Below is the description of the proposed community model being put forward for community input.
Proposed Community Model
Based on interviews with four community organizations (AOP Wiki, Earth Sciences Information Partnership, OBO Foundry, and Research Data Alliance) and discussions within a community-model working group, the community model shown in Figure 1 is proposed.
A key aspect of any community is having an infrastructure for communications, hosting meetings, and other ongoing operational activities. One of the recurring messages from stakeholders and community interviews was to not reinvent the wheel in this regard. As such, the Research Data Alliance (RDA) is proposed to provide structure for the Environmental Health Language Collaborative.
The proposed model begins with individuals and/or groups from discipline-specific communities generating use cases based on research questions of interest to them. These use cases represent needs for harmonized language solutions that will enhance the findability, sharing, and interoperability of environmental health sciences data. The use cases will be brought to a proposed RDA Harmonized Environmental Health Language Interest Group (IG). This IG will provide a platform for overall coordination and collaboration among interested members. Its goal will be to design a strategic direction for developing and adopting language solutions, identify and prioritize use cases, coordinate activities, and be a Community of Practice space for exchanging information, offering a resource clearinghouse, and fostering education and training. An RDA Working Group (WG) could be formed whenever a specific work product needs to be developed. If the product is an ontology, then ideally its development would follow the OBO Foundry framework to be interoperable with other ontologies.
The IG and WG will work in concert with other relevant communities or partner organizations towards the development and implementation of any recommendations and outputs. Those products will be communicated back to the discipline specific communities with the anticipation of adoption.
How Would This Model Work in Practice?
The intent of the model is to provide support to those developing and applying language approaches, as outlined in Figure 2. The example begins with an investigator (or someone else) who has a use case that can benefit from a semantic solution. At this stage, the investigator can work with the RDA Interest Group to raise awareness of the need, tap into expertise, and identify potential collaborators to work on a team. The investigator may choose to form a working group outside of RDA, but they can also decide that creating an RDA Working Group will assist in gaining broader community input and perspectives.
Whether the activities are done within or outside an RDA WG, the IG can support the working group’s activities by offering time at the IG’s plenary sessions to do work and/or providing additional support in the form of workshop activities, presentation time, and webinars. Any developed product(s) from the working group would be brought to RDA and shared with the broader community, as well as added to a resource clearinghouse. In addition, the RDA IG can assist with disseminating and promoting adoption of the product if needed. Finally, the RDA IG will maintain the catalogue of existing use cases which will aid other investigators in recognizing and prioritizing gaps and issues to which they can provide solutions.
Sustaining the proposed community model requires three supporting players as shown in Figure 3. NIEHS proposes to engage by providing in-kind volunteer support to the IG and WGs and working to promote funding support for relevant efforts. NIEHS will work to establish workshops, or other events such as codeathons, as well as develop policies and processes based on RDA or other’s recommendations that would advance the community’s goals. In-kind volunteer support will be provided through discipline specific communities, primarily through serving on the IG and WG. Finally, collaborating partners in academic, federal, and industry sectors will be identified and involved to provide both in-kind contributions and support for funding community activities.