The Value of the Research Data Alliance to Libraries

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17 December 2018 27826 reads

Engaging with the Research Data Alliance

The Value of the Research Data Alliance to Libraries



RDA is a multi-disciplinary and cross-domain global initiative, offering an all-encompassing community of stakeholders. As the global community works towards the harmonisation of research data management, library professionals have skills and expertise which can contribute greatly to the development of best practices. Libraries offer significant contributions to the Research Data Alliance by:

  • Augmenting and enriching the worldwide network of international data experts and information professionals to address data challenges via RDA groups;
  • Contributing to the development and maintenance of high-quality, practical solutions for data interoperability in libraries across the globe, as well as addressing real-world challenges when creating and shaping RDA’s future Recommendations;
  • Acting as the bridge and communication hub for all activities surrounding the data creation and publication lifecycle;
  • Acting as RDA adopters who amplify, direct, and promote RDA Recommendations for the greatest effect and utility in libraries.

Libraries offer access to knowledge and data of the past, present and the future to their physical and virtual visitors every day and preserving cultural and scientific heritage for the long term. In this digital age, the focus, position and tasks of libraries are rapidly changing and they need to deal more and more with a growing amount of data. Many libraries around the world are stepping into new roles and reviewing their value propositions.



Library and information service professionals within RDA are one of the largest single stakeholder groups in the community, currently counting over 12% of the members[1]. There are many on-going activities in RDA of interest to libraries and their staff, and it is clear that libraries are taking the initiative in addressing the technical and social infrastructure needed to enable and sustain open research.




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 9,615 international members representing 137 countries (January 2020), has generated 32 concrete outputs (eight of which are recognized as European ICT technical specifications) with over 75 documented adoption cases (January 2020).
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 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



For the full RDA Value statement for Libraries click here

For the RDA Value for Libraries Powerpoint click here



The National Library of Ireland Adoption Case NLI[2] is developing a data publication policy, encompassing areas such as the appropriate licensing of born-digital and digitised collections, licensing of metadata, and data citation and persistent identifiers. This work aims to develop a policy which allows for the maximum openness of the data, while considering legislation and policy, including of course copyright legislation. The RDA & CODATA Legal Interoperability of Research Data: Principles and Implementation Guidelines[3] are being used to guide the research and development of this policy, particularly in regards to the open publication and licensing of NLI collections. The output provides high-level principles (for example, “Determine the rights to and responsibilities for the data”) while also detailing guidelines for the application of these principles to data collections. The use of the output to underpin the NLI’s policy will ensure a focus on openness where appropriate while balancing this with NLI’s legal obligations and the rights of creators and donors.

Figure 1 Overview of Legal Interoperability of Research Data: Principles & Implementation Guidelines