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Knowledge Network Working Group

The Knowledge Network is a Web-based, interlinked repository of relationships between the actors and entities that make up our research landscape: people, institutions, projects, research disciplines and topics, funding sources, and the like. ICSU-WDS has a stated objective to establish an aggregation of WDS Members’ metadata holdings so that the extent of data and services offered are discoverable through a single interface. However, ICSU-WDS would also like to go further than this; it would also like to create a broader Knowledge Network in which additional information sources—including the WDS-IPO’s existing database of Member information—are used to supplement Members’ metadata by means of Linked Open Data repositories. Through this extension into Knowledge Networks, ICSU-WDS feels that it can significantly enhance the usefulness of its metadata resource and improve the ability of researchers, funding agencies, and data centre management to understand and apply this information.

Knowledge Network Background

The WDS Scientific Committee (WDS-SC) identified at its 7th meeting (1–2 November 2012; Taipei), the need to update the concept of the WDS Data Portal and to build an online open WDS Metadata Catalogue that can be used to discover and access the quality-assessed scientific data and information holdings of WDS Regular and Network Members. The catalogue would also provide a unique and aggregated metadata entry point for interested initiatives such as the Global Earth Observation System of Systems.

The WDS-SC also identified the need to test the feasibility of developing a scalable and agile WDS Knowledge Network, which draws information from the WDS Metadata Catalogue, but which is heavily supplemented with additional data and information from a variety of other sources. By richly cataloguing information about accredited centres/service providers (and other known data providing entities), ICSU-WDS can become the lead source of information on global capability with respect to scientific data centre/service providers. Information about these entities would be openly discoverable electronically by presenting both human and machine interfaces into the Network. This knowledge network would by default differentiate providers on the basis of their accreditation (i.e., accreditation provided by ICSU-WDS and any other accreditation schemes that currently exist, or which emerge in the future, to cover specific domains/networks). Such a Knowledge Network would provide a powerful tool for research projects and science funders to map the multidisciplinary data and information supplier landscape, and in so doing help to identify—for example—datasets, existing gaps in information provision, or partners who are available for collaboration. Furthermore, the existence of this Network would help reduce global duplication of data management and data sharing efforts, and hence result in improved cost-effectiveness of science funding programmes.


Terms of Reference

  1. Establish the requirements and specifications for an open WDS Metadata Catalogue and once agreed, develop the strategy for its implementation.
  2. Establish the requirements and specifications for a WDS Knowledge Network and once agreed, develop the strategy for its implementation.
  3. Identify the specifications for an open WDS Catalogue of data services.
  4. Look for obvious content synergies with the redevelopment of the IPO-hosted WDS Member accreditation system (in terms of reusing information supplied by applicants and requesting information that can populate the network).
  5. Look for obvious content and task synergies with developing the WDS Metadata Catalogue (in terms of reusing information supplied, controlled vocabularies used, sharing of catalogue interfaces, data stores, and code).
  6. Identify existing sources of data service information that can readily be harvested, categorized, organized, and utilized to seed the Network.
  7. Conduct a bounded pilot-project to experiment with different Linked Data approaches for knowledge representation and discovery in the Network.
  8. Advise on appropriate standards and technology choices.


Deliverables and Milestones

  1. Concept White Paper: Describes the basis of the WDS approach to develop a Metadata Catalogue integrated with a Knowledge Network resource. Describes the rationale, advantages, research questions and challenges, and conceptual architecture. This assists WDS membership with understanding the future directions of ICSU-WDS from a technology perspective.
  2. Standards and Technologies Guidelines: A detailed review and selection of standards and technologies that will support the conceptual architecture. This output not only guides ICSU-WDS in the development of its own Metadata Catalogue and Knowledge Network, but also serves as a blueprint and a technical roadmap for WDS membership in respect of interoperability.
  3. Platform for Metadata Catalogue Deployment: A suitable platform and host institution needs to be identified for the WDS Metadata Catalogue implementation. A service-level agreement and funding arrangements, if any, need to be formalized.
  4. Platform for Knowledge Network Deployment: A suitable platform for the Knowledge Network needs to be identified—bearing in mind that it need not physically be in the same location as the WDS Metadata Catalogue, and may even be a federated collection of node repositories. Again, a service-level agreement and funding arrangements must be formalized.
  5. Pilot Implementation: A Knowledge Network pilot implementation will demonstrate the usefulness of the concept and technology by leveraging (initially) WDS Metadata Catalogue information, such as is available, and WDS membership information. The scope of the pilot implementation needs to be confirmed by the Working Group, and is dependent on progress with the WDS Metadata Catalogue, availability of indirect funding, and contributions in kind from Working Group members. External funding may be obtained, and should be pursued.
  6. WDS Metadata Catalogue Implementation: The WDS Metadata Catalogue needs to be made operational as soon as resources permit, and is an ongoing process. A minimum critical mass is required before launch, and this decision ultimately lies with the WDS-SC.



  1. Agree a Terms of Reference and Project Charter for the Working Group: December 2012 
  2. Canvass external members and obtain commitment to participate: January 2013
  3. Ongoing promotion and discussion, and a search for funding opportunities and supporting projects: from January 2013
  4. Inaugural Working Group meeting: February 2013
    Subsequent meetings for a period of one year on a monthly basis, by agreement between members.
  5. Start concept white paper: end of March 2013
  6. Invite WDS Members to participate: April 2013
  7. Confirmation of technology choices and applicable standards: end April 2013
  8. Ongoing WDS Catalogue Implementation: from early May 2013
  9. Finalize the concept white paper and technology choices. Identify a suitable international event for a one-day work session: approx. April/May 2013
  10. Knowledge Network pilot project implementation: from end of  September 2013



The Chair/Co-chairs and members of the Working Group are appointed by the WDS-SC, and membership is to be reviewed every two years during one of its face-to-face meetings.


  • Wim Hugo (South Africa; SAEON) [WDS-SC]


  • Rob Atkinson (Australia; CSIRO)
  • Michael Diepenbroek (Germany; PANGAEA) [WDS-SC]
  • Peter Fox (USA; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute)
  • Jane Hunter (Australia; University of Queensland) [WDS-SC]
  • Yasuhiro Murayama (Japan; NICT) [WDS-SC (ex officio)]
  • Mark Parsons (USA; Research Data Alliance)

Ex officio members:

  • Rorie Edmunds (WDS-IPO)
  • Mustapha Mokrane (WDS-IPO)



This Working Group activity and its continued operation will be reviewed in November 2014.