Because good research needs good data

Scoping approaches to a UK research data registry

DCC continues infrastructure development for research data visibility with a six-month pilot to test possible approaches to a UK-wide registry or catalogue of research data held in UK research institutions and established subject-focused data centres. ...

Laura Molloy | 25 October 2013

Significant steps have been taken in the last few years to make the case for improved management and availability of research data. In the UK, universities are making progress in supporting data re-use, moving research data management services from ambition to implementation. Support from Jisc, through the DCC and the Managing Research Data programme, has been recognised as a significant factor by the Royal Society amongst others.

The promulgation of expectations by research funders and publishers has also aided this change and helped researchers and institutions to understand the benefits of improved research data management and data sharing.  Implementation of the necessary infrastructure is seeding and shared data collections are growing.

But for research to demonstrably benefit from these improvements, datasets - or at least their existence - must be visible and accessible.  Researchers and their institutions will benefit from knowing whether and where research data exists, and how to access it. The DCC has been working with others to plan national and international infrastructure to help realise this goal. Our next step is a six-month pilot to test possible approaches to a UK-wide registry or catalogue of research data held in UK HEIs and established subject-focused data centres, realising aims set out in the 2010 findings of the RLUK / RUGIT / Jisc UKRDS initiative.

In our initial six-month phase, the DCC pilot will test approaches for a service which will aggregate metadata relating to data collections or datasets held in UK research institutions and subject data centres. Neither the pilot nor any further service will act as a repository for the datasets themselves. Rather, our work will ultimately aim to provide a coherent point of access to discoverable, searchable, browsable and actionable descriptions of given datasets and how to access them, and so showcase the wealth of UK research data. 

The pilot is being delivered by the DCC and the UK Data Archive, working with other RCUK data centres and a small group of universities with working data repositories. The team members involved are Alex Ball, Patrick McCann and Laura Molloy of the DCC, and Veerle Van Den Eynden of the UK Data Archive. We'll be posting updates on our progress here on the DCC blog, tagged 'research data registry'.

If you're interested in hearing more about any aspect of this work, or would like to be involved, please visit /projects/research-data-registry-pilot or drop us a line at More updates soon!