IUSSP Participation in CODATA 


As a member of the International Science Council (ISC), IUSSP was invited to send representation to CODATA, ISC’s Committee on Data.  CODATA’s mission is “to promote global collaboration to improve the availability and usability of data for all areas of research.”  This goal is often summarized as making data FAIR: Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Re-usable.  For example, CODATA has been a strong supporter of data archives, and it played an important role in creating the Core Trust Seal, which certifies “trustworthy digital repositories” for scientific data.  


In 2021, CODATA will be launching a Decadal Programme titled “Making data work for cross-domain grand challenges.” The program aims to help scientists address global challenges, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), by accelerating data-intensive analysis.  In particular, the program focuses on breaking down barriers between disciplines by automating data sharing across scientific domains.   “Data wrangling,” i.e., collecting, cleaning, and reshaping data, is widely recognized as a major burden on data intensive research.  Automating these tasks will require standards and tools that are just beginning to emerge, such as translating data formats and terminologies across disciplines.  For example, the term “variable,” which is commonplace in social sciences, is not used in geographic information standards that describe “features” and “feature attributes.”    


IUSSP has a great deal to contribute to this effort.  Demography is a data-rich field, and IUSSP members have extensive expertise on indicators of health, social, and economic development targeted in SDGs.  The challenge is to make these resources more accessible to climate scientists, ecologists, urban planners, and other scientists.


Interested IUSSP Members can participate in these activities in a number of ways.  CODATA task groups and working groups, such as “Aligning Citizen Science outcomes to the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” welcome participants from any discipline.   A simple but important contribution is identifying “use cases” for the data science community.  What research or policy goals, such as SDGs, would be easier to achieve if data from different sources were easier to access, combine, and analyze?  


George Alter, University of Michigan, IUSSP Delegate to CODATA