31. maaliskuuta 2020

Supporting Certification - SSHOC Project Helps Digital Repositories in Becoming More Trustworthy

Good news on the Social Sciences and Humanities Open Cloud (SSHOC) project: the first deliverable in task 8.2, which is led by the Finnish Social Data Archive, was published in late March. The deliverable lays the ground for the SSHOC trust work that is needed in order to facilitate the adoption of Trustworthy Digital Repository (TDR) standards and the FAIR principles in data repositories across the social sciences and humanities.

The task team also specified modes of support in building trust and helping repositories reach TDR certification, charted the current trust landscape within the SSHOC communities, and selected the repositories that will be the main focus of the support activities provided by task 8.2 within the timeframe of the project.

SSHOC is one of the five cluster projects within the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) initiative, and the project focuses on increasing and improving the reuse of research data in the social sciences and humanities. Task 8.2, Trust & Quality Assurance, concentrates on developing an agreed approach to assessing the trustworthiness and quality of data repositories. The task joins colleagues from three ERICs (CESSDA, CLARIN and DARIAH) and one aspiring ERIC (E-RIHS).

Flexible yet sustainable approach to trust

The diversity of repositories within the SSHOC communities requires an approach to TDR certification that is sustainable but also adaptable to a wide range of data infrastructures at varying levels of maturity. The task team selected the CoreTrustSeal as the standard certification reference for SSHOC.

The CoreTrustSeal consists of sixteen requirements for which applicants are asked to provide self-assessment statements along with relevant evidence. The CoreTrustSeal is sufficiently stringent but significantly less costly and labour-intensive than formal audit against ISO/DIN standards. Certification requirements for the CoreTrustSeal are also reviewed every three years in comparison with every five years for ISO/DIN standards.

As a community-driven TDR framework, with over 80 past certifications (in March 2020), CoreTrustSeal is open to feedback and continuously considering the widest possible range of certification candidates. However, the task team also identified certain types of organisations for which the CoreTrustSeal requirements are not applicable. Identifying these cases will help develop the CoreTrustSeal framework to better support a variety of repositories.

Support for certification efforts

It is evident that achieving CoreTrustSeal certification requires resources and work from repositories. Even though the workflows and processes themselves related to trustworthy preservation of data may be well established, work may be needed in producing publicly available documentation to show that these processes are sufficient to meet the requirements of certification.

For this reason, the task team specified modes of support provided to repositories for attaining the CoreTrustSeal. The level of SSHOC support required will depend on the starting state of the repositories. The team will amend the modes of support according to the repositories' needs.

The task team aims to raise awareness of the relevance of certification of repositories and the role of the CoreTrustSeal in this via existing communication channels. Webinars and workshops held for repositories will guide and support them in their certification efforts. The team will also provide feedback on self-assessments primarily to the selected repositories (see Table 1 in the report).

For its first support event, SSHOC task 8.2 will host a webinar on Thursday 23 March (more details on the way). In addition to the support activities, further work in 2020 for task 8.2 includes liaising with other relevant projects, such as EOSC-Nordic and FAIRsFAIR.

Further information:

» Development Manager Mari Kleemola
» SSHOC D8.2 Deliverable: Certification plan for SSHOC repositories
» SSHOC project website
» CoreTrustSeal

Niko Koski
Information Specialist
etunimi.sukunimi [at] tuni.fi

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