Building a Dataset Catalogue

Recipe metadata

identifier: RX.X

version: v0.1

Difficulty level

Reading Time

60 minutes (upon recipe completion)

Recipe Type


Executable Code


Intended Audience

Data Managers

Data Scientists

Software Developers

System Administrators

Main Objectives

The main purpose of this recipe is:

To detail the key elements for the creation of a data catalogue to enable data findability in an organisation.

We will cover the following points:

  1. metadata model selection
  2. annotation with controled vocabularies
  3. ETL
  4. data loading
  5. data indexing
  6. facet oriented searching
  7. minting of stable, persistent and resolvable identifiers

Table of Contents

  1. Main FAIRification Objectives
  2. Graphical Overview of the FAIRification Recipe Objectives
  3. FAIRification Objectives, Inputs and Outputs
  4. Capability & Maturity Table
  5. Table of Data Standards
  6. Executable Code in Notebook
  7. How to create workflow figures
  8. License

Graphical Overview of the FAIRification Recipe Objectives

graph TD subgraph b AA(Populate Data Catalogue):::box AA --> |identify
sources| E(Data Source #1):::box AA --> |identify
sources| F(Data Source #n):::box E -->|ETL-1|B1(instance file):::box F -->|ETL-2|B2(instance file):::box B1 -->|data persistence| DL(document oriented database) B2 -->|data persistence| DL:::box DL[Build Search Function] --> |build search index|SE(Search Engine):::box SE -->|ontology tree search| SSS(Query Expansion):::box SE -->|synonym space search| SSS(Query Expansion) end subgraph a A(Building Data Catalogue):::box style a fill:#e8eaeb,font-family:avenir style b fill:#e8eaeb A-->|define curation policies| A3(Curation
Policies):::box A3-->|select data model| B(DATS):::box B-->|select controled
vocabularies| CV1(key facet #1:
CV1):::box B-->|select controled
vocabularies| CV2(key facet #2:
CV2):::box B-->|select controled
vocabularies| CV3(key facet #n:
CVn):::box linkStyle 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12,13 stroke:#2a9fc9,stroke-width:1px,color:#2a9fc9,font-family:avenir; classDef box font-family:avenir,font-size:14px,fill:#2a9fc9,stroke:#222,color:#fff,stroke-width:1px end

Capability & Maturity Table

Capability Initial Maturity Level Final Maturity Level
Findability minimal repeatable
Interoperability minimal repeatable

User Story

For role.Data Scientists, it is essential to be able to action.identify and datasets of potential relevance in the context of integration and action.meta-analytical work.

For role.Database Managers, a lightweight solution is needed to support a shallow indexing supported fast ingest without intense curation, but good potential for data discovery. Works should rely on approved data standards.

For role.lab scientists, the key is to have a minimal burden when having to action.deposit a dataset to an institutional archive or simply action.register to dataset to the data catalogue.

Main body of the recipe

What is a Data Catalogue?

A Data Catalogue is a resource meant to allow fast identification of Data set. In keeping with the familiar notion of catalogue, (be it that of an exhibition or that of brand products), the notion of data catalogue needs to be understood as the compendium of short descriptive metadata elements about an actual set of data. The Data Index or Data Catalogue does not store the datasets themselves but provides information about where the datasets can be obtained from. Therefore, Data Catalogues are often used to index the content of 'Data Repositories and Data Archives, which provide hosting solutions for the actual datasets, which are often organized (but not always)' around specific data types or data production modalities (e.g. NMR Imaging, Confocal microscopy imaging, Nucleic Acid sequence archives and so on.)

What are the standards supporting establishing a data catalogue?

Data Catalogues have been identified as critical infrastructure and therefore a number of model exist to support their implementation.

  1. DATS: The Data Article Tag Suite model has been developed during the NIH-BD2K projects and underpins the datamed catalogue, the aim of which was to produce a prototype of a Pubmed for Datasets.

  2. DCAT: In the world of semantic web technologies, The W3C DCAT specifications (v1 and the newly released version 2) provide a vocabulary to express data catalogue metadata in RDF.

  3. The vocabulary developed by the consortium of search engines has defined a metadata profile for Dataset, Data Catalogue

How are Data Catalogue populated?

A number data Indexes/Data Catalogue are populated by harvest Dataset metadata from primary Data Repositories or harvesting JSON-LD files served by these same pages for rapid, shallow indexing. The former method is often richer but requires more

What are examples of Data Catalogues?

FAIRification Objectives, Inputs and Outputs

Actions.Objectives.Tasks Input Output

Table of Data Standards

Data Formats Terminologies Models

Executable Code in Notebook


import dats
import json
import pandas as pd 



Name Affiliation orcid CrediT role
Philippe Rocca-Serra University of Oxford, Data Readiness Group 0000-0001-9853-5668 Writing - Original Draft


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