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Calls for collaboration and access at RDA20

The WDS ITO was fortunate to send three representatives to the Research Data Alliance’s 20th Plenary in Gothenburg, Sweden during 21-23 March, 2023. Recent ITO Director Karen Payne and ITO Research Associate CJ Woodford led events, gave presentations, conducted a workshop, and continued to build community between like-minded individuals and complementary groups committed to interoperable digital research infrastructure.

Banner for RDA20. Text states "Research Data Alliance 20th Plenary Meeting", "Celebrating 10 years of the RDA", "A Decade of Data" in the top left corner and "Gothenburg, Sweden", "21-23 March 2023" in the bottom left corner. The bottom of the banner has logos from the sponsors including SND and RDA. The right of the banner is a collage of Gothenburg-centric photos, including the statue of Poseidon, bright orange loading cranes, a ferris wheel, and tram cars.
Karen Payne is standing at a podium and speaking, with her left hand raised to demonstrate a point.
Dr. Karen Payne, co-chair of the GORC IG and WG from its inception through March 2023, presented a comprehensive overview of the work that the RDA GORC WG is doing focusing on looking at national, domain and pan-national initiatives and identifying common features or attributes of Commons organizations, including common ideas about governance, AAI, and discoverability. Photo Credit: RDA Secretariat

Karen kicked off the week at the Building blocks of Global Research Commons: Europe and beyond co-located event on Monday, 20 March with a presentation on the status of the GORC-WG and the vital role EOSC has played in the development of outputs to date.This co-located event was immensely successful, with significantly more participants attending in person than originally expected and a mix of domain ambassadors and experts in the field showcased through presentations, lightning talks, and panel discussions. Karen concluded the event with the key takeaways: the need for regional interaction, including the private sector, engaging with and encouraging researchers to lead the way in partnerships, interoperability, discoverability, knowing our purpose, and keeping things simple and direct regarding the benefits of open science to researchers. The recording of this half-day session is publicly available.

The first official day of the conference was Tuesday, 21 March 2023. The WDS-ITO took a small reprieve from the bustling first-day lunch to have an informal meeting with Eshta Bhardwaj and Ruby Lindsay, our 2023 Student Travel Award recipients. The GORC-WG plenary session occurred during the first breakout session later that afternoon. The GORC-WG partnered with the EOSC Finnish Forum to first define the overall themes and methodology of developing the GORC-WG commons attribute model and then to showcase how the overarching themes can be identified and used by a commons. CJ, now co-chair of the GORC-WG, led the GORC-WG portion of the session, and provided a clear path from the current work status to the Research Data Alliance 21st Plenary in October 2023, when the final outputs will be delivered. Participants from the UK and USA both asked for preliminary versions of the outputs to be used immediately in their respective national contexts, and the GORC-WG committed to addressing how to package and share their intermediate outputs as they move into a Phase 2 evaluation of the commons attribute model.

9 hexagons with labels and icons fit together in the centre of the image., with "Global Open Research Commons - Essential Elements" in black font in the top left corner and a CC-BY usage licence attributed to "V1.1, GORC-IG, 2023" in the bottom right corner. The top 5 hexagons are white and read, from left to right, Human Capacity, Rules of Participation and Access, Governance Structures, Engagement, and Sustainability. The center hexagon is dark blue and reads Interoperability & Standards, and the bottom 3 hexagons are cornflower blue and read, from left to right, Compute, Storage, Netowrk, and AAI, Research Objects, and Services & Tools.
GORC-IG Typology of Research Commons Essential Elements. These Essential Elements are the foundation for the GORC-WG investigation into research commons attributes for interoperability and used by the EOSC Finnish Forum to define their role, structure, and impact. The three elements in blue are the underpinning digital elements that constitute the parts of the commons with which people interact. The five elements in white are the social/human elements that are needed to make the commons succeed. The central element in dark blue represents that way in which standards are at the core of a commons.
CJ (left) talks with a workshop participant (right).
Dr. Andrew Treloar (left) and CJ (right) digitize notes after the workshop with Karen (not pictured).

RDA20 officially ended on Thursday, 23 March 2023. However, co-located events continued into Friday, and CJ led the co-located GORC-WG Model Synthesis Workshop with 19 in-person participants and 3 online participants. Logistics and support for the workshop was graciously provided by RDA TIGER. The workshop would not have been nearly as successful without their efforts, and we are very grateful for their ongoing support of the GORC-WG. This workshop was a full day effort to consolidate and unify the review and evaluations done to date by the GORC-WG and set the stage for a stable internal version of the commons attribute model. The workshop was a fantastic success, and many excellent revisions to the model were identified. Issues and concerns identified during the model evaluation from October 2022 through March 2023 were also discussed towards the end of the workshop, and we came to several amicable conclusions as well as revelations on the direction and purpose of our outputs. The majority of this discussion is captured in the GORC-WG meeting rolling notes. The key takeaways of this workshop are the creation of version 0.5 of the commons attribute model as an official intermediary output of the GORC-WG that can be linked to and shared, the call for a graph database or network graph representation of the model to fully capture it’s interlinking and multi-perspective aspects, and the importance of side or secondary outputs such as an interoperable commons vocabulary and offering outputs multilingually.

In addition to the tasks and new directions inspired by the GORC-WG workshop, our interactions at RDA20 highlighted where our work intersected with other RDA groups as well as direct applications in the community. By attending breakout sessions throughout RDA20, we heard increasing calls for direct public access to the GORC-WG’s intermediary outputs, visualizations, and draft documentation. It was highlighted during the GORC-WG breakout session that the commons attribute model, even in draft form, would be immensely helpful to our colleagues from the USA. and the UK as they build commons to help them from missing key aspects and to find examples in their discipline. In other breakout sessions, specific aspects of our model such as the list of key performance indicators and secondary outputs such as our glossary were of particular interest as other RDA interest groups, working groups, and birds of a feather sessions look to build in these areas.

Since RDA20, the GORC-WG has grown to 57 members and we have gained several colleagues in neighbouring RDA interest groups. We are working with our co-chairs to release the intermediary outputs that we can at this stage, and we are inviting key community members to join the GORC-WG to focus on specific aspects of the model as well as connecting with other RDA groups to ensure we are reducing the chances of duplicate or redundant work. We are on-track to accomplish our timeline and have final outputs ready for November 2023.  Most importantly, thanks to RDA20, we have confirmation that our work is needed and anticipated by the digital research infrastructure community in general, and by the RDA community in particular.

We look forward to accomplishing all we can in the next 6 months, before RDA21! As the GORC WG moves into a phase 2 evaluation, we encourage new members to join our efforts, engage with our speaker series, and be a part of creating a global open research commons international model.

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