By Robert Ulrich, KIT Library, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Research data are valuable and ubiquitous. But the sustainable availability of research data is a challenge for all stakeholders in the scientific community and it can be difficult to find appropriate repositories.

re3data is a registry of research data repositories from across the globe, which isn’t restricted to specific academic disciplines. re3data fosters a culture of sharing, increased access and better visibility of research data and promotes the FAIR principles, as well as the spirit of open access. It presents repositories for permanent storage and access to data sets for researchers, funding bodies, publishers and journalists. Running the service, three main types of usage became apparent, which are finding and storing research data, analyzing, building up and interconnecting infrastructure, and services based on the provided information.

As an entry point to scientific resources, re3data is not limited to researchers. It already serves as a source for funders, policy-makers, and public administration. For example, it is a data provider for the EU Open Science Monitor. More than 2,000 repositories have been indexed since the beginning of 2018, covering a wide array of datasets. This data may serve as foundation and evidence for any data journalist, not just those dedicated to scientific reporting. Since re3data is not domain specific it covers a great number of the subject areas from engineering, natural science, but especially humanities and social sciences and the life sciences. 

Metadata schema

re3data provides structured metadata for each repository and therefore required a metadata schema, which has been adopted by many others as a de facto standard. The schema of re3data covers various aspects of repositories. These can be grouped into six main categories:

  • General information
  • Policies
  • Legal aspects
  • Technological standards
  • Quality standards
  • Type of access

For quick visual guidance, these categories are also reflected within the icon system of re3data.

Describing research data repositories is an ongoing process, due to the continued and versatile development of research data management. re3data started with a few basic properties in 2012, and evolved to an extensive metadata schema. Currently, the metadata schema is available in version 3.0 with over 141 properties in total. But impending requirements from the research community have been identified already and further versions are to be released.

Browsing and searching for research data

re3data shows repository results as a long simple list, but it also provides various functions for researchers to explor and find repositories without much effort. Besides looking up entries by keywords, the tool also includes a faceted search function and visual searching tool. This allows users to filter the entities for each property using the metadata schema, so that they can refine the result list to their specific needs.. For example, a journalist can narrow down the desired subject area swiftly or lookup repositories for a specific country.

Indexing repositories all over the world, re3data also provides basic statistical analyses. For further investigations within the research infrastructure landscape, all data is offered via API. It is also Creative Commons and free of charge.

About the author

Robert Ulrich is a developer at the Library of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT). Besides re3data he works on a number of research data services provided by the joint service team [email protected].

Explore re3data here.