Achieving FAIR Data: SOCIB Data Repository obtains the CoreTrustSeal Certification

  • The Balearic Islands Coastal Observing and Forecasting System (SOCIB) is recognized for its work in ocean best practices and open data for a sustainable ocean.
  • The CoreTrustSeal for Data Repositories demonstrates that the SOCIB Data Repository is taking appropriate measures to ensure sustainable and reliable data infrastructures, as part of the SOCIB institutional Open Science Policy.
  • In Spain, only CSIC and SOCIB have obtained this seal, guaranteeing the management of research data in line with FAIR Data Principles and Horizon Europe Open Science requirements.

As our dependence on both digital data and repositories grows, data quality and data reliability have become key, since there is an increasing need to trust how and where information is being managed and stored, as well as to provide access to and enabling the use of such resources, thus making ‘open science’ a reality. The replication and validation of research outcomes (scientific integrity and transparency) need to be ensured together with the re-use of data (efficiency and return on investment), through data sharing.

Achieving FAIR Data: SOCIB Data Repository obtains the CoreTrustSeal CertificationIn this digital environment, the internationally recognized FAIR Data Principles (Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable), describe how research outputs should be organised, so they can be more easily accessed, understood, exchanged, and reused. In addition they help us to define high quality and transparent data management practices. Certification mechanisms, such as the CoreTrustSeal for digital repositories, contribute to creating TRUST (Transparency, Responsibility, User focus, Sustainability, and Technology) in the research data infrastructure to ensure our data are accessible in the future.

In fact, sharing data as openly as possible is mandatory in Horizon Europe, the European Union's framework programme for investment in research and innovation for the period 2021-2027. The same applies in the case of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) mandate of open access (through DIGITAL.CSIC) which emphasizes the management of research data according to the FAIR Data Principles. At the international level, there is also a drive to build a global consensus on open science, implementing concrete measures that bring citizens closer to science, together with a commitment to the better distribution and production of science in the world. The UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development is an overarching framework that builds on existing capabilities and develops open data and open science to ensure a transparent and accessible ocean, including Ocean Literacy facilitation by democratizing access to data and knowledge.

In this context, SOCIB is already at the forefront of data management and is in line with the FAIR Data Principles and the Horizon Europe Open Science requirements, as part of the SOCIB institutional Open Science Policy. Now, after obtaining the CoreTrustSeal for Data Repositories, SOCIB will continue its efforts toward becoming a long-term marine data platform that delivers data management and technical expertise to enable free and open access to integrated, standardized, and harmonized marine data and data products for the Mediterranean Sea. This is in addition to providing essential marine knowledge to access the most comprehensive in-situ marine datasets.

Since its establishment in 2010, SOCIB has provided real-time open access to the data collected to all stakeholders: researchers, managers, marine and maritime end-users and professionals, and the general public; in line with a well-defined mission to deliver ocean observations for the benefit of science and society. SOCIB processes, verifies, distributes, and archives this data, guaranteeing compliance with international standards to ensure quality and interoperability in data management. The combination of different sources and types of information (time series, profiles, trajectories, grids/meshes, images, acoustic data, etc.) requires appropriate methods to collect, catalog, display and distribute this information. SOCIB therefore works to provide users with a system for easily displaying and downloading the data of interest, the SOCIB Data Repository. In addition, according to Joaquín Tintoré, director of the SOCIB, “being kept in archives enables ocean data to remain useful and meaningful for the future”.

CoreTrustSeal for SOCIB Data Repository

The journey towards CoreTrustSeal Certification began for the SOCIB Data Repository in August 2019 after being selected to participate in an Open Call in the FAIRsFAIR support programme for Data Repositories, along with other 10 repositories, by a FAIRsFAIR expert committee from a field of 80 respondents. The SOCIB repository was assessed in terms of its focus on long-term data preservation and reuse, as well as the feasibility of obtaining CoreTrustSeal certification.

During the intervening period, SOCIB has received ongoing support from the FAIRsFAIR project and their experience of integrating FAIR Data Principles and the requirements for certification. “It involved,” explains Miquel Àngel Rújula, a high-level technician at the SOCIB Data Center and responsible for the final part of the implementation at SOCIB, “a two-year period of intense work by many people to accomplish the 17 Core Trustworthy Data Repositories Requirements, including: Context (R0), Mission/Scope (R1), Licenses (R2), Continuity of access (R3), Confidentiality/Ethics (R4), Organizational infrastructure (R5), Expert guidance (R6), Data integrity and authenticity (R7), Appraisal (R8), Documented storage procedures (R9), Preservation plan (R10), Data quality (R11), Workflows (R12), Data discovery and identification (R13), Data reuse (R14), Technical infrastructure (R15), and Security (R16)”.

“In achieving the CoreTrustSeal requirements, most of our data management internal processes were updated and improved. The data repository itself was also developed from an implicit component of the SOCIB Multiplatform Observing System, into an explicit and reliable service offered to the marine ocean community,” highlights Juan Gabriel Fernández, head of the SOCIB Data Centre.

There are currently 179 repositories worldwide, 103 of which are in Europe. In Spain, only the CSIC, through its DIGITAL.CSIC repository, and SOCIB have this seal. In terms of ocean data repositories, several important institutions in the field of oceanography and marine sciences have this certification, such as IFREMER-SISMER, in France, Permanent Service for Mean Sea Level (NOC), in the United Kingdom, and World Data Service for Oceanography (NOAA) and Ocean Biology Data Active Archive Center (NASA), in the United States.


Fernández, J. G., Rotllán, P., Charcos, M., Frontera, B., Notario, X., Ruiz, I., Rújula, M. À., Gomila, M., Gómara, S., & Tintoré, J. (2021, April 12-14). How certification process is helping SOCIB to improve Data Quality Management. [Poster presentation]. IMDIS 2021 International Conference on Marine Data and Information Systems, Online.