We're developing a UK research data discovery service.
In order to be re-used, research data must be discoverable. Universities are making research data assets available through repositories or other data portals and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) requires research organisations to maintain a data catalogue.
It is likely that some mechanism for aggregation will be necessary to increase visibility and to promote discovery and linking between datasets in related subject areas held in different institutions. Whereas document repositories can, in principle, make articles open to full-text searching by Google, this recourse is not available to data archives relying on metadata.
Why we're doing this
As UK universities become more involved in the management of research data and capacity develops, the requirement for a UK research data discovery service has grown. The benefits of such a service include:
- Breaking down data silos, encouraging linking and reuse of related data collections, particularly in interdisciplinary research
- Facilitating linking data to other research outputs, making data citation and referencing easier, and thereby incorporating data in research achievements and impact
Such a system should be intuitive to use, built on user requirements acquired through community engagement and tested through participation of pilot organisations by the harvesting of their metadata.
What we've done so far
The project is being undertaken in three distinct phases:
Initial pilot - October 2013 to March 2014
In the initial pilot work in 2013-14, the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) and the UK Data Service (UKDS), funded by Jisc, piloted an approach to a registry service aggregating metadata for research data held within UK higher education institutions (HEIs) and national, discipline-specific data centres.
Developing the alpha service - March 2015 to September 2016
This Jisc-led second phase of the project included support from the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) and the UK Data Service (UKDS), on HEI and data centre engagement respectively. It built on the pilot work with the aim of running a test UK research data discovery service.
The main aim of the second phase was to lay the firm foundations for the service by harvesting metadata from nine HEIs and six data centres. These pilot organisations provided metadata of their research data collections for harvesting, provided a set of user requirements and helped to test the alpha system. The alpha service was made publicly available during development to ensure the research community had the opportunity to test its functionality.
This phase came to an end with a final workshop for all participants where the alpha system was tested, requirements were reviewed and the plans for the next phase were presented.
Moving from an alpha to beta service - October 2016 to September 2017
The third phase of the project has the following objectives:
- Enhance the service by adding further requirements
- Incorporate other participants’ metadata (potentially for all HEIs with research data collections)
- Run as an enhanced beta service to allow for further testing
- At the end of the project have a fully functional system ready to operate as a service (provided it meets the relevant criteria and the business case is agreed within Jisc)
Find out more
The alpha phase of the research data discovery service is available to browse and test. Read more about the project on our blog.
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