Arrangements for Technical Advisory Board

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Re: Arrangements for Technical Advisory Board

Postby wmichener » Tue Apr 30, 2013 2:40 pm

"Question TB1: Should we have something under rights, about TAB members having a right to contribute to WG discussions?"
“The Technical Advisory Board is expected to work with RDA Working Groups to promote adoption and effectiveness of their deliverables”. THIS SEEMS ADEQUATE.


“Question TM2: Should we try for some sort of balanced representation in the TAB? If so, balanced according to what criteria?” YES, SEE MY PRIOR POST.

“Question TM3: What should be the number of elected members of TAB? A smaller number makes it easier to achieve consensus but a larger number makes more expertise available. 12 is suggested as a possible number, with 6 being elected in the first round of elections and 6 more in a second round later.” I OPT FOR 12 INDIVIDUALS AS THIS HAS BEEN SHOWN TO BE AN OPTIMAL SIZE.

“Question EP1: What system of voting should be used? Single Vote first past the post, or STV, or other. One motivation might be to have a system which allows the membership to elect a regionally balanced TAB if they wish. For example, if each voter has number of votes, say equal to the number of places being elected, they are more likely to distribute these votes across regions.” I SUPPORT ONE VOTE FOR EACH POSITION BEING FILLED. IDEALLY, THE BALLOT WOULD ALLOW FOR INCLUSION OF A "QUALIFICATIONS STATEMENT" AS WELL AS A "PERSONAL STATEMENT OF INTEREST" WITH BOTH STATEMENTS BEING LIMITED TO 100-200 WORDS EACH.

Now back to Question TM2. This is difficult. I think the consensus was that technical expertise should be the main criterion, but that we should also try and achieve some balances in TAB. The question then becomes what factors should we try to balance for and how do we do it. MANY BOARDS ESTABLISH A NOMINATION COMMITTEE THAT INITIALLY SCREENS CANDIDATES AND DEVELOPS A REPRESENTATIVE SLATE, ALLOWING ADDITIONAL NOMINATIONS TO BE TAKEN FROM THE FLOOR. ALL FACTORS INCLUDING EXPERTISE, AGE, GENDER, GEOGRAPHY, RACE, ETC SHOULD BE BALANCED TO THE EXTENT POSSIBLE.

Bill Michener
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Re: Arrangements for Technical Advisory Board

Postby JuanBicarregui » Thu May 02, 2013 8:28 am

Bill, Thanks for sharing you view on this.

Regarding balances, I agree that it would be preferable, all else being equal, to have a TAB that is balanced in these "personal" attributes as well as the three "expetese" dimensions, but I'm worried that it will be impossible, with just 12 members, to achieve balance for everything. I'm also concerned (though I am no expert) that it might actually be illegal to disciminate on the basis of race, gender or age. It would be if it were a job I think. Does anyone know what we can and can't do in this respect?

Will you be able to join us in the Vidoeconference tomorrow?

Best regards,

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Re: Arrangements for Technical Advisory Board

Postby kashley » Thu May 02, 2013 11:08 am

For the sake of completeness, I thought I should copy here the remarks which Mustapha Mokrane emailed to some of us the other week. Mustapha said he had tried and failed to register on the forum to put his reply here.

One of the main questions I wanted to discuss with the TAB task force group
is the respective roles of TAB and OAB when it comes to guiding WGs and
recommending their approval to the Council.

It seems like the TAB role is really limited to technical aspects and will
not cover issues outside of this scope. It is important to look out of the
technical box and also outside of what RDA members represent, if RDA
is serious about avoiding duplication and engaging with organizations
already doing work in areas proposed by candidate WG. We have already
several examples in the current proposed WGs where this was obviously not

I was under the impression that this should be the role of the OAB.
However, from what I can read in the RDA-Governance-v2 document, the role
of OAB will not include reviewing WG case statements but merely looking
inward at RDA organization. In addition, the OAB seems to be open only to
representatives of organizations contributing direct financial or in-kind
support to the RDA Secretariat, excluding organizations providing support
to WGs : "Volunteer activities as members of RDA Working Groups and other
bodies of RDA do not constitute an in-kind contribution".

Therefore my concerns about neither the OAB nor the TAB looking outside of
RDA and providing appropriate guidance to the WGs and Council remain
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Re: Arrangements for Technical Advisory Board

Postby DonatellaCastelli » Thu May 02, 2013 11:45 am

I believe that the document should explicitly put the expression "technical expertise" into a context . I have problems in understanding what it means without such information.

Will the RDA TAB composed of experts in all those techniques and machinery that are necessary to create, maintain, operate and make interoperable data infrastructure? Or will the RDA TAB be composed of experts in techniques and machinery for implementing data sharing and data infrastructure interoperability? Or …what else?
Clarifying this point for me is essential to understand which domain experts can be nominated as TAB members and for giving a meaning to part of the text like:

Some categories of expertise for which balance is considered important are:
Research Domain (Broad categories: eg Humanities , Social Science, Medicine,...),
Professional role,(eg Data Manager, Data User, Data Technologist, Data policy maker, ...)
Geographic region (eg Continents).[

TAB is not interested in any Humanities research expert, but only on those that are experts on techniques related to the implementation of data sharing in the humanities domain. Similarly, TAB is not interested in data managers whose role is to preserve data in the context of a single organization. … At least this in my understanding. Right?

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Re: Arrangements for Technical Advisory Board

Postby dgiaretta » Fri May 03, 2013 9:41 am

It seems to me that one of the main issues about the election process is to ensure that the TAB can carry out its functions adequately. The various classifications for balancing are fine but with only 12 members it will be difficult to do much more than avoid massive imbalances.

One key function, which has not been mentioned much in this topic is the roadmap. Presumably this is needed early-ish and will be used to form the basis of the overall technical vision, identify gaps and overlaps between WGs.

One way of developing the roadmap is the political way - presumably influenced by what the funders and their political masters need. Alternatively the TAB could collect inputs from the whole RDA membership. The TAB would then be more editorial/judicial, with conflicting views resolved possibly via a debate between champions of opposing views. By the way, this resolution would probably have to create some unhappiness if it is to be effective, so TAB members would have to be prepared for that.

These would be the extremes of top-down and bottom-up.

Looking at what is in Juan's document it does seem that technical expertise is required. That does seem right because although editors and judge are needed, some basis for judgement is also needed since we are in a sense making this up as we go along. But as Donatella indicates, this technical expertise is still rather vague.

The problem we have is that whereas the IETF is concerned with getting messages from one point to another - without being very concerned with what is in the messages, the RDA is interested in the content. This opens things up much more widely.

One way to resolve this is to distinguish between those things which are discipline independent from those things which are very domain specific. There are too many disciplines and not enough rennaisance people, so my preference would be for the TAB to have technical expertise in domain independent things - at least a track-record in _cross discipline_ activities since practically speaking all the experts will probably have a tie to at least one discipline because that is where the funding is.

Domain expertise should come in via invited attendees - as expert witnesses - to bring in knowledge about what is happening in the real world - inside as well as outside RDA. This would necessarily bring in several points of view and ensure that what the roadmap has some contact/consistency with what is out there - important because the domain people are probably going to be the ones taking RDA recommendations on board.

So I guess that is my conclusion for what the election process needs to deliver is: discipline-independent or at least cross-discipline technical experts as members with discipline experts brought in as expert witnesses.
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Re: Arrangements for Technical Advisory Board

Postby kashley » Fri May 03, 2013 11:34 am

Balance of all sorts is desirable but I agree with others that on a 12-member committee it will be difficult to devise a process guaranteed to achieve all types of balance. I also agree with Bill that it's all too possible that we'll get the opposite - a board without any balance at all - and that that would be highly undesirable. Rather than dividing the voters into blocks it should be possible to devise a process where we can define minimum representation levels and adjust the results transparently to achieve them.

I'll make this more concrete with an example. It's just that (an example) - I'm not saying these numbers are the ones we should have.
Say we have a 12-member board and the suggested 12 votes per voter. Say also that we have 3 global regions and that we want to see an element of gender and regional diversity. We define this by saying that the board must have at least 2 members from each region and at least 3 members of each gender. If the votes deliver a result compatible with this, that's fine. If not then the lowest-ranked candidate of the most over-represented group is removed and replaced with the highest-ranking candidate that redresses the balance. So if the vote delivers 10 men and two women, the man with the lowest number of votes is replaced by the woman with the next highest. This works as long as we don't have too many diversity criteria - with 3 (region, gender, specialisation) it is workable, but with 20 it would not be.

I'm also in agreement with David when he says that generalists are to be preferred over disciplinary specialists, and that there are others ways for the board to call on such specialist expertise when it feels the need to. But that ability to consult outside will have to be made clear in the definition of the Board to avoid possible challenges to a decision which relies on such a consultation.

Finally I'm not sure how I feel about Beth's comments on politically persuasive versus the technically astute. At one level I agree with her that technical astuteness is an absolute requirement and we need a process that ensures that we have such candidates and that they don't lose out to politically-able ones, particularly those backed by voting blocs. But we must recognise that the TAB will need some non-technical skills. In its role as a guide for new and candidate groups it will need people with strong personal and social skills as well as technical skills. It also needs to be able to read the wider landscape to recognise when something is (say) worthwhile competition to an apparently technically-similar effort and when it is needless duplication or even hostile competition. These are political skills and, as Mustapha has observed, it isn't apparent that there's anyone else to take on this role.
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Re: Arrangements for Technical Advisory Board

Postby JuanBicarregui » Fri May 10, 2013 6:05 pm

The attached version of the TAB election process document incorpoartes changes arising from our meeting last week. I hope I caught all the suggested changes but please propose changes if I've missed some.

This verision also includes a proposal for the balancing algorithm as discussed and some suggestions for classifications by which to balance. There are many ways this classification could be done so please comment on these proposals.

I look forward to reading your comments.

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Re: Arrangements for Technical Advisory Board

Postby wmichener » Sat May 11, 2013 8:36 pm

I think the document does a good job of capturing the recent discussion.

However, some corrections were missed. In particular, the 3 year term and move to co-chairs are not reflected on page 2 and page 7. At the bottom of page 4, I suggest modifying "WG Chairs" to be "current WG Chairs" as it would be beneficial for the TAB to include former WG Chairs (which i think we all agreed to).

I have not had time to fully comprehend the balancing scheme although it does seem to be missing the technical areas relevant to data that we might hope to see represented: e.g., legal and policy; databases and information integration; learning, natural language processing and information extraction; information retrieval and web information access; and knowledge discovery in social and information networks, etc.

Bill Michener
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Re: Arrangements for Technical Advisory Board

Postby HermanStehouwer » Tue May 14, 2013 9:43 am

I think the document itself is excellent.
I do have some concerns about the balancing; specifically the domain-specific balancing.

First, as Bill said the cited possible domain-expertise lists do not reflect the expertises we are involved with as RDA.
Second, if this means we have to make our own list I have concerns about this process. Modifying the lists during the operation of the TAB would seem to open up gaps (if adding items) or create superfluous TAB members (if removing items). Furthermore, I have doubts on our ability to create a good-enough list (in one go).

Nevertheless, we do need a good balance in terms of expertise in the TAB!
I think we need to have our own list, the above are just concerns, not objections.
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Re: Arrangements for Technical Advisory Board

Postby JuanBicarregui » Wed May 15, 2013 3:14 pm


Thanks for the feedback. Regarding the corrections you suggest in your first paragrpah:

The mention of 2 years on page 2 is indeed and error. I'll correct it.

I'll also make the clarification you suggest on page 4.

The reference to the two years terms for the co-chairs on page 7 is deliberate. As there are two co-chairs and one is elected each year, the co-chairs term is two years. This may or may not synchronise with their term on TAB. There are too many possibilities to enumerate, but the principle is that being elected as TAB co-chair overrides needing to be reelected as an ordinary TAB member.

The point you make in your second paragrpah is similar to Herman's, so I'll reply to thoes togther in a seperate post.

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