This article is taken from the EOSC-Pillar Second Annual Report, you can download the full report here.
By Leonardo Candela, CNR & Luciano Gaido, INFN
The main activities concerning national catalogues and onboarding are:
To shape the EOSC-Pillar activities about resource catalogues and the support EOSC-Pillar was going to provide, the two main drivers were the characteristics as well as the onboarding procedures of the existing EOSC catalogue and the demand for national catalogues in the five countries participating to the project.
Understanding the EOSC catalogue and its onboarding procedures was quite easy because some EOSC-Pillar partners are directly involved in the projects developing and operating it (namely EOSC-Enhance and EOSC-hub). In addition to this, the activities of the Service Onboarding Task Force, set up among the regional projects (funded in the INFRAEOSC-05 call), were structured in a way to constantly involve representatives of the two above-mentioned projects.
Concerning the other driver, information about existing or planned national catalogues was completely missing. For this reason, a survey was conducted to collect this information at the beginning of Y2.
The information collected showed that things are quite different in the EOSC-Pillar countries. However, it has been highlighted that many national user communities, usually participating in international collaborations and initiatives, have (or plan having) a reference thematic catalogue.
The main outcome of the survey is that in all countries the importance of a national catalogue is recognized but there is no consensus on what a catalogue should provide. In some countries some national catalogues already exist (such as CatOpidor in France, the Ministry’s RIs catalogue in Austria or the Open Science catalogue in Belgium) but they have a different purpose and implementation compared to the EOSC Catalogue. Germany and Italy foresee the need for a national service catalogue but its features, scope and goal, as well as the initiative in charge of operating it has still to be defined.
Independently of the specific plans that resulted from the survey, EOSC-Pillar envisaged a key role for both national and thematic catalogues in the overall EOSC onboarding process. Such catalogues are closer to their designated community than the overall EOSC catalogue and have more possibilities to be fully uptaken and developed by the community itself because the process is driven by the target community. Building upon this understanding the project developed a prototype of a national service registry conceived to be interoperable with the EOSC Catalogue and instantiated it by a proof of concept for the italian community.
The model underlying this catalogue is innovative. In fact, the catalogue is provided by a web-based working environment promoting a collaborative development of the catalogue itself. The web-based environment offers a networking area where users get informed whenever a new service is onboarded and can easily exchange ideas, requirements and experiences about the onboarded services with the providers as well as with the overall community.
The catalogue was designed to be customizable with respect to the items that can be published by it and the metadata characterising them, e.g. it is possible to configure it to make it possible to register many typologies of services or resources and include in their profiles any information the community is willing to collect. In order to favour the interoperability with the overall EOSC catalogue, it was decided to configure it to support the publishing of Resource Providers and Resources characterised by metadata conforming to the profiles promoted by the EOSC Catalogue. Thanks to this decision the exchange of information between the two catalogues will be simplified (no mapping or transformation is needed).
The overall management of the catalogue (and the accompanying working environment) is in the control of the designated community. In fact, it is up to the community at large to define the objective and scope of the specific catalogue, the policies governing its development and to put in place the actions needed to achieve all of this by simply using the deployed service (e.g. document the decisions by a Wiki, manage membership and roles, approve or reject or update provider and resource information).
The EOSC Portal Catalogue & Marketplace has been in operation since a couple of years now and its onboarding procedures, although still evolving to address the evolution of the rules of participation and inclusion criteria and the improvement to the catalogue itself, are well defined and consolidated.
In order to support the national or thematic initiatives willing to operate a national/regional or thematic catalogue which has to be made interoperable with the EOSC catalogue, a document with specific guidelines has been prepared and its first draft has been delivered in June 2021.
It is intended to provide general and practical help to set up the technical and operational procedures which obviously should be adapted to the specific context of the national/thematic catalogue.