First Meeting of New Research Data Alliance March 18 in Sweden Will Feature Leading ‘Big Data’ Experts and Others Working To Make Research Data Easier To Share

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Professor Fran Berman To Lead U.S. Participation, Supported by NSF Grant

March 15, 2013

Computer Science Professor Francine Berman

Many of the world’s leading experts on “Big Data” and related fields will gather in Sweden March 18 for the first plenary session of the new international Research Data Alliance (RDA) – an interdisciplinary organization whose goal is to accelerate data-driven innovation through research data sharing and exchange.

 Spearheaded by RDA sponsors from the European Commission, the U.S. government, the Australian government, and key leaders from the data community, the RDA’s three-day launch will attract scientific leaders and experts who will work to accelerate discussion about removing barriers to sharing research data and  stimulating more interaction and development within the data community. U.S. participation in the new effort will be fueled by a $2.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation.

"Although the importance of sharing and exchange of data, including public access, has been emphasized by multiple reports and many science agencies around the world, actual sharing of data across national, international, and disciplinary boundaries has been challenging to implement,” said Alan Blatecky, director of NSF’s Division of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure. “The establishment of RDA promises to break through inertia by ‘just doing it’ – that is, RDA supports mechanisms that enable data researchers and scientists to quickly adopt best practices and share and exchange data."

U.S. involvement is led by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Computer Science Professor Francine Berman and Professor Beth A. Plale, of the School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University.

“The Research Data Alliance addresses a worldwide need for efforts that accelerate data-driven innovation,” Berman said. “The National Science Foundation, with U.S. and international partners, is expanding the global conversation on data-driven research. Community development of the RDA will contribute to the global infrastructure needed for new discovery and insights.

“This first meeting of key players in the data community will officially launch the RDA. There has been tremendous interest in the organization and we look forward to partnering with the community worldwide to coordinate and expand the global infrastructure that drives today’s research and innovation.”

 According to Berman, RDA efforts will focus on the development and adoption of common tools, harmonized standards, and infrastructure needed for data sharing by practicing researchers, as well as the application of policy and best practice to facilitate data-driven research.  The idea is to increase and promote focused efforts that drive tangible progress for working scientists and researchers.  Deliverables of many sorts – code, tools, policy, practice, and also harmonized standards – will be developed and adopted through the efforts of RDA working groups. 

Currently, the Research Data Alliance is garnering intense community interest, international recognition of the importance of its goals, and a growing membership.   March 18-20 will be the official launch of the organization and the first “working meeting” of the RDA.  Speakers in the meeting include Neelie Kroes, vice president of the European Commission responsible for the Digital Agenda for Europe, Farnam Jahanian, National Science Foundation head of the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate, and His Excellency Duncan Lewis, Australian Ambassador to Belgium, Luxembourg, the European Union, and NATO.  Attendees will also hear panel discussions and addresses on current status of the RDA, research data challenges and opportunities around the world, and data sharing in the humanities and life sciences.

Plenary presentations will be live-streamed.  For more information, visit:  If you are a journalist interested in covering the meeting, contact the RDA at:

About The Research Data Alliance: The Research Data Alliance is an organization that aims to accelerate and facilitate research data sharing and exchange. The work of the Research Data Alliance will primarily be undertaken through its  working groups. Participation in working groups, starting new working groups, and attendance at the twice-yearly plenary meetings is open to all. The purpose of the Research Data Alliance is to accelerate international data-driven innovation and discovery by facilitating research data sharing and exchange, use and re-use, standards harmonization, and discoverability. This will be achieved through the development and adoption of infrastructure, policy, practice, standards, and other deliverables. The Research Data Alliance is being brought into existence by an initial three research funding organizations:

  • The Australian Commonwealth Government through the Australian National Data Service supported by the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy Program and the Education Investment Fund (EIF) Super Science Initiative
  • The European Commission through the iCordi project funded under the 7th Framework Program
  • The United States of America through the RDA/US activity funded by the National Science Foundation


Lisa-Joy Zgorski, National Science Foundation

Mark Marchand, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

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