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Accreditation of WDS Regular Members

Introduction

WDS Regular Members are organizations providing data stewardship and/or data analysis services (e.g., data repositories and data publication services).

As part of the process of developing ICSU-WDS, certification criteria and a transparent and objective procedure for evaluating candidates for Regular membership were developed by the WDS Scientific Committee (WDS-SC) to ensure their trustworthiness in terms of authenticity, integrity, confidentiality, and availability of data and services. More recently, a Partnership Working Group between the Data Seal of Approval (DSA) and the ICSU World Data System (ICSU-WDS) have reconciled the two organization's core certification mechanisms for Trustworthy Data Repositories.

To be accredited as a WDS Regular Member, candidate organizations must fulfil membership requirements (see WDS Bylaws) and undergo a certification procedure against a Catalogue of Requirements, providing the basis for their evaluation, as well as for periodic assessment.

Accreditation Procedure

The below accreditation procedure applies only to WDS Regular Member applicants. The procedure for WDS Network Member applicants may be found here.

WDS accreditation is a five-stage process:

  1. Candidate organization completes an Expression of Interest for WDS Regular membership.
  2. Organization is certified using the Core Trustworthy Data Repositories Requirements managed jointly by WDS and DSA.
  3. Organization adheres to the WDS Bylaws and signs a Letter of Agreement (or a similar document) with the International Council for Science.
  4. WDS Regular membership is granted once evidence of the organization’s suitability is deemed satisfactory by the WDS-SC.
  5. The organization is recertified every three years and its membership renewed.

Certification Criteria

An offline copy of the current Catalogue of Requirements for WDS Regular membership maybe found here:

Certification is based on supplying evidence in response to the above evaluation criteria, and thus demonstrating the applicants' capabilities. This Catalogue of Requirements is also used for periodic assessment of a Regular Member, as well as for monitoring the overall performance of ICSU-WDS. External experts are typically engaged to review evidence supplied in an application, and all steps of the certification are administrated by the joint WDSDSA Standards and Certification Board on behalf of the WDS-SC, which provides oversight for the certification and functions as the accreditation authority.

The Core Trustworthy Data Repositories Requirements comprises sections covering context, organizational infrastructure, digital object management, and technology, with Requirements defined according to original WDS Catalogue of Criteria and DSA Guidelines and incorporating standards and best practices from other organizations and projects (OAIS, OCLC, NESTOR, WMO-IS, and CRL). An additional section then cover general requirements for WDS membership. The goal is to have objective controls against which candidate WDS Regular Members can be assessed, and a pragmatic approach is taken to balance proper functionalities against feasibility.

Evaluation is based mainly on non-standardized information supplied by applicants indicating their degree of trustworthiness and adequacy, and can be attributed to different levels of maturity. In addition, depending on the type and level of the service provided, specific criteria may be less relevant for certain organizations and the review process takes into account the context of the organization, its mission, priorities, and stated commitments.

WDS Monitoring

Because developments move fast and the remits of ICSU-WDS and DSA cover an increasingly wide range of data services, the above catalogue is expected to evolve with time, and will jointly reviewed by DSA and WDS on a biannual basis. In particular, the WDS-SC is responsible for designing and implementing mechanisms to monitor the overall performance of the World Data system, as well as the performance of its Member Organizations.

If you represent a data service wishing to be recognized as a Trustworthy Data Repository please apply for WDS Regular membership here.