DevTech Attends, Presents at International Data Week 2023


Every two years, the International Data Week (IDW) conference brings together an international community of researchers, data scientists and stewards, librarians, policymakers, and data experts from all fields. The 2023 iteration of International Data Week was held in Salzburg, Austria from October 23rd to 26th. The biennial event combines the Research Data Alliance (RDA) Plenary Meeting and SciDataCon, the latter of which is organized by the International Science Council’s Committee on Data (CODATA) and World Data System (WDS).  

One of DevTech’s staff members from the ADVISE contract had the opportunity to present her work for the USAID Data Services team at the in-person component of SciDataCon. The presentation focused on the USAID Development Data Library (DDL)—the central repository for USAID-funded, machine-readable data—and the ways that a data repository with published international development project data can support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations. In the case of the DDL, tools built into the platform allow data submitters to select the SDG that is most pertinent to their project or activity, and users to filter catalog search results based on a particular SDG. When an implementing partner or USAID staff member completes the metadata for their DDL submission, they may select one of the 17 SDGs that best matches the goal of the activity for which they are submitting data. This option appears in the “Sustainable Development Goal” field of the metadata. As this field is marked as optional in the submission form, not all submitters select an SDG, but the DDL curation team ensures that all metadata fields are as complete as possible and will thus select an SDG on behalf of the submitter. After a data submission is published, it will be findable through the public catalog, where users can apply a search filter to narrow down results to those that match the particular SDG they are interested in. 

Tools such as the SDG metadata field and corresponding catalog filter allow USAID staff and implementing partners to better plan future programming, as they can more easily identify areas within international development where gaps still need to be filled. The DDL also helps build the Agency’s capacity to use data to monitor progress toward achievement of the SDGs, allowing staff to see how many activities with published data have been implemented for each goal. Session attendees were curious to learn more about how their own institutional data repositories can address the SDGs, as well as how researchers can benefit from the DDL more generally. 

Other sessions at IDW provided information that is valuable for open data practitioners as a collective, as well as insights that will be useful as the USAID Data Services team undertakes work on the Consolidated Digital Repository (CDR), which will combine the DDL and the USAID Development Experience Clearinghouse (DEC) into one domain. For example, one session focused on the Data Documentation Initiative’s cross-domain integration (DDI-CDI) metadata model, which the team that is building the CDR intends to implement. It was instructive to see how other repositories are already using the model as we continue to work on bringing the CDR online. Another session addressed different concerns around data ethics, such as the rights of human subjects, dual uses of data, and protection of sensitive data. While data repositories like the DDL seek to make data openly available, accessible, and usable, researchers and repositories have a responsibility to safeguard personal data that could hurt data collection participants if shared publicly. The session emphasized that privacy is heavily dependent on context, and a loss of contextual integrity can harm the privacy of participants. 

Overall, it was great to see so much interest in the DDL and its unique tools from the wider data community, as well as to learn more about other repositories and institutions that are working on similar issues with regards to metadata and privacy. To learn more about the DDL’s offerings and see these tools in action, users can visit 

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