The RDA CoreTrustSeal adoption story across domains and regions

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04 June 2019 578 reads

CoreTrustSeal offers to any interested data repository a core level certification based on the DSA–WDS Core Trustworthy Data Repositories Requirements catalogue and procedures. This universal catalogue of requirements reflects the core characteristics of trustworthy data repositories, and is the culmination of a cooperative effort between the Data Seal of Approval (DSA) and the World Data System of the International Science Council (WDS) under the umbrella of the Research Data Alliance (RDA) to harmonize their data repository certifications. The RDA Secretariat has collected a global set of 5 adoption stories to inspire its further uptake by sharing a wide variety of challenges faced, implementation processes and lessons learned.  


Adopter Country   Domain 
Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS) Netherlands Cross-Domain
Strasbourg astronomical Data Centre CDS (Centre de Données astronomique de Strasbourg) France Astronomy

Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Data Access Portal (DAP)

Australia Cross-Domain
Australian Data Archive (ADA) Australia Cross-Domain
Chinese Astronomical Data Centre (CAsDC) China Astronomy




From RDA Repository Audit and Certification Catalogues recommendation to CoreTrustSeal

The Repository Audit and Certification Catalogues, a two-part recommendation produced by the RDA Repository Audit and Certification DSA–WDS Partnership WG created a common procedures and requirements for certification of repositories at the core level, drawing from the procedures and catalogues of criteria already put in place by the DSA and WDS. On the basis of this effort, the DSA and the WDS Certification of Regular Members merged into the CoreTrustSeal, thereby gradually replacing these predecessor certification standards.


The stories

Australian Data Archive (ADA)

Under a project funded by Australian National Data Services (ANDS) in 2016, the Australian Data Archive (ADA) undertook a self-evaluation audit of ADA systems and policies using the European Framework for Audit and Certification of Digital Repositories (EFAC) basic certification standard (the Data Seal of Approval - DSA). The DSA was in the process of developing the RDA working group with WDS, and by the time of completion of the project, the certification being undertaken had become the CoreTrustSeal. The CoreTrusrSeal was awarded to the ADA in February 2018.

By undergoing the process of self-assessment and peer review the Australian Data Archive (ADA)hopes to better align its practices with international standards. ADA used the CoreTrustSeal evaluation process to identify areas for improvement in the archive. It is hoped that the CoreTrustSeal will assist the user community of the ADA, as the CoreTrustSeal provides a certification of trustworthiness and robust practices in the archiving and dissemination of data. Dr. Heather Leasor, Archivist, Australian Data Archive

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Strasbourg astronomical Data Centre CDS (Centre de Données astronomique de Strasbourg)

Strasbourg astronomical Data Centre CDS (Centre de Données astronomique de Strasbourg) services are widely used by the worldwide astronomical community. The one million queries per day in 2018, shows that it is considered as fully trustworthy in the disciplinary context. When the World Data System (WDS) defined its criteria for Regular membership, CDS considered it important to join this community, which was initially Earth Sciences and Astronomy. This was done in 2012. A few years later, CDS applied to the Data Seal of Approval (DSA), which it obtained in 2014—the first time the Seal was granted to a repository from the physical science domain. The application preparation led CDS to check its processes and describe them end-to-end, a useful exercise, and their  authorities were appreciative of the certification by external, recognized bodies. It was then only a natural step to apply for CoreTrustSeal when it was time to renew the DSA in 2018.

Evaluation of the repository trustworthiness by an external, recognized body is an important asset. It can be put forward to the repository authorities and users. Depositing data in a certified repository is a positive point in data management plans and certification will encourage data providers to deposit data in the repository. Dr. Françoise Genova,  Senior Researcher, CDS, Observatoire Astronomique de Strasbourg

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Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS)

The mission of Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS) in the Netherlands is to promote and provide permanent access to digital research information. DANS is and has always been heavily involved in creating and achieving certification for the trustworthiness of digital repositories. Over the years we went through the process of acquiring certification with two goals: first, to show our stakeholders the trustworthiness of our repository, and second, to improve our internal processes and update our documentation. Preparing for certification is a perfect opportunity to raise the bar and reinforce collaboration between our archive, IT, policy and legal departments.

DANS has used the CoreTrustSeal to sustain and display its reputation as trustworthy data repository in a transparent way, which induces stakeholder confidence and differentiates us from others. At the same time, it helps us raise awareness on digital preservation and the importance of long-term availability of data for reuse. Next to that, the procedure of getting certified improves (internal) communication on our overall mission and goals, but also has a positive effect on our processes and procedures making them even more effective and efficient. Dr. Ingrid Dillo, Deputy Director, DANS, The Netherlands

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Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Data Access Portal (DAP)

The CoreTrustSeal certification project investigated Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO) institutional repository Data Access Portal (DAP) as a trustworthy data repository. There were two parts to the project. Firstly, to use the Core Trustworthy Data Repositories Requirements, an outcome of the RDA/WDS Certification of Digital Repositories Interest Group, to undertake a self-assessment of the DAP. Secondly, to investigate policies, procedures or DAP development to host externally owned data in the DAP. An application was submitted to the CoreTrustSeal and the DAP was certified as a trustworthy data repository in October 2018.

Having the DAP certified with the CoreTrustSeal contributes to CSIRO’s reputation as a trusted organisation and ensures the DAP is following international standards. There has been feedback from CSIRO’s researchers that the CoreTrustSeal certification for the DAP really matters in building trust when they point data users to their published data and software. Also, knowing the DAP has been certified as a trustworthy data repository assists with decision making in repository choice. It provides confidence in the long-term access and reliability of the data. An immediate impact of the project was that documentation was readily available to address a funders requirement of making data open. Mikaela Lawrence, Data Librarian, CSIRO

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Chinese Astronomical Data Centre (CAsDC)

The Chinese Astronomical Data Center (CAsDC) has been providing data services to users for over 30 years, and has great influence in the Chinese astronomical community. Over the years however, we did not attach much importance to the standardization of data management, resulting in repetitive work and omissions. As a mandatory standard for WDS, CoreTrustSeal provides us with a comprehensive checklist for all aspects of our work in data management. By introducing the CoreTrustSeal system, we realized that we identified areas where we could make improvements, and acted accordingly. In the future, we will continue to make improvements on data management procedures based on CoreTrustSeal,  and we recommend other data centers to adopt this standard.

We found that for each requirement in the CoreTrustSeal system, CAsDC has more or less work done for it. The problem is that a lot of things have been done, but there was no formal summary and documentations. Therefore, there is not a standard procedure formed for repetitive work, and which can be optimized gradually. From now on, we must consider promoting the standardization of procedure while carrying out specific work, and constantly summarizing and improving the procedure. Prof. Chenzhou Cui, National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences

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  1. Australian Data Archive (ADA) 
  2. National Astronomical Observatories, Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAsDC)
  3. Observatoire Astronomique de Strasbourg (CDS)
  4. Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation’s (CSIRO)
  5. Data Archiving and Networked Services (DANS)
  6. Digital Repository of Ireland