University of California Curation Center (UC3) is happy to announce that its Merritt repository and companion Dash data publishing platform have received CoreTrustSeal certification. This certification helps to instill transparency and accountability to our stakeholder communities, as it provides public evidence of our adherence to community-accepted norms for the preservation and and accessibility of managed digital content.  Through this certification Merritt and Dash are joining a select group of 137 international repositories meeting established standards for demonstrating necessary technical, operational, and organizational trustworthiness.  What this certification means for our institutional users of Merritt – librarians, archivists, curators – and individual scholars and researchers using Dash is that their digital content is being stewarded and preserved for long-term access and reuse in an appropriate and effective manner.

The CTS certification process began with a critical self-audit by UC3 staff addressing issues in 16 key areas, organized into three high-level topical categories: Organizational Infrastructure (mission/scope, licensing, business continuity, ethical norms, business structure, and expertise and consultation); Digital Object Management (data integrity and authenticity, appraisal, storage, preservation planning, quality assurance, documented workflows, identification and discovery, and facilitating reuse); and Technology (infrastructure and security).  The UC3 submission was then reviewed by independent external experts who provided valuable comments and feedback, asking only for minor clarification of several points. Our revised submission was given final approval on August 7, 2018.

While certification does not entail any change in established behavior or workflow by Merritt and Dash users, it is indicative of a higher level of curatorial and preservation service and assurance provided by those systems and the UC3 team.  The achievement of certification is a reflection of UC3’s and CDL’s ongoing commitment to support innovative and sustainable open scholarship. It is also an important step in meeting the UC Libraries’ complementary strategic goals of maximizing discovery of and ensuring long-term access to the University’s valuable and often unique digital content.

The CoreTrustSeal (CTS) certification instrument and organization represents the consolidation of two prior independent certification groups: the Data Seal of Approval (DSA) and the ICSU World Data System (WDS).  CTS is also a component of the European Framework for Audit and Certification of Digital Repositories, a collaboration between CTS, the Consultative Committee on Space Data Systems (CCSDS), developer of the influential ISO 14721 Open Archival Information System (OAIS) reference model and its companion ISO 16363 Audit and Certification of Trusted Digital Repositories (TDR) standard, and DIN (Deutsches Institut für Normung), the German national standards organization.