CoreTrustSeal Workshop Review

A very well attended workshop, sponsored by the CONUL Research Group, took place on April 20th in the Berkeley Library in Trinity College Dublin. The workshop was presented by Dr John B Howard of University College Dublin, a founding member of the CoreTrustSeal Board of Directors. Dr Howard was introduced by the chair of the Research Group Julia Barrett.
The workshop reviewed the concept of “trust” in the context of data management and Open Science and highlighted the issue for managers of digital repository services. Dr Howard began by identifying how trust operates in commonplace life and pondered the problem of whether we can assert trust of ourselves or whether it is really something that others bestow on us. In this way he posited that transparency and trust relationships flow from our relationship with the community. Two key foundational elements found in the OAIS model were identified as critical to establishing trustworthiness. Firstly he highlighted the need to clearly understand the “designated community” for the repository and secondly to realise that repositories are made up of both people and systems working together – “both a social and a technical entity”.

Having established “who the repository is for” and the various roles and systems within the repository the process of certification affirms its trustworthiness.  Dr Howard outlined the various approaches to certification, from formal to less formal, and as practiced in antecedent versions to the CoreTrustSeal, the Data Seal of Approval and the ICSU/World Data Systems assessment. He then explained how those two assessment approaches had been synthesised into a common approach which draws on the experience of the two frameworks and can also call on a wider range of reviewers.

Dr Howard outlined the practicalities of Certification which includes a fee of 1000 euros but which then allows the applicant to submit the application up to five times as part of the paid application. This allows the applicant to learn through feedback from the reviewers and to iteratively improve both their documentation and processes. He pointed out that no applications have thus far gone through on first application but commonly do so on the second application, which then awards a three year certification.

The workshop’s final section saw Dr Howard go into detail about the 16 requirements for CTS approval. These broadly fit into three categories, Organisational (6), Digital Object Management (8) and Technological (2). He outlined how open and clear documentation for each of these requirements is crucial to certification and on some of the pitfalls which applicants can encounter during the process. Dr Howard fielded a number of questions during and after the workshop but left the participants with an important takeaway message – “don’t begin the process until you have prepared!”


The workshop slide presentation is available at