UHasselt Metadata Repository for Research Data

What is the UHasselt Metadata Repository and how does it work?

The UHasselt Metadata Repository has been integrated into the Document Server, the database in which UHasselt authors currently already deposit their publications. Researchers affiliated with UHasselt are expected to also upload the metadata of the datasets underlying their peer-reviewed publications.

Metadata represent information about a dataset in a structured way: e.g. author(s), location, date, description, formats, access, license, etc. The datasets themselves reside in an external location (preferably a domain-specific data repository).

The process of adding metadata to the metadata repository is similar to that of adding publications. When a dataset is archived in a data repository, that dataset is usually assigned a persistent identifier (e.g. DOI). When the researcher enters that persistent identifier into the Document Server, almost all of the required metadata fields are automatically completed, significantly alleviating additional manual work. It is sufficient to check these fields and to complete any missing information. The step-by-step plan (with a knowledge clip) can be found here.

The RDM support team does a final check on the accuracy and completeness of the metadata before publishing them. They also set up processes to proactively pull in the metadata from datasets created and archived externally by UHasselt researchers whenever possible, in order to limit the administrative burden as much as possible.

What is the purpose of the Metadata Repository?

In the first place, the Metadata Repository serves as a tool to meet the BOF and IOF key obligations and to feed the KPI reporting from UHasselt to the Flemish Government, more specifically the KPIs FAIR data and Open data. These are imposed by the Flemish Open Science Board (FOSB) and are measured for all research projects sponsored by Flemish public funds. The Metadata Repository uses a metadata model that has been agreed upon for all Flemish research institutions, which means that information can be delivered in a uniform way to FRIS (Flemish Research Information Space). This information includes the persistent identifier, the access, the license, the formats, etc. On this basis, the evolution of the Flemish research institutions toward Open Science is visualized in FRIS.

Secondly, the Metadata Repository helps researchers to comply with the imposed FAIR principles of his/her funder. FAIR data are data that are Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable.

  • The data become findable because you can look them up via the UHasselt Metadata Repository and FRIS.
  • The data will be accessible because the metadata will state the access conditions. Accessible does not mean "available to the public", but "access is defined according to a certain procedure". The metadata can always be made publicly available, as they are purely descriptive and therefore do not contain sensitive data, unlike some datasets themselves.
  • The data become reusable, as the metadata specify a license that defines what others may and may not do with the dataset.

There are, third, benefits to you as a researcher. Just like the publications that are uploaded to the Document Server, the datasets described in the Metadata Repository will be displayed on your profile and the CV. You can thus get recognition for your data and create visibility for your research.

What guidance is provided at UHasselt?

The already existing manual of the Document Server has been revised and updated (with new knowledge clips) and also contains the necessary explanation about the submission process in the Metadata Repository.

For additional questions, concerns and/or personal guidance, researchers can contact the RDM support team at any time. And just as it is done for publications, the RDM team will perform thorough quality control on all entered records before they are effectively published.