15th RDA Plenary: Not down under for three days but up online for three weeks

Author: Ricarda Braukmann (DANS)

This year’s spring RDA plenary meeting was supposed to take place in Australia, but due to the global COVID-19 crisis the meeting has been cancelled just like most of our planned events.

Luckily, we live in the digital age and the RDA did an incredible job to set up an online event that we all can join from our home offices. Instead of coming together for three days on 18-20th of March, the 15th RDA plenary has spread out virtual activities over three weeks: from the 18th of March to the 9th of April everyone can join various keynotes, Birds of a feather (BoF) sessions or attend their favorite Interest Group (IG) or Working Group (WG) meetings.

Hilary Hanahoe, RDA Secretary General, kicked off the virtual RDA plenary meeting, addressing the community in a personal video on the 18th of March. From Wednesday to Friday the first IG and two WG came together to virtually meet and discuss on Zoom.

The following week started with a keynote by Priyanka Pillai, Academic Specialist on Research Data Stewardship and Health Informatics from the University of Melbourne. On Tuesday 24th of March, she gave the first-ever virtual RDA keynote discussing the Role of Data in a Rapid and Coordinated Response to Infectious Disease Outbreaks. The keynote was recorded and is available online.

During the rest of that week, two Interest Groups, three Working Groups and five BoFs were organized, including a BoF on Creating an RDA Interest Group on FAIR Digital Objects.

Last week, another five IGs and 3WGs came together, discussing for instance FAIR Health data, Research Metadata Schemas, and RDA Mentoring programmes. Two BoFs were held, one on Science Communication for Research Data and another on Data Granularity: User Perspectives, Data Citation and Data Versioning.

While not being physically together, there is a lot happening online and more groups are planning virtual meetings for the remainder of the RDA. Several groups are even offering meetings twice to accommodate scholars in different time zones.

This week when the virtual plenary will cover a keynote by Dr Cathy Foley Chief Scientist, Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). On Tuesday at 4:15 am UTC, she will be talking on "Thinking about Data Differently – If Data is the 'New Oil' will it Mean We Will Have Regrets in Decades to Come?’. Moreover, so far 2 BoF, 4 IG and 4WG meetings are planned. PID lovers can join the PID IG meeting on Thursday at 4:00 pm UTC - 5:30 pm UTC which will include updates from ROR and DataCite. This week, you can also still visit the virtual poster session and vote for your favorite poster!

The COVID-19 crisis has made it more clear than ever how important FAIR and Open data are and we will continue to work together. For now, you can still  join the virtual RDA meeting so check out the programme that is continuously evolving and join your favorite sessions online.