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  • April 01, 2021 3:19 PM | Laura Palumbo

    The following post was written by an RDAP 2021 Summit Scholarship recipient. Scholarships were prioritized for those from under-represented groups, first-time RDAP attendees, early career professionals, and current students. Each recipient was asked to write a brief post on their conference experience.


    Joining a field in the midst of change

    As a new data practitioner, I found the theme of “Radical Change and Data” to be reflective of my own journey with research data management. The conference theme initially made me think of change in terms of societal shifts and their relation to the future of data. Until I attended the RDAP conference, I had not given pause to consider how radical my own personal and professional change has been during my first year in the field of data management.

    Attending the RDAP 2021 Summit was a huge step of bravery for me, because I am a graduate assistant, first year master’s student, and new to the field of research data management. Attending a conference as a beginner in a field (albeit an enthusiastic one), swirls up the imposter syndrome demons that remind you of your ineptitude. I appreciate the continual support from everyone that I have met in the RDM community who pushed me to believe that my voice has value.

    By joining the data management field during a time of radical change, I get to learn from where we have been and shape where we are going. People who work with data have the dual edged sword of having the power to change, for better or worse. Dr. Tonia Sutherland's keynote speech clearly showed that information continues to be stolen and commodified from minority groups in ways that challenge our idea of digital rights and death itself. Our responsibility is to make a future where people have sovereignty over their data and continue the shift towards open access to remove barriers to information.

    At the conference I was excited to see the work that the community has been doing and apply the findings to my own work. Alisa Beth Rod, NuRee Lee, and Sandy Hervieux’s learning experiences with developing curriculum specifically for virtual RDM instruction will be used to help improve my own workshop sessions. Sam Leif, Ari Gofman, Hannah Gunderman, and Nina Exner's wonderful lightening talk on including a non-binary as an option for gender identification throughout the research lifecycle will be applied to my assessment work as part of a taskforce on diversity, equity, inclusivity, and accessibility (DEIA) at the University Library. Hannah Gunderman's lightening talk about breaking up with best practices cemented in my brain that if the community of data professionals feel pressured to meet best practices, then the burden must be even more extreme for researchers to achieve ‘perfect’ data.

    I am extremely thankful that I was able to get a scholarship to attend the RDAP 2021 Summit. Being able to see what other researchers and data professionals are doing in the field allowed me to take stock of where I am and where I want to go. I anticipate a lot of hard work and growth ahead to achieve my goals as a data professional, but radical change does not happen unless it has radical effort behind it.


  • March 31, 2021 9:30 AM | Laura Palumbo

    The following post was written by an RDAP 2021 Summit Scholarship recipient. Scholarships were prioritized for those from under-represented groups, first-time RDAP attendees, early career professionals, and current students. Each recipient was asked to write a brief post on their conference experience.


    I became a reference and instruction librarian at Himmelfarb Library a year ago, my first full-time position as a medical librarian. As I gain familiarity with my responsibilities and with course content, I struggle to incorporate critical information literacy and data literacy concepts into teaching. I am trying to radically change my idea of what teaching looks like and to engage in change-making at the nexus of biomedical and information sciences. I aim to encourage conversations around how we know what we know.

    Conversations in classrooms are a start. As speakers throughout the 2021 Research Data Access & Preservation (RDAP) Summit described, radical change requires consideration of consent and context, connection with communities, and critical thought.


    With data widely available in large volumes and in new places, strategies are emerging to address informed consent. Focus groups with representative members of communities can inform practices and research, and automated options are being considered for big social data, as found on Facebook and Reddit (Mannheimer, 2021). When considering the reuse of data, which can add value and increase the impact of a dataset (Smith, 2021), consent language needs to be broadened to anticipate new and unique future uses.

    While the importance of data sharing and reuse is increasingly recognized, it is still crucial to ensure that consent is freely given, reversible, informed, enthusiastic, and specific (FRIES) (Sutherland, 2021). Broadened consent language to enable data sharing and reuse seems incompatible with the FRIES model of consent. Professional communities, research consultants, and educators must approach this conflict with critical thought and conscious awareness.


    Continuous reuse, resharing, and “uncritical reproduction” can further separate data from the context, and the trauma, in which it was created and thereby perpetuate inherent bias (Sutherland, 2021). Information professionals can use descriptions to highlight biases and explain how depictions can be harmful (Sutherland, 2021). Consideration of data in context, with consciousness of biases in collection, interpretation, and presentation, illuminates shortcomings, opportunities, and obligations for changing how data is collected, labeled, and presented.

    Conversely, too much context, either in big social data or small segments of a research population, enables re-identification of participants (Mannheimer, 2021, Leif et al., 2021). Knowing when and how much context to provide is another pressing question.

    Community Connection

    Connecting with communities to develop contexts for presenting and using data is vital. Communities can better describe personal experiences and research aims. Researchers can collaborate with community members to identify which data to collect and the most appropriate data labels, metadata, descriptions, and depictions (Leif et al., 2021).

    Critical Conversations

    The 2021 RDAP Summit presentations and chat conversations motivated participants to continue raising consciousness and engaging in radical change. Critical conversations are emerging in professional spheres and in classrooms (Exner, 2021) Students are challenging researchers and practitioners to consider how we know what we know (Institute for Healing and Justice in Medicine, n.d.).

    The 2021 RDAP Summit inspired new ideas for discussion on the how and who of research data collection and analysis. I will use these questions to encourage critique among medical students of how we know what we know. Ultimately, I hope the conversations from the 2021 RDAP Summit can be extended to my classrooms, encouraging future researchers to examine  the consent process and the labels they use in data collection and providing future practitioners with a better understanding of how to apply evidence to individual patient cases. I look forward to sharing my experiences with other information professionals, librarians, and educators.



    Exner, N. (2021, March 10). Data Consultations, Racism, and Critiquing Colonialism in Demographic Datasheets. 2021 RDAP Summit.

    Institute for Healing and Justice in Medicine. (n.d.). Institute for Healing and Justice in Medicine.

    Leif, S., Gofman, A., Gunderman, H., & Exner, N. (2021, March 10). Do I have to be an “other” to be myself? Nonbinary Gender in Taxonomy, Data Collection, and through the Lifecycle. 2021 RDAP Summit.

    Mannheimer, S. (2021, March 10). Supporting responsible research with big social data by connecting communities of practice. 2021 RDAP Summit.

    Smith, V. (2021, March 11). A Sensitive Data Toolkit for Researchers: Supporting Sensitive Data Sharing in Canada. 2021 RDAP Summit.

    Sutherland, T. (2021, March 10). No! Thinking About Critical Refusal as Data Practice. 2021 RDAP Summit.

  • March 29, 2021 2:00 PM | Laura Palumbo

    The following post was written by an RDAP 2021 Summit Scholarship recipient. Scholarships were prioritized for those from under-represented groups, first-time RDAP attendees, early career professionals, and current students. Each recipient was asked to write a brief post on their conference experience.


    Greetings, RDAP blog readers! My name is Angel Tang (she/hers), and since last December I have been the Data, Science, and Engineering Diversity Resident Librarian at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This past February I attended the RDAP Summit for the first time, and am very grateful for the generosity of the sponsors who funded my scholarship.

    As a member of the Research Data Management Team at my institution, I co-lead workshops on research data management. In these sessions, we encourage open data practices and share tips on making project data accessible and easy to interpret even after the project ends. These workshops are one of the favorite parts of my role, as the classes are usually very engaged and have enthusiastic conversations about the steps they can take to advance their data management habits. My team has a very robust presentation that is quite information-dense, and it can feel a little awkward to lecture for long periods in a virtual setting. When watching the presentation by Alisa Beth Rod, NuRee Lee, and Sandy Hervieux of McGill University, I was really impressed by their ideas to add interactive elements, including polls and a file-naming activity. My team’s presentation has built in breaks for questions and reflection, but perhaps in future iterations we could discuss incorporating other interactive elements to create a more dynamic workshop.

    Another presentation which inspired me to reexamine my teaching practices was Hannah Gunderman’s lightning talk, in which she gave her honest thoughts on the term “best practices.” I shared some similar anxieties around that phrase as I felt that I was encouraging students to aspire to a standard to which I personally would struggle to meet. In the future, I intend to use “recommended practices” instead as Hannah suggested. Data management is already an intimidating topic for some, and any small changes I can make to promote a more comfortable learning environment is a worthwhile endeavor.

    The theme “Radical Change and Data” really resonated with me as I have learned more in recent years about how biased algorithms further the marginalization of vulnerable communities. To combat this, we need to push for Radical Change in democratizing access to and control over data. As a data librarian, I hope to nurture change by encouraging students and researchers to adhere to ethical practices which promote openness and accessibility as well as compassion and consideration for their research subjects. Spreading awareness of data ethics is one way in which librarians can help create a more equitable and safer data future for all, and I am grateful to the RDAP presenters who shared their experiences with and strategies for teaching data management.

  • March 26, 2021 11:51 AM | Jennifer Darragh

    In the wake of more senseless violence against persons of color, the RDAP Executive Board reaffirms to our members and our professional community that we pledge to stand up against racism, xenophobia, misogyny and white supremacy. We mourn the deaths of Soon Chung Park, Hyun Jung Grant, Suncha Kim, Yong Yue, Delaina Ashley Yaun, Paul Andre Michels, Xiaojie Tan, Daoyou Feng, and the countless other innocent lives taken because of hate crimes.

    This is just the latest tragic event following a year of growing xenophobia against the AAPI community both here in the US and abroad due to false narratives around the origins of Covid-19 spreading across official and social media outlets.

    This has to stop.

    RDAP stands behind fact-driven science and rigorous data collected by reliable sources. While data on hate crimes are available, they are incredibly poor and incomplete. Many victims never report these types of incidents to authorities, and that is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to issues with the data (including underreporting and misclassification).

    The organization Stop AAPI Hate is working to encourage those who witness acts of hate towards the AAPI community to report it via their Website. They are working to develop stronger policies around hate crimes reporting and advocating for greater civil rights protections. RDAP has donated $250.00 to this effort. Please visit their Website to see how you too can help combat AAPI hate.

  • March 10, 2021 2:40 PM | Laura Palumbo

    The Journal of eScience Librarianship (JeSLIB) is planning a special issue featuring RDAP content! If you’re sharing your work at RDAP--whether in a talk, a poster, or a presentation--consider submitting and sharing your work more broadly.

    The 2021 Special Issue will focus on RDAP’s theme of Radical Change and Data and how data intersects with major forces for societal change, including public health, the environment, and movements for racial equality. In order to promote diversity and inclusion, we encourage submissions from presenters who focus on DEI related topics or are from an underrepresented identity. Authors can submit in a range of formats, from full-length papers to commentaries to video articles. All full-length and e-Science in Action papers are subject to double-blind peer review, while other article types will be read and reviewed by the guest editors and editor-in-chief.

    Manuscript submissions will be due May 31 for publication in the November 2021 special issue. Mentorship is available to support submissions. Please reach out to the guest editors ( if you would like to be paired with a mentor.

    Please visit the Guidelines for JeSLIB authors for more information on manuscript preparation and submission:

  • March 02, 2021 6:22 PM | Cameron

    Join us for our next town hall on the "Final NIH Policy for Data Management and Sharing"!

    Panelists: Melissa Rethlefsen, Heather Coates, Lisa Federer, and Peg Burnette

    Date: Monday, March 15 Time: 1:00pm ET/12:00pm CT/11:00am MT/10:00amPT

    Location: Zoom

    Free registration:

  • February 04, 2021 6:29 PM | Cameron

    Have you read a great article or book recently? Curious about what’s been published on research data? From RDAP Education, join us this spring on the fourth Thursday of the month for RDAP Journal Club!


    • Feb 25, 2021 1 p.m. Eastern/12 p.m. Central/10 a.m. Pacific 
    • Mar 25, 2021 1 p.m. Eastern/12 p.m. Central/10 a.m. Pacific 
    • Apr 22, 2021 1 p.m. Eastern/12 p.m. Central/10 a.m. Pacific 
    • May 27, 2021 1 p.m. Eastern/12 p.m. Central/10 a.m. Pacific 

    Bring an article/book you’d like to share – we ask only that you can relate it to data work and that it not be your own research. Give us a short introduction (3 minutes) to the work and tell us what was great (or needs more investigation!).

    These events are being hosted by Marian Ekweogwu and Abigail Goben Register to attend the Journal Clubs here:

    After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

    Questions? Reach out via our Contact Form!

  • January 11, 2021 11:00 AM | Jennifer Darragh

    The RDAP Executive Board is appalled by the seditious events that took place on January 6, 2021 at the United States Capitol Building. Our nation’s leaders and our democratic election processes were severely threatened by a coup of predominantly white Trump supporters who continue to believe his falsehoods about election fraud. Even worse, Trump, still America’s president, appeared to have incited this mob's action. 

    Some have tried to equate what happened at the Capitol with some of the riots that occurred during or following Black Lives Matter protests. They are not the same thing. Demonstrating for a right to live while black is something we should all be behind as Americans and as human beings. The fact that some leveraged the Black Lives Matter protests as opportunities to spread anarchy is horrible, but the real tragedy is the damage done to those protests’ message of the right to live; that innocent lives have been snuffed out by those who are supposed to protect and serve. You can't replace someone's life; you can rebuild a store. 

    This would-be Capitol coup was caused by a weeks-long temper tantrum about an election decidedly lost. Our President encouraged his angry fans to storm the Capitol and do what they would to oppose our constitutional democratic processes. We saw, we will not forget, nor let this pass out of mind without being addressed. We empathize with those of you who are fighting both public and private battles with others who do not or cannot see the writing on the wall. You are not alone in your disappointment, anger and frustration.

    On January 20th, we will have a new administration. One that has already shown a desire to unite rather than divide. One that will represent all Americans rather than a small base. And one that will listen to experts so we can begin winning this fight against the coronavirus and work to undue countless wrongs done by the current administration. This is not over, and we will all have to work together to right so many wrongs, on so many levels. We can do this. There is hope.

    Jennifer Darragh, President
    Jonathan Petters, Vice President
    Tobin Magle, Past President
    Christopher Eaker, Treasurer
    Rachel Woodbrook, Secretary

  • December 07, 2020 6:59 PM | Reid Boehm (Administrator)

    A five person team working under the auspices of RDAP updated the content of the SPARC (Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) data sharing resource. This is a community resource that allows for tracking, understanding, and comparison of current U.S. federal funder research data sharing policies. By updating the content, these efforts sustain the resource as a useful tool for data management professionals, especially those supporting US government-funded research.  

    The group includes:

    • Jonathan Petters, Virginia Tech (Team lead)

    • Hannah Calkins, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia

    • Patricia Condon, University of New Hampshire

    • Rachel Woodbrook, University of Michigan

    • Reid Boehm, University of Houston

    This updating project started in January 2020 and the updated content was released February 2021. The group came together around a shared desire to see this information resource sustained. This process allowed us to learn more about the nuances of the agencies, and about each other. We saw this update as a valuable endeavor for growth on many levels. The project leads to more collaboration opportunities between RDAP and SPARC and the group plans to write a manuscript comparing and contrasting the content in policy facets across the agencies giving a picture of the changes and trends over the last 5 years. To read more, visit the SPARC newsletter More  information about the process and content for each agency is available on the Open Science Framework at

  • October 13, 2020 10:32 AM | Jennifer Darragh

    In order to maintain momentum with the RDAP Association’s desire to be an open, inclusive and accessible organization for all (Strategic Goal 3) as well as an advocate for anti-racism and anti-discrimination, the Executive Board and Leadership Team are asking for a small team of dedicated members to help guide our work in this area. As such we are forming a Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism (DEIA) Task Force.

    The Charge:

    The Research Data Access & Preservation (RDAP) Association is committed to advocating for and actively supporting diversity, equity, inclusion, and anti-racism within our organization and within the fields of data management and curation. As such, the organization is creating a task force that will work closely with the seven RDAP Action Committees and the Executive Board to identify where and how DEIA touches our work and broader society, how to improve, how to measure our successes, and how to address and learn from our failures. The task force will have one year to develop a cohesive plan and identify measurable (SMART) goals for the association. During the planning year, regular progress reports will be provided to the RDAP membership via RDAP Happenings newsletter (and other channels as needed).

    Get Involved:

    If you are interested in volunteering for this task force, please see the announcement in the upcoming RDAP Happenings Newsletter. Volunteers are asked to provide statement of interest (up to 2500 character/500 words) as to why they would like to be a part of this effort. If interested in leading this task force, please indicate that as part of your submission. A subset of the Executive Board and Leadership Team (Action Committee Chairs) will review these statements and invite six RDAP members to serve on the task force and identify one of the six as the chair. The chair of the group will be invited to attend the monthly RDAP Leadership Team meetings to update RDAP Leadership on progress and to ask for input as desired. 

    The Process:

    Because we recognize that this is important work, we anticipate that there may be a lot of interest from the RDAP community about getting involved, as such, the call for volunteers will be handled as follows:

    1. The RDAP President will provide a form for interested RDAP members to provide up to a 2500 character (~500 words) statement of interest for joining this DEIA Task force effort (linked in upcoming October RDAP Happenings). Your name and email address will be collected on this form so that you may be notified if selected. An additional field on the form will allow volunteers to indicate if they would be willing to chair the group. The volunteer form will be open for two weeks. 

    2. The RDAP President will remove names from the submitted forms and provide the selection team with only the statements of interest and whether the volunteer is interested in chairing the group. As a result, the RDAP President will not be part of the selection team. 

    3. Volunteers will be selected based on the strength of their statement. We realize this review cannot be fully objective due to the importance and sensitivity of the topic. Statements should include more than “personal stakes” - for example, what you would like to change, where you see major pain points, and/or how you are qualified to do this work. Statements are considered confidential.

    4. The selection team will have two weeks to provide recommendations to fill the six member taskforce, including the chair, to the RDAP President.

    5. The RDAP President will contact the volunteers to determine that they are still willing and able to serve on the taskforce , and that a chair from among that group is in place.

    6. The RDAP President will announce the new Task Force to the RDAP Membership.


The RDAP community brings together a variety of individuals, including data managers and curators, librarians, archivists, researchers, educators, students, technologists, and data scientists from academic institutions, data centers, funding agencies, and industry who represent a wide range of STEM disciplines, social sciences, and humanities.


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