Article Type

EScience in Action

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Institutional data repositories are the acknowledged gold standard for data curation platforms in academic libraries. But not every institution can sustain a repository, and not every dataset can be archived due to legal, ethical, or authorial constraints. Data catalogs—metadata-only indices of research data that provide detailed access instructions and conditions for use—are one potential solution, and may be especially suitable for "challenging" datasets. This article presents the strengths of data catalogs for increasing the discoverability and accessibility of research data. The authors argue that data catalogs are a viable alternative or complement to data repositories, and provide examples from their institutions' experiences to show how their data catalogs address specific curatorial requirements. The article also reports on the development of a community of practice for data catalogs and data discovery initiatives.


data catalog, data governance, data discovery, metadata record, data curation


The authors would like to thank Ian Lamb for writing the software code for the original data catalog that was used by the Data Catalog Collaboration Project (DCCP) which became the DDC. The authors also thank Nicole Contaxis, whose leadership has enabled the DCCP to transition to the DDC.

Corresponding Author

Terrie R. Wheeler, Weill Cornell Medicine, 1300 York Avenue Box 67, New York, NY 10065, USA; tew2004@med.cornell.edu

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© 2021 Sheridan et al. This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike License.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License