MOLES3: Implementing an ISO standards driven data catalogue

  • Graham A Parton
  • Steven Donegan
  • Stephen Pascoe
  • Ag Stephens
  • Spiros Ventouras
  • Bryan N Lawrence


ISO19156 Observations and Measurements (O&M) provides a standardised framework for organising information about the collection of information about the environment.  Here we describe the implementation of a specialisation of O&M for environmental data, the Metadata Objects for Linking Environmental Sciences (MOLES3).

MOLES3 provides support for organising information about data, and for user navigation around data holdings. The implementation described here, “CEDA-MOLES”, also supports data management functions for the Centre for Environmental Data Archival, CEDA. The previous iteration of MOLES (MOLES2) saw active use over five years, being replaced by CEDA-MOLES in late 2014. During that period important lessons were learnt both about the information needed, as well as how to design and maintain the necessary information systems. In this paper we review the problems encountered in MOLES2; how and why CEDA-MOLES was developed and engineered; the migration of information holdings from MOLES2 to CEDA-MOLES; and, finally, provide an early assessment of MOLES3 (as implemented in CEDA-MOLES) and its limitations.

Key drivers for the MOLES3 development included the necessity for improved data provenance, for further structured information to support ISO19115 discovery metadata  export (for EU INSPIRE compliance), and to provide appropriate fixed landing pages for Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) in the presence of evolving datasets. Key lessons learned included the importance of minimising information structure in free text fields, and the necessity to support as much agility in the information infrastructure as possible without compromising on maintainability both by those using the systems internally and externally (e.g. citing in to the information infrastructure), and those responsible for the systems themselves. The migration itself needed to ensure continuity of service and traceability of archived assets.

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