Conference paper Open Access
Thornton, Lauren; Neumann, Victoria; Blair, Gordon; Davies, Nigel; Watkins, John
Research data centres (RDCs) in environmental science are currently facing challenges due to a number of factors. These include increased volume and heterogeneity of incoming data, transdisciplinary research, and a growing diversity of data consumers from academics through to private industry actors and governmental bodies. Many of these challenges relate to perceived trust in the data provided by the RDCs and in the data centres themselves. In this paper we explore these challenges and identify five distinct themes or ‘mechanisms’ (standardistation, supplementary information, interactivity, provenance and traceability, and the management of stakeholder interests). Using the lens of trust to situate these challenges in RDC practice, we discuss how these challenges and mechanisms relate to the emergence of new technologies such as blockchain. We report that there are many benefits that blockchain technology can have in RDC brokerage and data management, and in fostering trust in data centres by data producers and consumers. However we also note that this technology can also have unintended consequences, impacting upon the trust held by stakeholders. We conclude that trust is an appropriate construct for combating the challenges that RDCs face, but that in order to effectively design and implement these mechanisms, care should be taken with the underlying and often implicit intricacies. We recommend that these intricacies should be mapped out and planned before implementing technology, and that future work will upon this.