In the Guidelines on FAIR Data Management in Horizon 2020, the European Commission states: “Where will the data and associated metadata, documentation and code be deposited? Preference should be given to certified repositories which support open access where possible."
Researchers, information managers and other stakeholders can rely on a framework of various international certification standards for digital repositories in order to assess and improve the quality of their work processes and management systems. “Trustworthy Digital Repository” (TDR) is a term often used in this respect.
In the European Framework for audit and certification of digital repositories three certification instruments, with increasing degrees of complexity and depth, are available:
- CoreTrustSeal (CTS): this is based on Data Seal of Approval (DSA) and World Data System (WDS) van ICSU. All digital repositories that have one or more of these certifications are listed at https://www.coretrustseal.org/why-certification/certified-repositories/
- Nestor Seal: verification according to DIN 31644
- ISO 16363 certification
The assessments vary in intensity from a peer review of completed documentation (self-assessment) to a prepared on-site visit by an external audit team. These instruments are used worldwide. Data sponsors, producers and re-users may trust any managing body that has been certified according to one of the above standards.
There are also data repositories with a long standing and solid user base, like Zenodo, that have no certification; you’ll find other examples in OpenDOAR, the directory of Open Access repositories. It is expected that these repositories will apply for certification in the near future, because the organisation of research funding and research performing organisations in Europe (Science Europe) is developing criteria for the selection of trustworthy repositories. These criteria will contain a recommendation that repositories that are not certified yet seek certification by such a body. We encourage you to support this in your conversation with repositories, simply by alerting them to this development. For the time being, there don’t seem to be consequences for repositories that don’t have a certification or for using such repositories.
Read the “Background” section below (What are these repository certifications based on?) when you want to know how the requirements for certification support the FAIR data principles.