25 March 2009

European Initiative to facilitate access to research data

A group of Europe’s leading research libraries and technical information providers have established a partnership to improve access to research data on the internet.

The German National Library of Science and Technology (TIB), the British Library, the Library of the ETH Zurich, the French Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (INIST), the Technical Information Center of Denmark and the Dutch TU Delft Library all signed a Memorandum of Understanding to this effect during the meeting of the International Council for Scientific and Technical Information (ICSTI) in Paris on 2 March 2009.

The goal of this cooperation is to establish a not-for-profit agency that enables organisations to register research datasets and assign persistent identifiers to them, so that research datasets can be handled as independent, citable, unique scientific objects.

“This is an important step in developing a strategy in a new field of responsibility and services for libraries and other information providers”, said Uwe Rosemann, Director of TIB. Maria Heijne, Director of the TU Delft Library added: “Citability of research data will reward researchers and therefore hopefully convince them that long term data preservation is worth while.”

As a first step, this agency will build on an approach developed by TIB and promote the use of Digital Object Identifiers (DOI) for datasets. A Digital Object Identifier (DOI) is used to cite and link to electronic resources (text as well as research data and other types of content). The DOI differs from other reference systems commonly used on the Internet, such as the URL, since it is permanently linked to the object itself, not just to the place in which the object is located. Since 2005 TIB has registered around 600,000 research data sets with a DOI name to allow easy access and improve citability.

The long term vision of the partnership is to support researchers by providing methods for them to locate, identify, and cite research datasets with confidence. Further countries and organisations are encouraged to join the partnership.

The picture was taken in Paris after the signing of the Memorandum and shows from left to right:

  • Herbert Gruttemeier, INIST, France
  • Adam Farquhar, The British Library, United Kingdom
  • Maria Heijne, TU Delft Library, The Netherlands
  • Jan Brase (for Uwe Rosemann), TIB, Germany
  • Wolfram Neubauer, ETH Library Zürich, Switzerland
  • Mogens Sandfaer, Technical Information Center of Denmark