Trustworthy Digital Repository
What makes a digital repository trustworthy? What is CoreTrustSeal? How can we make sure the repository is trusted by our depositors and data users?
Edinburgh DataShare’s mission is to anticipate and serve the data sharing, publication and preservation needs of researchers at the University of Edinburgh within an open access environment.
In January, 2022, Edinburgh DataShare achieved the CoreTrustSeal, a peer-reviewed certification that measures our application against its ‘Trustworthy Data Repositories Requirements catalogue and procedures’.
Much of what the CoreTrustSeal ensures is that we are serious about our commitment to preserve our researcher’s data for the long-term. But it is also about ensuring that data are usable for the benefit of other researchers, known as the ‘designated community’.
CoreTrustSeal is an international, non-profit organization promoting sustainable and trustworthy data infrastructures, under the umbrella of the global Research Data Alliance. It is the product of close collaboration between two predecessor certifying bodies - the World Data System of the International Science Council (WDS) and the Data Seal of Approval (DSA). Edinburgh DataShare had previously received the 3-year Data Seal of Approval certification in 2017.
Sustainability of repositories raises a number of challenging issues in different areas: organizational, technical, financial, legal, etc. Certification can be an important contribution to ensuring the reliability and durability of data repositories and hence the potential for sharing data over a long period of time. By becoming certified, repositories can demonstrate to both their users and their funders that an independent authority has evaluated them and endorsed their trustworthiness.
Standards of Trust
The CTS is one type of 'trust standard'. Others include Audit and certification of trustworthy digital repositories (ISO 16363) and Criteria for Trustworthy Digital Archives (DIN 31644). A set of principles, rather than certification, has also emerged from the repository community in 2020, called TRUST: defining best practice through transparency, responsibility, user focus, sustainability, and technology. Additionally, we measure ourselves against the COAR Community Framework for Good Practices in Repositories from the Confederation of Open Access Repositories, of which the University of Edinburgh Library is a member.
Researchers, the repository and trust
Perhaps even more important than attaining an official standard is knowing that researchers trust Edinburgh DataShare. What makes university data creators more likely to share their data using the institutional data repository? What makes external users more likely to use datasets they find in DataShare?
We know that items in the repository score high in search results on Google and Google Scholar. We also emphasise the benefits for depositors down the line, for example when they move to another institution, to be able to easily obtain their data, knowing that its integrity is secured.
We hope that the careful guidance we give data creators about how to make their data findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable (FAIR), the quality checks we do upon submission, as well as the rule that every data item must include some human-readable documentation, reaffirms our commitment and reassures users that they are accessing and using quality data. We trust that the University of Edinburgh’s reputation for world-class research lets users know that they are getting authentic, state of the art research data outputs from the DataShare repository.