RDA4EOSC - Research Data Alliance support to the internationalisation and implementation of EOSC

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The RDA4EOSC - Research Data Alliance support to the internationalisation and implementation of EOSC was coordinated by the Research Data Alliance Association AISBL and implemented with the support of the Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI) – Royal Irish Academy (RIA), Ireland and Digital Curation Centre (DCC), University of Edinburgh, UK. The activity took place between November 2020 and May 2021.
The activity aimed to support the implementation of EOSC and to lay the foundations for activities to be executed under the EOSC Future project (of which the RDA Association is a direct beneficiary). In particular, RDA proposed to support:
1.    scientific and research communities to prepare for engagement with EOSC,
2.    identification of a set of RDA technological and/or domain-specific solutions to be tested in the EOSC environment as well as the generation and approval of standards (ICT technical specifications) for application to EOSC.
3.    the internationalisation of EOSC through dedicated activities at the global RDA plenary meeting in April 2021.
4.    the animation of and interaction with a form of global funders and supporting European members of RDA governance bodies to interact and engage with their international counterparts to ensure awareness and understanding of EOSC.

Objectives & Challenges

1. Identifying and preparing new scientific & research communities to engage with EOSC:
Context: Science and research are international and know no geographical borders. There are a large number of domains and disciplines that are unaware, unprepared or uninterested in engaging in EOSC. Some of these scientific and research communities are engaged with RDA but many are not. Furthermore, the level of understanding, willingness and preparedness of many communities is very disparate.
Objective: identify and engage with the domains and disciplines through a comprehensive mapping exercise, involving an awareness and readiness level assessment and recommendations for engagement from 2021 onwards.  Communities not represented by European Research Infrastructures were targeted.

  • Defining a set of indicators to assess the awareness and readiness levels:
    • Social enablers: Roadmaps / Open Science (OS) / Research Data Management (RDM) policies; Training & skills; Consolidated domain initiatives/communities
    • Technical enablers: Infrastructures; Registries & data catalogues; Standards & vocabularies
  • Investigate underrepresented communities and what should be focus areas to improve engagement.
  • Spotlight on the successful communities and what we can learn from them.
  • Leverage on RDA Communities of Practice Framework

Adopting and implementing technological and/or domain-specific research data solutions in EOSC;
Connecting EOSC with the international stakeholders via the RDA governance;
Gaining international consensus and input on EOSC;
Engaging global institutions and policymakers;
Supporting the generation of standards for EOSC implementation.

2. Connecting EOSC with international stakeholders via RDA governance.
Context: RDA offers Europe an excellent window to the world. As a global organisation, RDA is the international neutral forum to establish global standards and best practices for data.
Objective: Supporting the global secretariat and ensuring that developments and achievements in Europe, particularly in reference to EOSC, are disseminated and communicated to the global community.
Activities: Supporting the volunteer, elected European governance members of RDA to participate in board meetings and RDA plenary meetings ensuring the EOSC mission, vision and values are disseminated and aligned with global discussions. Increased support was given to the Global Open Research Commons Interest Group to promote the GORC definition and GORC IG Case Statement. Assistance in producing collaterals on the GORC building blocks and core components, including a communique compiled in coordination with the Data Together organisations, aimed at outlining how the GORC and Global Open Science Commons are aligned.

3. Gaining international consensus and input on EOSC
Context: With global data experts from all stakeholders (infrastructures, software, computer scientists, information management, libraries, researchers, etc.) engaged as well as global geographical coverage (145 countries), as outlined in the EOSC Workplan 2019-2020, RDA is a key vehicle in implementing the EOSC and coordinating and influencing international activity. RDA offers an open and inclusive forum for EOSC consultation with users ensuring that the solutions proposed are consensus-based and community-driven. Gathering a global talent pool as well as offering capacity building for Europe and beyond, RDA is the natural home to facilitate EOSC implementation discussions. The new Global Open Research Commons IG has been established to share good practices and coordinate international efforts in this field. To date, a series of dedicated webinars have been organised by the Group of European Data Experts (GEDE) focused on EOSC and the specific support that RDA can offer.
Objective: Inform the global RDA stakeholders on the EOSC developments, requirements (in terms of technological solutions) and ensure engagement with all relative and pertinent stakeholders.  Identify and support the presentation of new Working and/or Interest groups to work on dedicated solutions for EOSC.  
Activities: A dedicated stakeholder forum in conjunction with the RDA 17th Plenary meeting (April 2021) raising awareness of and exchanging knowledge on EOSC in the context of other international initiatives of a similar nature.

4. Institutional, Policymaker and global stakeholder engagement
Context: With over 6,000 European data professionals and an additional 6,000 worldwide, RDA boasts a broad geographical, organisational as well as disciplinary and stakeholder coverage. RDA offers the EOSC secretariat and governance boards a direct channel and support for the identification of specific experts to support technological and multi- / inter- disciplinary discussions and solution development. The expertise within RDA can be leveraged upon to raise awareness with the many stakeholders of EOSC
Objective: Carry out an extensive consultation exercise leveraging on a survey and focused interviews to collect feedback (requirements, barriers and suggestions) on the organisational engagement with the EOSC.  Provide a series of policy briefs focusing on different aspects of engaging with the EOSC from an organisational perspective.  Deliver a series of coordination webinars targeting organisational representatives and facilitating dialogue with EOSC representatives as a channel to raise awareness and widen the organisational engagement.
Activities: Initial scoping with the RDA Organisational Members and interviews collecting perspectives on challenges from an organisational perspective, successful activities and next steps.

Main Findings

1. The work on “Identifying and preparing new scientific and research communities to engage with EOSC” was conducted through three main steps covering a mapping exercise, awareness and readiness assessment, targeted analysis and recommendations. It aimed to map awareness and readiness levels based on a set of indicators that reflected on the activities and developments in terms of infrastructures and services, policies and practices of domain communities relevant for their engagement with the European Open Science Cloud.
The assessment was run starting from a set of 15 domain / disciplinary communities. A matrix based on 6 key generic indicators was set up for data collection. After an initial assessment, the list of target domain / disciplinary communities was reduced to 5 deemed as underrepresented. Following the second round of data collection, a more detailed profile of the 5 domains was provided covering disciplinary strengths, challenges and recommendations for future engagement.

2. The work on “Connecting EOSC with international stakeholders via RDA governance” provided insights into the activities of global research commons to enable their alignment with the EOSC vision which led to the production of a high-level commons compendium.  Synchronisation and collaboration with the four “Data Together” organisations (CODATA, GO FAIR, RDA, WDS) clarified the differences and complementarity between the RDA GORC groups and the CODATA-led, Chinese government-funded, Global Open Science Cloud initiative.  EOSC & RDA held a joint workshop to showcase the EOSC Association and EOSC progress, spotlight the RDA4EOSC work and preliminary results and present RDA global activities on GORC and the GOSC / Data Together work.

3. The work on “Gaining International consensus and input on EOSC” involved the creation of 4 memos which focused on:

a.    Identifying and engaging with research communities through the RDA, focusing on the mapping activity in 1.
b.    Providing information on the RDA Communities of Practice, looking at how these new groups can develop connections between the RDA, EOSC and stakeholders outside these areas.
c.    provides an overview of the recent work done by the RDA Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Interest Group with the aim to bridge the work of RDA’s Working and Interest Groups with the global work of EOSC.
d.    RDA alignment with the SDGs and how it facilitates internationalisation of EOSC.

4. The work on “Institutional, Policy maker and global stakeholder engagement” focused on producing policy briefs and coordination webinars to discuss and promote some of the key EOSC Executive Board outputs such as the EOSC Interoperability Framework, the EOSC Rules of Participation, the EOSC Framework for Digital skills for FAIR and Open Science and the overarching EOSC Strategic Research and Innovation Agenda.

Main Recommendations

1. A few considerations and recommendations stemming from the work on “Identifying and preparing new scientific and research communities to engage with EOSC

A. Most of the communities assessed find themselves in the orange position of the signalling system as they are either aware but not (fully) ready or ready but not aware of the EOSC and the benefits of engaging with the EOSC community and joining the effort-tailored actions are needed to build the specific bridges needed
B. The more engaged communities are directly connected to the ESFRI (European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures) cluster projects - strengths differ, from strong federation e.g. ESCAPE to the diversity of services e.g. ENVRI-FAIR or training and skills e.g. SSHOC
C. Natural sciences, especially Earth & Environmental Sciences and Biological Sciences have the most data catalogues on EOSC Portal Marketplace as well as the highest number of services for data management, processing and analysis available.
D. Most disciplines explicitly prioritise the development of common standards especially metadata standards and share those through cross-disciplinary catalogues such as the RDA Metadata Standards catalogue or FAIRsharing.
E. Discipline specificities determine tailored approaches e.g. working with sensitive or personal data requires communities like the health and medicine and social sciences to prioritize AAI developments.
F. There are few disciplinary roadmaps or domain overarching OS/RDM policies – the more consolidated ones come from the ESFRI cluster projects but there are a few exceptions
G. Some of the disciplinary roadmaps also provide examples of how to potentially navigate or address the gap between industry interests and the academic agenda e.g. the EERA JPWind  as it has seen support and alignment from both the private as well as the public-funded research - an area of action challenging for most disciplines
H. Disciplinary input is crucial and needs to be considered at all levels from how data should be formatted and described to issues of incentives for sharing and reuse and data governance and long term preservation.
I. Social indicators or aspects are harder to assess and more challenging than the technical aspects as these bring together individual and organisational aspects and formal and informal structures that are difficult to evaluate.
J. As disciplines drive the technical developments and ensure their specificities are addressed, the overall EOSC community needs to focus on building an open environment that guarantees cross-fertilisation.

Read the final output RDA4EOSC Supporting the engagement of disciplinary research communities with the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC).

The report and underlying data have been open for consultation via a google document and spreadsheet.  A dedicated webpage, linked above, was set up and graphs were generated in order to allow a clear overview of the various levels of awareness and readiness of the communities assessed. The report details the approach adopted, general findings and comparison charts, as well as the separate considerations for the five underrepresented communities the study identified (2 Engineering and technology subdomains: Wind energy and Materials Sciences, 2 Natural sciences subdomains: Chemical Sciences and Biodiversity, and 1 Social sciences broader area: Public sector information / Open government data / Sustainable Development Goals SDGs). The report closes with a few recommendations for future work.       

2. Outputs from the work on “Connecting EOSC with international stakeholders via RDA governance”:
GORC and GOSC Communique.
Commons Compendium.
EOSC & RDA Workshop 23 April 2021
Further links to ongoing Global cooperation facilitated and supported by RDA

3. The 4 memos from the work on “Gaining International consensus and input on EOSC”:
Community Identification and Engagement
Communities of Practice
UN Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs)
EOSC Strategies

4. The outputs and results produced by the work on “Institutional, Policy maker and global stakeholder engagement”:

Policy briefs:

1.    Supporting the alignment of organisational research data management policies.
2.    Organisational approaches to enhancing skills and improving training.
3.    Addressing organisational interoperability.


1.    Supporting the alignment of organisational research data management policies – 7th May 2021.
2.    Organisational approaches to enhancing skills and improving training – 25 May 2021.
3.    Addressing organisational interoperability – 10 June 2021.