Case Statements



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Please note that the Repository Audit and Certification DSA–WDS Partnership WG has now finished its term under RDA and has delivered its outputs


For those with an interest in the topic of certification, please visit (and join) our parent Interest Group: RDA/WDS Certification of Digital Repositories IG


To ensure the quality and usability of shared data, the long-term preservation of these data in sustainable digital repositories is a sine qua non. Data that are created and used by science and scholarship need to be managed, curated, and archived so that the substantial investments in preparing and presenting the content and tools will not be lost. Certification is fundamental in guaranteeing the trustworthiness of digital repositories, and thus in sustaining the opportunities for long-term data sharing and corresponding services.

In recent years, a number of certification standards and accreditation procedures have been developed worldwide: Data Seal of Approval (DSA), Network of Expertise in long-term Storage and Accessibility of Digital Resources in Germany (NESTOR) seal / German Institute for Standardization (DIN) standard 31644, Trustworthy Repositories Audit and Certification (TRAC) criteria / International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard 16363, and the International Council for Science World Data System (ICSU-WDS) certification of WDS Members.

The DSA and WDS certifications both offer a basic certification standard for trusted digital repositories. Their catalogues of requirements and their review procedures are based on the same principles of openness and transparency, and of striking the right balance between simplicity and robustness of the work and effort involved.

Up to this point, the two standards have evolved and operated independently. The primary focus of DSA has been on digital repositories in the Humanities and Social Sciences. For historical reasons, the focus of ICSU-WDS has been on Earth and Space Sciences. Both initiatives, however, have fully multidisciplinary missions.

There are differences between the two organizations that will need to be addressed. For example, ICSU-WDS has a membership focus, and includes not only data centres (mainly repositories) but also data services. Many of these data services consist of a number of components (data centres, analysis centres, product centres, etc.) and have their own organisational structure (e.g., central bureau or governing board). Moreover, the data services often have close linkages with the ICSU Scientific Unions and their Associations. The partnership between DSA and ICSU-WDS will need to handle this complexity.

Under the umbrella of the RDA/WDS Interest Group (IG) on Certification of Digital Repositories, this Working Group (WG)—consisting of representatives from the DSA and WDS communities and beyond—aims to explore and develop a DSA–WDS partnership with the objectives of realizing efficiencies, simplifying assessment options, stimulating more certifications, and increasing impact on the community. The output from this WG is envisioned as a possible first step towards developing a common framework for certification and a service of trusted data repositories.