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WDS International Technology Office Signs MoU with Canada's New Digital Research Infrastructure Organization

Karen.jpgBlog post by Karen Payne (WDS-ITO Associate Director)


You spoke. We listened. 

The WDS International Technology Office (WDS-ITO) was created to support Member Organizations of WDS as they develop their data repositories in the areas of data and metadata management, infrastructure, and interoperability. In order to respond most effectively to Member needs, last year the WDS-ITO, with the support of the WDS International Program Office, conducted a survey to evaluate your areas of interest and determine what types of projects you would like WDS to support. Our key finding was a list of potential WDS-ITO projects, ranked according to interest. You can read the report of the survey here. We discovered that the top two areas of interest were adding: 1) semantic markup to metadata and 2) harvestable metadata services. In response, the WDS-ITO has secured funds from Canada’s national New Digital Research Infrastructure Organization (NDRIO) to hire two fulltime staff members to work on these projects. The funding provides dedicated resources to develop collaborative partnerships among the WDS-ITO, its members, and relevant international and Canadian interest groups to increase availability and interoperability of metadata assets globally.

Over the next year, the WDS-ITO will be working with the Research Data Alliance Research Metadata Schemas Working Group (WG) to help provide repositories with guidance and tools to add Schema.org markup to metadata. As a first step, the WDS-ITO has prototyped an online visualization tool based on a survey of current practices in using schemas to describe research datasets. The tool shows how some communities have crosswalked common metadata terms to Schema.org properties, and can be useful to repositories that are interested in knowing how other repositories are utilizing Schema.org terms. It can also be used as consensus building for communities of practice that have not yet created a crosswalk between their metadata format of choice and Schema.org properties. We will continue to build on that tool, and provide other guidance to WDS Members to help make their metadata more ‘web friendly’ in the coming months.

Sankey DiagramFigure 1: A screenshot from the WDS-ITO prototype visualization tool showing crosswalks between Schema.org and common metadata standards.
Try it yourself at https://rd-alliance.github.io/Research-Metadata-Schemas-WG/

As part of our support for those groups interested in harvestable metadata, the WDS-ITO has created a WG of WDS Members who are interested in standing up harvestable metadata services. This WDS Harvestable Metadata Services (HMetS) WG is co-chaired by two members of the WDS Scientific Committee: Aude Chambodut, Director of the International Service of Geomagnetic Indices in Strasbourg (WDS Regular Member) and Juanle Wang, Director of the WDC for Renewable Resources and Environment in Beijing (WDS Regular Member). The HMetS WG is coordinated by Alicia Urquidi Diaz, the WDS-ITO’s first employee! To date, eight WDS Member Representatives have expressed interest in participating in the WG, and we welcome any other Members who would like to join.

This project is designed around three objectives:

  1. Documenting use cases, the current challenges faced by WDS Members who wish to create harvestable services. What is their current infrastructure?
  2. Helping develop implementation plans, written by Members to define a pathway to creating harvestable metadata services.
  3. A paper identifying lessons learned and guidance materials that can be used by the wider Research Data Management community

The HMetS WG will convene regular online meetings, and bring in presenters who can speak to some of the pathways and long-term benefits of creating harvestable metadata services.

Both of the above work packages will draw on the expertise of and synchronize with ongoing research data management activities in Canada, with the ultimate goal of opening up more metadata records to the international scientific community.

You can read the NDRIO funding announcement here in English and French.