration of the RDA Plenary in Costa Rica was beamed in from colleagues from CONARE. Latin America is an important stakeholder to RDA and we are delighted to have the opportunity to have our next hosts in Costa Rica and to combine data sharing approaches from across the world. 

The RDA FAIR Digital Object Fabric IG demonstrated hands-on examples of implementation of RDA outputs into real pilots of how to implement the workflow of an FDO incorporating existing services. A hugely interesting presentation also flagged up how FDO’s have relevance in industry in China.  

It was a privilege to meet our active and enthusiastic community in-person again. As ever the message is reinforced: it makes sense to meet face-to-face. So much gets done during this long week, it's hugely rewarding, sometimes exhausting, but always enjoyable. And thanks to our remote participants, we hope you also found it inclusive and worthwhile.

On behalf of the RDA, we would like to remind our community that the Strategic Plan for 2024-2028 is still open for feedback until the 10th of November. You can read the plan here, and submit your feedback by completing this form.


Check out the IDW 2023 photo gallery. Are you there?


Recordings of the IDW Plenaries, Research Data Alliance 21st Plenary Breakout Sessions, and the SciDataCon2023 parallel sessions are now available to view in Whova for those who were registered. Simply head to the 'Agenda' area in Whova, navigate to the date on which the session was held, then click the link to be taken to the recorded video. The recordings will be made available to the wider community on 7th December 2023.

Thank you

Our thanks to the local hosts the University of Salzburg through its Data Science and Geoinformatics departments, supported by the Governor of Salzburg and with assistance from the Austrian Academy of Sciences - GIScience and the European Umbrella Organization for Geographic Information for their support and for organising the first European International Data Week. We would also like to thank our co-founding partners in International Data Week, the International Science Council’s (ISC) Committee on Data (CODATA), and World Data System (WDS).

RDA 23rd Plenary Meeting - Save the Date!

We are pleased to announce the 23rd Plenary meeting that will be held in San Jose, Costa Rica from 12-14 November 2024. Find out more details.

IDW 2025 - Save the Date!

We look forward to the next edition of International Data Week 2025 from 13-26 October 2025 in Brisbane, Australia.