Welcome to the blog for the Jisc UK Research Data Discovery Service. Further details about the project can be found on the About page, but this initial post provides an introduction to the project.

Following on from the initial pilot (phase 1) work, where the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) piloted an approach to a registry service aggregating metadata for research data held within UK universities and national, discipline specific data centres, this project builds on this initial pilot work with the aim of running a UK Research Data Discovery service. This project (phase 2) will lay firm foundations for the service, including a service operation plan and business case for its delivery into the future.


In 2013, the Digital Curation Centre (DCC) piloted an approach to a registry service to aggregate metadata for research data held within UK universities and national, discipline specific data centres.

This six month pilot, which engaged the support of a number of higher education institutions (HEIs), tested an existing data registry architecture, based on the software and metadata requirements of Research Data Australia developed by the Australian National Data Service (ANDS). Its aims were to demonstrate the feasibility of a research data discovery service for the UK and to develop a better understanding of the optimal technical platform, metadata strategy and harvesting mechanism.

An essential feature was to initiate the engagement with stakeholders from the HEIs and data centres to ensure the pilot was designed to meet stakeholder requirements.

The issue

In order to be reused, research data must be discoverable. Universities are making research data assets available through repositories or other data portals. 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, 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.

The solution

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

About the project

In this second phase of work, we will:

  • Build on the stakeholder engagement
  • Further evaluate the ANDS solution and explore an alternative such as the Comprehensive Knowledge Archive Network (CKAN)
  • Assess whether any other solutions are potential candidates
  • Continue the metadata standards work
  • Move the pilot to a suitable instantiation for a future service.

This Jisc-led initiative, with support from the Digital Curation Centre and the UK Data Archive, will develop a discovery service that enables the discovery of UK research data, meets our customer requirements and is in a position to be taken forward into a service run by Jisc.

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