Published April 20, 2021 | Version 1.0
Poster Open

Data dictionary cookbook for research data and software interoperability at global scale

  • 1. ERINHA AISBL (European Research Infrastructure on Highly Pathogenic Agents)
  • 2. OMMAG
  • 3. IUEM-Université de Bretagne Occidentale
  • 4. University of São Paulo
  • 5. Word Data System
  • 6. ORCID
  • 7. Univ Brest, CNRS, Sorbonne Université, ISYEB
  • 8. Research Institute for Humanity and Nature
  • 9. LETG, Université de Bretagne Occidentale
  • 10. PNDB, UMS 2006 PatriNat
  • 11. CNRS, UMR GEODE, Université Toulouse 2
  • 12. University of Toulouse
  • 13. National Institute of Information and Communications Technology
  • 14. University of California Santa Barbara
  • 15. Tokyo Metropolitan University
  • 16. Scientific Electronic Library Online
  • 17. The University of Queensland
  • 18. American Geophysical Union
  • 19. National University


We are now facing profound changes (biodiversity, climate, pandemic, etc.). Human impacts and their mitigation will depend on our ability to mobilize research at the global level. The sustainable development of the society will largely depend on the sustainable development of global science and scientific research tools, outputs, and research ecosystems. This globalization of research requires interoperating our observation and experimentation systems in order to better understand these changes, to better simulate their effects.

The Covid-19 pandemic is now raging around the world. The reproducibility of research and results across regions in different contexts should accelerate human responses. Data sharing and the development of Synthesis Research with data aggregation at large scale is critical to enable such processes. The use of common knowledge, vocabularies, standards and procedures at a large scale is necessary.

The objective of this poster is to report on the challenges met while building data dictionaries in three global projects related to biodiversity and/or disease research: PARSEC, Kakila, ERINHA-Advance. The Kakila database centralizes and harmonizes marine mammal observation data for the AGOA sanctuary around the French archipelago of Guadeloupe, French Antilles. The PARSEC Project is building new tools for data sharing and reuse through a transnational investigation of the socioeconomic impact of protected areas. The ERINHA-Advance project aims to support the operations of the ERINHA research infrastructure which is designed to generate data from transnational access research activities on highly pathogenic agents. In these 3 global case-studies, similar challenges have arisen: to aggregate and interoperate pre-existing heterogeneous data at the global scale, and to share common tools to monitor, maintain quality,  scan scale and cope with uncertainty. This poster proposes a draft common methodology, a  data dictionary cookbook, which will provide a roadmap towards the building of large scale - data dictionaries. Topics proposed to be covered in such a cookbook include:

  • how to search for existing and appropriate data dictionaries, controlled vocabularies or other semantic resources (before building a new one),

  • the first steps for data dictionary building,

  • data dictionary literacy (and why it is a mandatory work),

  • how to define all scientific objects, aspects (or use existing one) and agree on the definitions with the whole community,

  • building / proposing variables / indicators with ontology models, schemas, variables naming rules and context awareness,

  • and finally addressing dimension issues considering each context.

The common experience of our three projects showed that we need to proceed step by step as simply as possible and to ensure that each step is understandable for the whole community. It is necessary to improve access and re-use of all existing semantic materials and not trying to build a cathedral with a little spoon.


PARSEC is funded by the Belmont Forum through the National Science Foundation (NSF), The São Paulo Research Foundation (FAPESP), the French National Research Agency (ANR), and the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). ERINHA Advance is funded by ERINHA-Advance european program under grant agreement Nº824061. Kakila database is funded by the LabEx DRIIHM French program "Investissements d'Avenir" (ANR-11-LABX-0010) and supported by the SO-DRIIHM project (ANR-19-DATA-0022). This work is partially funded by the EOSC-Life European program (grant agreement No. 824087)


Poster Data_Dictionnary RDA P17 Edinburg VF (1).pdf

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Additional details


EOSC-Life – Providing an open collaborative space for digital biology in Europe 824087
European Commission
ERINHA-Advance – Advancing European Research Infrastcuture on Highly Pathogenic Agents 824061
European Commission


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