RDA 11th Plenary Berlin: Active DMP Excitement

Now that the dust has settled, here are a few thoughts and reflections from March's 11th RDA Plenary in Berlin, with a focus on Data Management Plans (DMPs).

DMP Common Standards WG

My participation in this plenary began with the DMP Common Standards WG meeting tasked with finding practical ways to make DMPs machine-actionable. We were pleasantly surprised by the number of participants, most of who perhaps aren't interested in the technical minutiae of the WG conference calls, but are nevertheless interested in the general discussion and wish to be included in shaping the outputs and recommendations of this group.* [Theme 1]

More importantly, many participants had questions to ask and insights to offer during the Towards a Common Data Model moderated discussion to the extent that, unavoidably, many conversations spilled over into the coffee break and the immaculate corridors of Berlin's Congress Center! This happily points to a clear need to listen and gather insights from as wide a stakeholder base as possible if we want our recommendations to be useful to the widest possible audience.

Points of interest:

  • Lightning talks where we presented various DMP-related tools' approaches to modelling this subject area. [Slides]
  • By Common Data Model we mean finding a way to let funders ask their questions and receive answers in a standard, well-defined way that does not restrict expressiveness and represents the very diverse approaches and requirements that different groups and organisations have.* [Theme 2]
  • DMPRoadmap data model's emphasis on KISS principle (Keep It Simple & Straightforward): 
    Plans use Templates - Templates have Phases, which contain Sections with Questions in them.
  • Missing DMP data may be the result of a question that was never asked. [DCC's Kevin Ashley]
  • There may be a middle ground between free-text and machine-readable content in the concept of Themes.
  • More emphasis on integration between APIs, data sources and tools as opposed to simply exporting/sharing DMPs. 

Emerging themes:

  1. The first emerging theme was convergence & collaboration: collect as many user stories as possible for maximum inclusivity.
  2. By extension, the need to avoid overspecification & overengineering in the WG's outputs, to prevent having to shoehorn diverse standards and methodologies into a narrow data/metadata model in the future.
    • This is what makes many recommendations that look good on paper unusable in the real world.

Exposing DMPs WG

Another full room at P11, this time for the Exposing DMPs WG meeting:

  • Lightning talk presentations on the subject of sharing DMP content by Angus Whyte (DCC), David Carr (Wellcome), Elena Zudilova-Seinstra (Elsevier RDM Solutions), Iain Hrynaszkiewicz (BMC Research Notes), Sandra Gesing (Open Science Framework), Stephanie Simms (CDL).
  • Use cases for exposing DMPs
  • Real-time voting: Which use cases should we spend our time on? - showed great interest on the subjects of Integration and Evaluation.

Favourite moment

Resolutely debugging the RDA Metadata Standards Catalog with Alex Ball during a coffee break - having coffee standing up Italian style, furiously typing into laptops & tablets, we must have been a sight!

RDA Plenaries are an excellent opportunity for learning and collaboration, as there's so much experience around in many different subject areas - so many user stories, and so many different perspectives to stimulate conversation and one's interest in previously unexplored topics.


Full room at DMP Common Standards WG... ...and at Exposing DMPs WG!

Photos: Tomasz Miksa, Jimmy Angelakos