Attending my first RDAP Summit was an incredibly informative and valuable experience.
As the Data Associate at Global TIES for Children, an international center dedicated to improving the lives of refugees and other children in crisis areas of the world at New York University, I work directly on managing, processing, and curating quantitative research data. On a day-to-day level, it is very easy to get lost in the technical aspects and not necessarily consider wider issues. The Summit exposed this gap to me, and I feel like I walked out with a whole new vocabulary, new resources, and the beginnings of a bibliography that will inform and strengthen my practice to make sure our published datasets are as inclusive as possible.
Several talks and presentations stick out in my mind. Sara Mannheimer’s presentation on collaborating with the Center for American Indian and Rural Health Equity (CAIRHE) was a great example on how to responsibly store and set access procedures that respect data sovereignty. I felt that Subhanya Sivajothy’s talk about using counter-knowledges and crowdsourcing to create empowering data visualizations highlighted important lessons when choosing conceptual structures and controlled vocabularies in metadata. Finally, both Berenice Vejvoda and Negeen Aghassibake’s presentations concretely showed ways to mitigate the dangers and potential harm caused by data collection and publication. From these and other talks, presentations, posters, and workshops, I took away how important it is to incorporate the subjects' agency when creating and curating datasets. By making the metadata and documentation plural, we as data collectors, owners, publishers, and researchers can both protect and empower the subjects of the data.
At the end of the Summit, I couldn’t help but to be excited about joining such a dynamic and thoughtful organization. RDAP opened my eyes to critical data theory and I can't wait to see what I learn and how I grow from RDAP in the future.