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Data and Services

Accreditation of WDS Network Members


WDS Network Members are umbrella organizations representing groups of data repositories and/or data services, some may or may not be WDS Regular Members. They usually serve as coordinating agents for nodes that have common characteristics and mostly common disciplines.

As part of the process of developing ICSU-WDS, certification criteria and a transparent and objective procedure for evaluating candidates for Network 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.

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

Accreditation Procedure

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

WDS accreditation is a five-stage process:

  1. Candidate organization completes an Expression of Interest for WDS Network membership.
  2. Organization is certified using the Catalogue of Criteria for WDS Network Members.
  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 Network 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 Criteria for WDS Network 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 Criteria is also used for periodic assessment of a Network Member, as well as for monitoring the overall performance of ICSU-WDS. Although external experts are typically engaged to review evidence supplied in an application, all steps of the certification are overseen by the WDS-SC, which functions as the accreditation authority.

The Catalogue of Criteria for Network Members comprises sections covering roles and scope, general policies, organizational framework, and network framework. These criteria have been defined incorporating existing standards and best practices from other organizations and projects (OAIS, OCLC, NESTOR, WMO-IS, and CRL), whilst taking a pragmatic approach balancing proper functionalities against feasibility. The goal is to have objective controls against which candidate WDS Network Members can be assessed. Evaluation is mainly based on non-standardized information supplied by applicants indicating their degree of trustworthiness and adequacy, and can be attributed to different levels of maturity. The decision about what is a valid concept, or which service can be seen as fully operational, is the responsibility of the WDS-SC with input from other experts.

Because developments move fast and the remit of ICSU-WDS covers a wide range of data services, the above catalogue may evolve with time. In addition, depending on the type and level of the service provided, specific criteria may be less relevant for certain organizations and this is accounted for in the review process. In this regard, ICSU-WDS is structured as a federated system integrating various data services with different scope, and interested parties can be certified for one or multiple roles, taking into account the context of the organization, its mission, priorities, and stated commitments.

WDS Monitoring

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 network organization wishing to be recognized as a Trustworthy Data Network please apply for WDS Network membership here.