If we knew then what we know now, will we do it differently?

Hilary Hanahoe
Secretary General, Research Data Alliance

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but as history shows us, we rarely learn from the past or do things differently when it repeats itself. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to a massive, fast track experiment for researchers, scientists and information management professionals across the globe. Never before have we witnessed such intense research, such investment of resources, availability of dedicated funding, such accessibility to relevant publications and data. It has demonstrated that science has no geographical boundaries, that cross disciplinary collaboration and cooperation is possible, that silos can be broken. At the same time, many stakeholders involved impress upon the urgency but the unsustainability of the current work. So what can we learn from this period? How can science, research and innovation reap the benefits of this learning curve? A reflection on global open science, the progress and the challenges ahead.


Hilary Hanahoe was appointed Secretary General of the Research Data Alliance (RDA) in February 2018. Her responsibilities include leadership of RDA’s membership, effective management of the RDA organization and its legal entity (RDA Foundation), engagement with RDA funders, stakeholders and organisations, and sustainable stewardship of the dynamic, active, and high-impact community of over of over 11,000 individual members from 145 countries worldwide, together with over 60 organisational members. Hilary is responsible for the financial and organisational sustainability of RDA on an international level and is the CEO of the RDA Foundation offices (Global and Europe). She works closely with the RDA Council and all governance boards and members of the RDA community. She is passionate about the work of the Research Data Alliance and its vibrant, volunteer community working to enable the open sharing and reuse of data

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