Ten Years Back, Five Years Forward: The Data Seal of Approval
If we want to share data, the long-term storage of those data in a trustworthy digital archive is an essential condition. Trust is the basis of storing and sharing data. That trust must be present in the various stakeholders involved. Certification of digital archives can make an important contribution to the confidence of these stakeholders in the digital archives.
Ten years ago DANS was assigned the task of developing a Seal of Approval for digital data to ensure that archived data can still be found, understood and used in the future. In 2009 this Data Seal of Approval (DSA) was transferred to an international body, the DSA Board, which has managed and further developed the guidelines and the peer review process ever since.
The objectives of the DSA are to safeguard data, ensure high quality and guide reliable management of data for the future without requiring implementation of new standards, regulations or heavy investments. The DSA contains 16 guidelines for applying and verifying quality aspects concerning the creation, storage, use and reuse of digital data.
Based on feedback from data archives that applied for a DSA and different case studies we have gained some insight into the benefits of DSA. Still, the impact of having the Seal is not easy to measure. Seal holders usually refer to qualitative benefits in the form of increased awareness of the value of their repositories to their communities, funders and publishers.
Ten years down the line we can safely state that the Data Seal of Approval has proven its added value. If we try to look five years into the future, what can we expect? There are different developments: a growing interest in DSA among European research infrastructures, the collaboration between DSA and the ISCU World Data System under the umbrella of the RDA (Research Data Alliance) and the European Commission is showing a growing interest in certification services.
The success of DSA also provides the challenge to further professionalize the DSA organization in the coming years, this to enable its community to continue to grow. All in all there are promising developments for a bright future for the Data Seal of Approval.
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