The Helmholtz Metadata Collaboration (HMC) – addressing the metadata problem

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29 Jan 2020

The Helmholtz Metadata Collaboration (HMC) – addressing the metadata problem

The Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres and its international partners produce and exchange outstanding research data permanently. The efficiency and effect of research can be improved by a powerful and future-oriented research data management. It preserves research results in the long term and increases confidence in the data through the reproducibility of those results. Metadata are essential information for finding, under­standing and reusing research data as outlined by the FAIR Principles. Researchers are, however, often challenged to collect, store and document their metadata in accordance with the common standards. To improve the metadata handling within its organization the Helmholtz Association recently launched a major initiative to establish the Helmholtz Metadata Collaboration (HMC) Platform. The HMC will provide comprehensive services, consulting, infor­mation and tools for an efficient handling of metadata. Community-Expertise to handle the metadata within the six Helmholtz research areas (Energy; Earth and Environment; Health; Matter; Infor­mation; Aeronautics, Space and Transport) is jointly developed, shared and consolidated in the platform. Within the Helmholtz Association, HMC will develop and establish key competences and services for these purposes.

The HMC platform is based on a distributed structure of discipline specific Metadata Hubs for each of the Helmholtz research fields. These hubs activate competences, nurture ideas and collect demands of their domains to develop solutions to current metadata challenges. The Metadata Hubs are accompanied by central service units, tasked with the technical developments, support and project logistics, to implement recommended solutions and activities derived from the hubs as services or tools. The technical units will make use of existing infrastructures and concepts where appropriate, e.g. FAIR data objects or existing standards, ontologies or vocabularies, and will develop new services when appropriate. Annual open project calls addressing metadata implementation challenges allow for an active participation of all Helmholtz researchers and their partners in the HMC. Generically usable processes, technical solutions as well as training, education and data consulting services are set up and made available to the Metadata Hubs for specific adaptation and utilization. Any activities of the HMC are embedded in the national and international context, along the scientific domains as well as within the community of information and data science. 

Helmholtz Association’s ultimate goal is to create a platform not only for its internal use, but to establish a public, open, long-term available community service handling metadata. This activity tackles one of the oldest and most pressing challenges in Data Science. We invite interested parties to share thoughts and ideas with us, in setting up such a platform. 


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Name & surname: 
Lorenz, Sören; Emanuel Söding (1); Denker, Michael (2); Finke, Ants (3); Langenbach, Christian (4); Stotzka, Rainer (5), Ückert, Frank (6);
Scientific Discipline / Research Area: 
Natural Sciences/Computer and information sciences
1) GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, (2) Forschungszentrum Jülich, (3) Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin, (4) German Aerospace Center (DLR), (5) Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) (6) German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ)
PDF icon poster-HMC_RDA_15_final.pdf1.07 MB