Happy Birthday DataCite!

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An interview with Britta Dreyer on ten years of DataCite: a success story around the Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

The foundation of the association DataCite celebrated it’s 10th anniversary in the beginning of December 2019, a reason to look back and peak into the future. In the interview Britta Dreyer, head of the department PID and Metadata Services at TIB – Leibniz Information Centre for Science and Technilogy and DataCite Business Manager, talks about what has been achieved, the challenges of the future and the cooperation with DataCite partners

Ten years of DataCite, that is a great success. But actually the history of DataCite started a little bit before. Namely in 2004 with the first registration of a Digital Object Identifier (DOI), a unique and persistent digital identifier, at TIB. Tell us how it all began.

Britta Dreyer // Photo: TIB/C. Bierwagen

Scientific research generates a gigantic and constantly growing amount of digital research data. These data sets are of immense importance for science. On the one hand, they increase the transparency and traceability of research results. On the other hand, the rapid technological developments provide the opportunity to use the research data for further research projects.

These reasons were decisive in the TIB’s decision to become the world’s first DOI registration agency for research data in 2005. It emerged from the project “Publikation und Zitierbarkeit von Primärdaten” (Publication and citeability of primary data) – STD-DOI for short – funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). The aim was and still is to make research data globally findable, accessible and citable by means of DOI names. As a member of the Research Data Alliance Initiative (RDA), DataCite develops methods, measures and standards together with the international scientific community to make research data searchable, accessible, interoperable and reusable.

DOIs enable the unique identification of scientific objects and through the linked and updatable metadata and URLs they guarantee access and citation. Today DataCite DOIs are registered for a wide range of object types such as research data, software, videos, models and grey literature.

So the idea of a DOI was born. What was the next step?

Research is global. Therefore, after the successful completion of the STD-DOI project on 1 December 2009, the international association DataCite was founded. The seven founding members and the other members of the first years were institutions that provided DOI services as part of their national mission. The members built up the technical infrastructure, developed the metadata schema for effective and simple data entry and processing and laid down the guidelines for DOI registration.

The funding for the EU project THOR (Technical and Human Infrastructure for Open Research) in 2015 brought about major changes for DataCite: Due to the additional resources and the great commitment of the DataCite team, a positive growth process began. Currently DataCite DOIs are being registered in 40 countries.

Ten years later is a good time to take stock. What difficulties were there, what solutions were found and what are the greatest successes of DataCite?

The financing of DataCite has always been an important issue: In 2014 DataCite received the first funding for the EU project series ODIN, THOR and the current project FREYA. In this ongoing work DOI services are taking part in the developments of the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) and thus in the German National Research Data Infrastructure (NFDI). Further funded projects and building blocks complete the success of DataCite. In January 2020, the two DFG projects re3data COREF and ORCID DE 2 will be launched, building on existing developments such as the repository registry re3data and the implementation of ORCID (Open Researcher Contributor Identification Initiative) in Germany.

The biggest challenge for the association is to find reliable and sustainable financing. With a new membership model DataCite is currently on the right track to sustainable financing.

After a review of the past ten years, a look into the future should not be missing. What will happen with DataCite in the coming years? Which challenges will the partners have to face and which tasks have to be tackled?

DataCite’s focus continues to be on the international activities to make research data FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable). Of particular importance are the metadata quality and the extension of object types (DOIs for conferences, software as well as instruments) and the integration with other PID types (PID = Persistent Identifier) such as ORCID or ROR (Research Organization Registry) in order to jointly make new developments such as the PID graph possible. This enables a model-like description of different PIDs and their connections, such as data sets cited by various journal articles.

In addition, in the future we will expand the offer of standardized metrics (citation and usage statistics) to research data, so that we can show how research data is reused.

Many thanks for the interview!

Data are „first class“ research output

Ten years of DataCite: Comments of founding members, companions and partners


The importance of DataCite can hardly be overestimated. Research data is playing an increasingly important role and with DataCite they are not only identifiable but also citable and thus the effort for the creation and preparation of research data by scientists can be adequately rewarded. DataCite will play a central role, especially in the initiatives to establish a national research data infrastructure, but also in the semantic networking of research contributions with our Open Research Knowledge Graph.Prof. Dr. Sören Auer, Director TIB
Prof. Dr. Sören Auer // Photo: TIB/C. Bierwagen

Matt Buys // Photo: private
In the world today, we are faced with the increasingly complex challenge of keeping information organized and accessible to others. In our context, we define these information assets as digital objects and assign unique identifiers to ensure that these can be shared, cited and discovered by others. This is not without challenges and our biggest asset as an open infrastructure is our community. Together as a DataCite community we collaborate to build a shared infrastructure that delivers high quality services for the broader community and one that is sustainable for the long-term. DataCite has reached this significant milestone and as we embark on the next 10 years it is important to align with our core principles. I am excited to see what the future holds and look forward to continue working with our community as we grow from strength to strength.Matt Buys, Executive Director – DataCite

It’s been exciting to work with DataCite over the last 10 years! In this time you’ve moved a significant part of the research community to make data a „first class“ research output, and contributed significantly to reproducible research. From the British Library we wish you continued success, and I’m especially excited to see how we can work together to encourage even more UK organisations to make their research citable over the next decade.Rachael Kotarski, Head of Research Infrastructure Services – British Library
Rachael Kotarski // Photo: private

Uwe Schindler // Photo: private
It has been a pleasure to work with DataCite for the past ten years. As one of the first data centers to add DOIs to data sets – even before DataCite was founded – we are looking forward to seeing the development. Today, all scientists are talking about making climate change data openly accessible. A growing number of them are handing their data sets over to repositories like PANGAEA, which then give them a DOI name and publish them. DataCite added other great features to the DOI registration service that make working with data even easier and FAIR. We look forward to the next decade of data (re)use!Uwe Schindler, Architect and Development of PANGAEA – Data Publisher for Earth & Environmental Science

It is fascinating how a global network has developed over the past 15 years from a small idea – namely making research data in the earth and environmental sciences quotable and referenceable. Our vision at that time, to support researchers by providing sustainable and permanent methods for the localization, identification and citation of data sets, has become reality with DataCite: Today we can look back on 17.1 million issued DOIs. And in the future, DOIs will become even more important for research data, because every year more data is created that can be cited and reused in science and research thanks to DOIs.Dr. Irina Sens, Deputy Director and Head of Library Operations at the TIB
Dr. Irina Sens // Photo: TIB/C. Bierwagen

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