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Workshop: Paris June 2017

First Inter-Union Workshop on Data Standards: Developing a Roadmap for Data Integration

The digital revolution of the last two decades has created an explosive growth in the data available to scientists and its potential for new understanding of complex systems on all scales, from the molecular to the cosmic, and all in areas of human concern, from local health systems to global sustainability. Grasping these opportunities depends upon the ability of the scientific community to find and access the relevant data from multiple distributed sites, to integrate data from the disparate disciplines that bear on these issues, and to exploit learning algorithms from artificial intelligence to deduce deep relationships in the data. These capacities depend upon access to open data and the use of standards that facilitate discovery, access, sharing, use, comprehension, interpretation and retention of these data.

International scientific unions have long been major forces in establishing community practices and approaches to generating, collecting, and sharing the data critical for scientific progress within their disciplines. These activities include standardizing terminology and nomenclature, data reporting formats, data and metadata standards, guides for data repositories, and data quality assessments. It is now timely to consider how disciplinary groups can work together to integrate data from disparate but related areas of research in ways that create deeper, cross-disciplinary understanding of complex phenomena, an essential step in addressing many complex global issues. But efficient re-use and data integration are dependent on the development and use of common standards for the discovery, access, sharing, use, comprehension, interpretation and retention of these data through the development of an infrastructure of persistent identifiers, vocabularies and ontologies as well as the services needed to make use of them.

The ICSU-CODATA Commission on Data Standards for Science convened the first “Inter-Union Workshop on Data Standards: Developing a Roadmap for Data Integration” which was held in Paris, France on 19-21 June 2017. The workshop was by invitation only and comprised c.35 individuals or representatives of groups that are expert in the field. Its purpose was to share details of data and information activities, agree on good practice, and, most importantly, seek consensus about how unions and disciplinary groups can best work together in establishing a global network of scientific research data that is FAIR – i.e., Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable.

The major outcome of the meeting will be a Roadmap of Priorities for inter-union cooperation and the ICSU-CODATA Commission. A near field agenda will consist of objectives for data integration that can be defined relatively well, and which require well-funded, focused work to achieve them. A further, far field agenda will be explored, to discuss the potential for a more ambitious objective, the extent to which Tim Berners Lee’s vision of the semantic web for science might be realized.

The workshop will also be a necessary precursor to a major symposium in late 2017 in which invitations will be to a wider range of unions and international disciplinary associations to discuss the potential and scope of a broad coordinated effort across the scientific community.

Three groups have been invited:

  • Domain expert groups (scientific unions, international disciplinary associations, sub-disciplinary groups).
  • Specialist technical & standards bodies
  • Individual experts

Programme and Attendees

Concept Note




Presentations from First Inter-Union Workshop on Data Standards

Position Paper

Position Paper: Exploiting the digital revolution: developing capacity and integrating data across the disciplines of science