Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives





CESSDA Expert Seminar 2015 paves the way to a new working group

The CESSDA Expert Seminar 2015 was held in the offices of DANS in The Hague from 30 November to 1 December 2015.

The topic of the seminar was trust within CESSDA. The intention was to create awareness and knowledge of trust issues generally and, more in particular, to exchange and develop ideas on how to solve some of the issues in the field of trustworthy digital repositories for the social sciences. This raised questions on how to put into effect the obligations of the Service Providers in the “Annex 2 to the CESSDA statutes” and what tasks a CESSDA Trust Working Group should perform.

Trust in digital repositories has been an important topic for CESSDA for some time. As CESSDA Service Providers all maintain trustworthy digital repositories in one way or another, they should not only have trust in each other, but also present themselves as trustworthy to their external partners. These include researchers, funders, national statistical offices and government agencies.

In 2014, it was decided that it would be mandatory for all CESSDA Service Providers to achieve DSA-compliancy. DSA stands for Data Seal of Approval, the basic form of certification forTrusted Digital Repositories.

A number of CESSDA repositories have already effectively achieved this status and others are working towards it. During the seminar, common challenges experienced in reaching the DSA-compliancy were discussed. A clear outcome from the discussions was that it would be helpful to offer mutual guidance on the matter. A possible CESSDA Trust Working Group in which all Service Providers are represented was deemed to be helpful. This group could then be supported by an expert group, which would give advice and review certification assessments. Subsequently, in December 2015, four CESSDA Working Groups were adopted, one of which focuses on trust issues, the CESSDA Trust Support Group.

An issue that needs further discussion and exploration is how the obligations in the Annex to the CESSDA Statutes can be fully accomplished by its Service Providers. These obligations are covered for an important part by the DSA certification guidelines. A small number, however, are not, and how these points should be worked out in a harmonised way for CESSDA was the subject of debate during the seminar.

The seminar was attended by fourteen representatives from different CESSDA Service Providers all over Europe. As both senior and junior staff members were present, experiences and insights were shared among all. All in all it was a very useful meeting for the further development of trust within CESSDA. The work will also be continued in the CESSDA SaW project.

The presentations are available here.

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