General Research at Risk Research Data Discovery Service

UK Research Data Discovery Service – Alpha Site

The Jisc UK Research Data Discovery Service project is currently developing a discovery service that enables the discovery of UK research data (ensuring research data can be better used and the mechanisms to share it will be more efficient). If this meets university and researcher requirements the prototype (we hope!) could be taken forward as a Jisc service.

The early phase of this project focussed on gathering use cases and requirements from our participating pilot universities and data centres. The use cases and requirements have been discussed and refined by the participants, mostly through participation in the Advisory Groups that support the project. The three groups (Technical & Metadata, User, and Researcher) meet online monthly to discuss the project’s progress and include the pilots and other interested parties. Having a clear set of prioritised requirements has helped ensure that we can develop a Discovery Service that meets the needs of our users.

Recent work has focussed on technical development and implementing some of the “Must have” requirements within CKAN, which is the selected technical solution for building the Discovery Service. The main task has been harvesting metadata from the pilots using their available endpoints. Once this was completed it meant there was data in the service allowing the search functionality to be added. I should stress that both of these areas are still being worked on and there is other functionality to add. However, I am pleased to say that this work has progressed well and that the alpha version of the service is online at

Please note: This is not a launch but showing what has been developed so far. Before using please be aware of the following:

  • This is an *alpha* version so it is far from a finished product. Consider everything as “under development”;
  • We welcome feedback and there’s a feedback link on the top right. The team’s priority is to test functionality against the set of requirements from our pilots who will be testing the system. All feedback is welcomed and will be added to our tracking system. At the moment the feedback link will allow you to email your feedback, but in the future we’ll include a feedback form;
  • The metadata shown has been harvested from existing endpoints as is. A core set of metadata for the service is in the process of being defined so the metadata you see will change;
  • The Advanced Search is under development. Eventually it will allow all core metadata fields to be searched;
  • The look and feel of the system complies with Jisc requirements for an alpha version but this will change as it moves to a beta version;
  • Only metadata from the participating pilots is shown and the pilots are at different stages with their metadata collection;.

This month there will be a face-to-face workshop (18 Feb) where we will test the alpha system ensuring the functionality meets the requirements, clarify the remaining requirements, finalise the core metadata schema and the scope of datasets.

For further information on the progress of the Discovery Service please see the project’s blog.

By Christopher Brown

Product Manager (Research) at Jisc.