The Value of the Research Data Alliance to Industry

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20 December 2022 6451 reads

Engaging with the Research Data Alliance

The Value of the Research Data Alliance to Industry

Date: Dec 2022 (v1.0)

  1. Context:

Established in 2013, the RDA is a global, consensus-based, community-driven organisation of over 13,000 individuals, 73 organisational members and over 35 regional networks from 148 countries, whose mission is to provide a platform to drive innovation surrounding data sharing and interoperability. The RDA enables data to be shared and re-used across geographical, technological and disciplinary boundaries, through outputs developed by groups and volunteer experts from around the world, and drawn from academia, the private sector and government. The global RDA community has produced over 100 flagship outputs and recommendations, openly available for adoption and implementation.

RDA offers access to a global community of data experts, using open and community driven mechanisms to develop open science, open research and FAIR solutions in support of digital transformation. This framework to engage with industry / private sector has been developed to act as an instrument to add value to the RDA community, offer professional and timely services to support the global volunteer effort driving the creation of RDA recommendations and outputs. There are many important benefits and opportunities for the RDA community and individual experts including increased communication and clarity on RDA recommendations, long-term recommendation sustainability and important global visibility and impact through partnership with global orgranisations. Finally, this framework is defined in response to the recommendations and priorities defined in the RDA Financial Sustainability Plan[1] and the RDA Strategic Plan 2020 – 2023[2].

  1. RDA Vision, Mission and Values

The Research Data Alliance vision is that Researchers and innovators openly share and re-use data across technologies, disciplines, and countries to address the grand challenges of society. This vision is achieved through the RDA Mission of building the social and technical bridges that enable open sharing and re-use of data. RDA conducts both its business and its work according the six fundamental Guiding Principles or values, namely:

  • Openness – Membership is open to all interested individuals who subscribe to the RDA’s Guiding Principles. RDA community meetings and processes are open, and the deliverables of RDA Working Groups will be publicly disseminated.
  • Consensus – The RDA moves forward by achieving consensus among its membership. RDA processes and procedures include appropriate mechanisms to resolve conflicts.
  • Inclusivity – The RDA seeks to promote broad, balanced and inclusive representation of its membership and stakeholder communities.
  • Harmonization – The RDA works to achieve harmonization across data standards, policies, technologies, infrastructure, and communities.
  • Community-driven – The RDA is a public, community-driven body constituted of volunteer members and organizations, supported by the RDA Secretariat.
  • Non-profit and technology-neutral - RDA does not promote, endorse, or sell commercial products, technologies, or services and the development of open and re-usable recommendations and outputs within the RDA is mandatory.

All activities conducted as part of and governed by the private sector engagement framework must adhere to these Guiding Principles[3] and the RDA Code of Conduct[4].

  1. Framework Concept

The RDA facilitates many activities leveraging on the well-established, community driven, open mechanisms of the RDA global community. RDA Working Groups (WGs)[5] are formed to develop concrete solutions and recommendations to support the open sharing and re-use of research data. The members driving the work are international experts working in an open and community driven consensus forming manner. All outputs, deliverables, results etc. of the RDA community activities (WGs etc.) are governed by the RDA guiding principles and are open and reusable by the whole community. RDA WGs have a duration of between 12-18 months, however facilitated WGs can have a shorter life span (RDA COVID WG (see section 4.1 below) ran for 6 months and produced six versions of recommendations).

Private organisations are encouraged to sponsor facilitation activities to ensure that the volunteer community work is coordinated by a dedicated, independent RDA staff member or expert, a portion of whose time, will be dedicated to managing and facilitating the group work.

The group structure and composition will be the same as all RDA working groups, with a dedicated expert Technical Advisory Board (TAB)[6] member, at least two international co-chairs expert in the focus area, all RDA community members are invited and encouraged to join the group and contribute to the discussions and outputs.

RDA will identify a series of international experts to be invited to a kickoff dedicated brainstorming workshop, to discuss, identify and define the focus of the WG and a case statement will be drafted by the facilitator. Once defined, the WGs will open for all RDA community members to participate and contribute.

    1. Periodically assessing engagement

In accordance with the RDA guiding principles[7], the progress of the working group and specifically the model of a public private partnership leveraging on open, global expertise will be analysed at 3-month stages, through surveys and open consultation with the community and the experts involved in the working groups. The results of these analyses will be shared with the private partnership organisation and the RDA community at large. The results of the analysis will serve to fine tune and modify the model for the benefit of both parties and act as a basis for further agreements. No confidential or personal data will be shared in the outcome reports.

    1. Promoting and communicating the activities

RDA and the private partnership organisation will jointly agree on frequent community updates on Working Group progress and achievements to be disseminated and communicated to the RDA community and a broader audience. All communications would be co-branded, and the content mutually approved. Any publications resulting from the working group activities would reference the support / sponsorship.

  1. Outputs & By-products

The RDA WG outputs will be open and available to the RDA community via the RDA web platform and follow the existing processes and procedures for RDA Outputs & Recommendations[8][9]. This includes the licensing of RDA outputs and recommendations as per procedures[10]. Specifically, all RDA Recommendations and Supporting Outputs are under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)[11] and all authors, generators, contributors and users of RDA Recommendations are governed by these licensing regulations.

    1. Examples of RDA Outputs & Recommendations

One example of a specific, facilitated (not sponsored) project within the RDA global community was the work executed in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 WG, from April 1st through June 30th, 2020, created more than five releases of the recommendations and guidelines, leading to the final endorsed version, "RDA COVID-19 Recommendations and Guidelines for Data Sharing," with ongoing efforts to add and review materials.

In terms of academic publications, two examples include[12]:

  1. Example of implementation of RDA COVID-19 WG recommendations: Austin, CC, Widyastuti, A, El Jundi, N, Nagrani, R, RDA-COVID19-WG (2020). COVID-19 Surveillance data and models: Review and analysis 
  2. Example of benefits of RDA and global community collaboration: Pickering B, Biro T, Austin CC, et al. Radical collaboration during a global health emergency: development of the RDA COVID-19 data sharing recommendations and guidelines [version 1; peer review: awaiting peer review]. Open Research Europe 2021, 1:69 (
  1. Facilitation effort & support

The table below outlines the activities and facilitation steps involved in the execution of a dedicated “sponsored” RDA Working Group. The exact timing & dedicated person effort will be defined within the contractual agreement.


Facilitation Steps


Negotiation & Definition




Assessment & Adjustment


Negotiation & Renewal




WG focus identification & definition


WG documentation


Recommendation curation


Press releases


community communications


Promotion of results


Press & communications campaigns


Chairs identification & co-ordination


WG member management


Monthly meetings


Documentation generation & stewardship


Surveys, webinars, meetings


Sponsor coordination & communication

  1. Costs

The total cost for the delivery of all activities according to the timeline will be agreed with the private organization directly.  The facilitation will be executed by a member of the RDA staff (either the core global office or one of the regional contacts). The agreement, upon review of the achievement of expectations and results by RDAF and the private organisation, and upon mutual accord, may be renewed at an additional cost for a further period to extend the activities and timeline or to deliver further areas of activity.

  1. Contractual Agreement

The engagement with industry will be governed by a mutually agreed contract including all details of the open deliverables, outputs and the licensing aspects. The contract will include details on the costs, payment schedule and the details of the RDA assigned facilitator for the duration of the work.


[5] Full details on RDA Working Group (WG) process at

[7] RDA activities are conducted according to six fundamental guiding principles, namely Openness, Consensus, Inclusivity, Harmonization, Community-driven and Non-profit and technology-neutral. Full details on these guiding principles are available online at

[12] A full list of publications related to the RDA COVID-19 Working Group activities is available online at