Building TRUST to be FAIR: data stewardship for a sustainable ocean economy
As part of ONC's ongoing commitment to leading the way in data stewardship, we recently endorsed a new set of best practices for digital data repositories.
February 5, 2021

Our society’s dependence on digital data is growing exponentially, along with our need to trust how and where that information is being managed and preserved. While consensus on ‘good’ data management and stewardship is beginning to develop and evolve, it demands constant diligence and on-going practice to keep up with the 24/7 demands of big data.

At this critical time, Canada is developing national infrastructure and services and best practices for research data management. These initiatives include open access to data, achieving FAIR (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable) data and the launch of the CoreTrustSeal certification process for data repositories—places where large amounts of data are stored. Ocean Networks Canada’s (ONC) Oceans 2.0 is one such repository, managing and archiving a daily firehose of 280 gigabytes of free, open, continuous, real-time ocean data from over 9000 sensors on all three coasts (Figure 1).

Figure 1. ONC brings data to the surface for science, society and industry.

As part of our ongoing commitment to leading the way in data stewardship, ONC recently endorsed a new set of best practices for digital data repositories. Developed by Research Data Alliance members from around the globe—including ONC’s Data Stewardship Manager Reyna Jenkyns—these TRUST Principles (Transparency, Responsibility, User focus, Sustainability and Technology) provide a common framework to facilitate discussion and implementation of best practices for digital repositories by all stakeholders (Figure 2).

Figure 2. The TRUST Principles developed by Research Data Alliance.

The TRUST Principles concept was initiated among Research Data Alliance members, leading to the 2020 publication of “The TRUST Principles for digital repositories” in Scientific Data, a Nature Journal.

“FAIR principles are for datasets and the TRUST Principles are for data repositories,” comments Reyna Jenkyns. “To make data FAIR whilst preserving them over time requires trustworthy digital repositories with sustainable governance and organizational frameworks, reliable infrastructure and comprehensive policies supporting community-agreed practices. Our goal is to build TRUST to be FAIR.”

Reyna is an active member of the Portage Network, a large national initiative launched in 2015 to build capacity in the shared stewardship of research data and develop services and infrastructure to ensure academic researchers in Canada have access to the support they need for research data management. In February 2021, the Portage Network is launching a CoreTrustSeal cohort programme to further demonstrate Canada's commitment to these concepts.

Other Canadian research data management initiatives include the development of the Federated Research Data Repository and the launch of Dataverse Canada, where ONC recently published a six-year dataset, “Six years (2009-2015) of oceanographic temperature, salinity, pressure, density and dissolved oxygen observations from a Vancouver Island shelf cabled observatory.”

These data management principles align with urgent sustainable ocean management goals, as outlined by the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development and the international Ocean Panel’s “Transformations for a Sustainable Economy” (Figure 3), launched in December 2020. The Ocean Panel’s global call to action includes the need “to revolutionize how ocean data are collected, stored and used for better ocean management, business development and job creation.”

Figure 3. In December 2020, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined the heads of government of the 13 other nations of the new UN Oceans Panel and endorsed a strategy for the global development of the “Blue Economy".

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