• Output Type: Adoption Report
  • Review Status: Endorsed
  • Review Deadline: 2024-03-01
  • Author(s): Bridget Walker
  • Group Name: Data Repository Attributes WG
  • Standards:
  • Regions: Europe
  • Language:
  • Non RDA Author(s)

  • Adopters

  • Abstract

     Data Repository Attributes WG
    Group co-chairs: Matthew Cannon, Allyson Lister, Washington Luís Ribeiro de Segundo, Kathleen Shearer, Michael Witt, Kazu Yamaji
    Recommendation Title: RDA Common Descriptive Attributes of Research Data Repositories
    Authors: Michael Witt, Matthew Cannon, Allyson Lister, Washington Segundo, Kathleen Shearer, Kazu Yamaji and the Research Data Alliance Data Repository Attributes Working Group

    A complete and current description of a research data repository is important to help a user find the repository; to learn the repository’s purpose, policies, functionality and other characteristics; and to evaluate the fitness for their use of the repository and the data that it stewards. Many repositories do not provide adequate descriptions in their websites, structured metadata and documentation, which can make this challenging. Even fewer make this information available in a machine-readable or actionable manner, which hampers interoperability. Descriptive attributes may be expressed and exposed in different ways, making it difficult to compare repositories and to integrate repositories with other infrastructures such as registries. They can be difficult to navigate and find: they may be locked behind authentication, obscured within workflows, or buried in myriad documentation and web pages.

    Well-described data repositories provide value and impact to a broad set of stakeholders such as researchers, repository managers, repository developers, publishers, funders, registries and others to discover and utilize data repositories. Some motivating use cases for the development of these attributes include:

    • As a researcher, I would like to be able to discover repositories where I can deposit my data based on attributes that are important to me.
    • As a repository manager, I would like to know what attributes are important for me to provide to users in order to advertise my repository, its services, and its data collections.
    • As a repository developer, I would like to understand how to express and serialize these attributes as structured metadata for reuse by users and user agents in a manner that can be integrated into the functionality of my repository software platform.
    • As a publisher, I would like to inform journal editors and authors of what repositories are appropriate to deposit their datasets that are associated with manuscripts that are being submitted.
    • As a funder, I would like to be able to recommend and monitor data repositories to be utilized in conjunction with public access plans and data management plans for the research that I am sponsoring.
    • As a registry, I would like to be able to easily identify and index attributes of data repositories to help users find the best repository for their purpose.


    After the approval of its case statement, the Data Repository Attributes Working Group (DRAWG) conducted its work over the course of 3 RDA plenaries and 37 meetings of its co-chairs and working group between February 2022 and March 2024. The 146 members of the group broadly represented a spectrum of stakeholders engaged in different capacities with data repositories from a variety of roles, disciplines, and countries. Meetings were prepared each month by the co-chairs to facilitate scoped discussions that actively engaged members in an iterative, consensus-building process to design and populate the attributes that included creating user stories; engaging stakeholders in focus groups; reviewing published literature and guidance from funders, publishers, and scholarly societies; inviting expert critiques from outside of the group; trial implementations; and community review. The RDA Common Descriptive Attributes of Research Data Repositories represents a synthesis of these intensive discussions that is intended to be practical and useful for those who build, manage, use, track, and interoperate with data repositories through both human and machine interfaces.

    Recommendation package DOI: 10.15497/rda00103
    Citation: Witt, M., Cannon, M., Lister, A., Segundo, W., Shearer, K., Yamaji, K., & Research Data Alliance Data Repository Attributes Working Group. (2024). RDA Common Descriptive Attributes of Research Data Repositories (Version 1.0). Research Data Alliance. https://doi.org/10.15497/RDA00103


    The RDA Common Descriptive Attributes of Research Data Repositories outlines a list of common, concise, high-level descriptors that represent information that can be useful in describing a research data repository along with examples of how each attribute can be expressed as metadata in different schemata, limitations and potential complications that each might pose in harmonization, a brief rationale for why each attribute is important and a gap analysis of how easy or difficult it may currently be to locate this information from a data repository. The attributes are conceptual with examples provided for illustration purposes without endorsement of any particular approach, standard or implementation.

    UN Sustainable Development Goals

    While this recommendation does not support one or more of the specific SDGs, well-described, interoperable, well-promoted data repositories support research that can advance any of the goals in a general manner.

  • Impact Statement

  • Primary Field or Expertise

  • Explanation

  • Citations

  • Primary Domain: Natural Sciences
  • RDA Pathways:
  • Group Technology focus: Dissemination
  • Regions: Europe
  • Stakeholders:
  • Sustainable Development Goals:
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