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DDI Alliance and CODATA collaboration at Schloss Dagstuhl

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Workshops held at Schloss Dagstuhl – Leibniz Center for Informatics have been an important activity for the DDI Alliance and many of its partner and member organizations over the years. Since 2018, CODATA has collaborated closely on a series of workshops looking at cross-domain interoperability based on DDI and other metadata standards. 

Since 2007, members of the DDI community have organized twenty-eight workshops on different topics related to DDI and metadata, with a total of 548 participants over that time (see detailed list of workshops). These workshops have made a critical contribution to the DDI Alliance’s work program including the development of new versions of the specification, training activities, and coordination with relevant standards bodies. 

More recently, the workshops have explored issues that are fundamental to the objectives and methodology of the CODATA Decadal Programme ‘Making Data Work for Global Grand Challenges’. This includes identifying ways of improving the interoperability of metadata standards and testing solutions against real-world case studies. DDI standards have played a significant role in this work and the development of DDI Cross Domain Integration (DDI-CDI) represents an important step forward.

Always, in keeping with the mission of Schloss Dagstuhl, these events have focused on the forward-looking aspects of DDI specifications from a computer science perspective, whether they addressed development, support, implementation, or inter-standards collaboration. Dagstuhl is a unique facility, providing an immersive environment that enables intensive and productive work. This has helped create a network of DDI users and metadata experts which is the excellent basis of further cooperation and exchange beyond the workshops in Dagstuhl. Furthermore, workshops have historically resulted from a partnership between several organizations, with GESIS – Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences, the DDI Alliance, and CODATA being the most important of these. All have provided not only their expertise to the workshops, but financial resources as well, to facilitate travel and similar expenses for participants. 

The current focus is on the relationship between DDI specifications and the emerging set of FAIR-enabling standards and specifications. At the heart of the European Commission-funded WorldFAIR project are eleven domain and cross-domain case studies: these will form an important part of the workshop activity in the near-term and are test cases for the emerging cross-domain interoperability framework. While DDI-CDI is the most obvious point of connection, DDI Lifecycle and DDI Codebook also fit into this picture as exemplary domain standards. Other DDI Alliance specifications such as XKOS (Extended Knowledge Organization System) and SDTL (Structured Data Transformation Language) are also relevant.

Due to COVID, many Dagstuhl seminars have been postponed, and this year the DDI-CODATA team has only been able to confirm a single week (August 28-September 2) because of scheduling requirements at Schloss Dagstuhl. We will return to having two workshops from 2023, and dates have been approved for the weeks September 24-29 and October 1-6. The working titles are ‘Defining a core metadata framework for cross-domain data sharing and reuse’ and ‘DDI-CDI: Realising interoperable data services in the metadata ecosystem’ respectively. 

The preliminary description of the 2022 workshop on ‘Interoperability for Cross-Domain Research: Machine-Actionability & Scalability’ is currently being used to recruit experts for the workshop.                                                          

We look forward to continuing what has been a fruitful collaboration, and will provide information regarding our planning activities in reports like this one moving forward. Schloss Dagstuhl has always provided a unique and highly effective venue for us to focus on forward-looking topics related to the DDI specifications, and we hope that this tradition will continue into the future.

The Dagstuhl Organizing Team:

  • Arofan Gregory, CODATA and DDI.
  • Hilde Orten, DDI and SIKT.
  • Joachim Wackerow.
  • Simon Cox, CODATA and CSIRO.
  • Simon Hodson, CODATA and DDI.
  • Steve McEachern, CODATA and DDI and ANU.