The Value of RDA for COVID-19

Under public health emergencies, and particularly the COVID19 pandemic, it is fundamental that data is shared in both a timely and an accurate manner. This coupled with the harmonisation of the many diverse data infrastructures is, now more than ever, imperative to share preliminary data and results early and often. It is clear that open research data is a key component to pandemic preparedness and response.

In late March, The Research Data Alliance (RDA) received a direct request from one of its funders, the European Commission, to create global guidelines and recommendations for data sharing under COVID-19 circumstances. Over 600 data professionals and domain experts signed up and began work in early April 2020. They have produced a rich set of detailed guidelines to help researchers and data stewards follow best practices to maximise the efficiency of their work, and to act as a blueprint for future emergencies; coupled with recommendations to help policymakers and funders to maximise timely, quality data sharing and appropriate responses in such health emergencies.

On 30 June 2020, RDA published the final version of the RDA COVID-19 Recommendations and Guidelines on data sharing covering four research areas – clinical data, omics practices, epidemiology and social sciences - complemented by overarching areas focusing on legal and ethical considerations, research software, community participation and indigenous data.

The Outputs

The COVID-19 WG, from April 1st through June 30th, 2020, created more than five releases of the recommendations and guidelines, leading to the final endorsed version, "RDA COVID-19 Recommendations and Guidelines for Data Sharing," with ongoing efforts to add and review materials.

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