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A festival of data – International Data Week 2023 in Salzburg

Between 23-26 October over 700 data professionals from 54 countries gathered in Salzburg for the International Data Week (IDW). IDW brings together SciDataCon and the Research Data Alliance Plenary, providing both typical conference sessions with presentations on latest practice and working meetings to advance the state of the art. The conference addressed a number of hot topics including AI and ethics, research assessment, machine learning and federation of research infrastructure. The full programme can be found online.

The “data and global challenges” plenary highlighted how the societal and scientific challenges of our age are fundamentally interdisciplinary and can only be addressed through the close collaboration of science, civil society, and government using cross-domain and multi-stakeholder research. Very impressive work was presented by Pier Luigi Buttigieg on the Ocean Data and Information System (ODIS) which is being developed under the UN Ocean Decade programme. Similarly to EOSC, this system is taking a federated approach to help all the oceanographic data centres to share structured metadata (using JSON-LD and in order to increase web visibility. The choice of standards was made due to market penetration so it’s simple for all stakeholders, including those in the global south, to access developers to help them integrate. ODIS is formed of a series of nodes to make it clear who holds what data and who needs what data, in which format and structure, to better inform the creators. As a follow on, the technical specifications for ODIS are being moved into the WorldFAIR Cross Domain Interoperability Framework so the architecture and model used for the oceans can be repurposed in other domains, helping to bridge them together.

Global Open Research Commons initiatives were also boosted in the RDA Plenary sessions with the release of the GORC international model and supporting documentation. This has been developed by mapping the components of a series of commons initiatives presented in a speaker series run over the past 18 months. The model addresses the essential elements and provides a spreadsheet of attributes and features to be considered under each. There are also a series of KPIs and metrics for assessing the commons based on measures used in the cases considered. Discussion in the session focused on adoption with a number of participants highlighting how it can be used in their domains and looking for further outputs from the group to profile implementation strategies.

The skills and support needed for research data management were also addressed in sessions covering data stewardship and training. Great examples were presented by the University of Vienna which has developed a series of in-person and online training for researchers on general concepts as well as tailored disciplinary practices. These have been progressed with the doctoral schools and through their team of data stewards to link researchers up to the courses. They have also established a certified data stewardship curricula and are now in the second iteration of the course with participants coming from all over the globe. Lessons were also shared from the data steward community in Flanders where the research funder has provided financial support for staff roles at each institution. They initially started a network online but underwent an in-depth assessment using the Community Canvas Framework to re-evaluate what members needed from the network and the best way to structure community sessions to facilitate peer-exchange and collaboration. The revisions have increased participation and engagement and strengthened bonds between members.

In the closing session we learned where we will be going next for RDA and IDW. RDA plenaries take place every 6 months, and in May 2024 there will be a fully virtual plenary followed by an in-person event hosted by CONARE in Costa Rica in October 2024. IDW meanwhile happens bi-annually and will be hosted in Brisbane, Australia by ARDC in October 2025. There is much to be learned at RDA and IDW by the NREN community, particularly where they are engaging in above-the-net services such as PIDs and repositories, so it’s worth highlighting the dates and keeping an eye out for announcements.

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