Because good research needs good data

CODATA RDM Terminology contribution and public review

Ryan O'Connor | 06 September 2022

In summer of 2021, the Committee on Data (CODATA) of the International Science Council announced that it was taking over the stewardship of the CASRAI Research Data Management Glossary due to CASRAI as an organisation being closed down. Changing the name of the Glossary to the RDM Terminology, CODATA announced that it was forming a working group to update the Terminology and, in the words of CODTA, “keep this terminology relevant by maintaining it as a ‘living document’.”

After some internal discussion here at the DCC I put myself forward to join the first iteration of the working group. There were a number of reasons I wanted to take part - firstly, in my experience of contributing to the DCC’s training events I always found that it was useful to refer people who were new to the topic of research data management to a list of definitions of commonly used terms; secondly, as part of the work the DCC were doing for the FAIRsFAIR project, we decided that it would be of benefit to both the project to have some input into this work, especially in connection with the work we were doing around FAIR-enabling policies and the definition of terms therein; finally, the opportunity to work with others from different domains and with different expertises is something that I have always found to be very rewarding (this is something that I have found to be generalisable across many different workplaces).

Once I was accepted as part of the working group, the next step was to get to grips with the content of the Terminology and, with the other group members, come up with a way of reviewing the terms in an efficient manner. There were over 400 terms in the original CASRAI glossary and with a working group of 16 members, plus convenor Laura Molloy from CODATA, there was never a possibility that we would be able to review each and every term in the detail it needed. As the Terminology is intended to be a ‘living document’, we decided that each member was free to take on updating as many terms as possible, safe in the knowledge that further iterations of the working group would be able to pick up more terms down the line.

Going through the list of terms, we were given the option to:
- accept the term and its definition in its current form;
- edit it (and specify the proposed edits);
- or remove it.
As well as this, there was the chance to propose new entries for the Terminology. Following the end of the period we gave ourselves to examine the Terminology, any changes that were proposed were discussed and reviewed by others in the group. From my perspective, this was a real eye opener, especially seeing how colleagues debated the specifics of terms that I didn’t have an in-depth knowledge of - terms in the areas of librarianship and computing, for example.

The reason I’m writing this blog now (and not a few months back when the working group’s activity finished!) is that the Terminology is now open for public review. You are invited to add your feedback to any terms via this Google Doc, with the deadline for comments the 30 September. Expressions of interest are also invited for those who may want to contribute to the next iteration of the working group - more details can be found on the CODATA website.