The goal is to create a central one-stop-shop for search/discovery of the products and services available from within the CESSDA community. The Data Catalogue will be the main interaction point between researchers and CESSDA service providers, and needs to support diverse functionality and workflows to fulfil this role.

The CESSDA Data Catalogue will not hold any data itself, or itself provide direct access to data, instead it will automatically, frequently and periodically collect (harvest) metadata from Service Providers and other sources, using the metadata to power the its functionality. Fully automated harvesting is crucial to ensure that the CESSDA Data Catalogue content is updated, and that it points to valid and correct end-points on the Service Provider-level. For access to the data, the data catalogue will direct researchers to the source/service where the data may be obtained or analysed.

The project has run over multiple implementation phases over the last three years. The intention of phase 1 (in 2016) was to establish the requirements, which would be implemented throughout the subsequent phases (from 2017 onwards). Phase 2 saw an initial release of the data catalogue in the second half of 2017, defined a final product architecture and implemented the 'must have' requirements. The third phase (in 2018) added the 'should have' requirements, and addressed performance or usability issues that came to light during testing.

The ongoing Technical Framework project provides a backbone for the CESSDA Data Catalogue work and other important technical developments. It will help remove barriers to entry for all Service Providers, as it will enable them to get up to speed with the required approach for developing service components, without the need to install, configure and maintain a full suite of software development tools within their own infrastructure.