Data seal of approval

"A well-curated data repository is more than a place to put data." - LSE blog(1)

   Main points

A digital archive can be subject to inspection by third parties and as a result acquire a data certificate. That certificate indicates that, according to third parties, the archive is a Trusted Digital Repository (TDR) and that the research data deposited here will continue to be able to be found and shared in the future.

The Data Seal of Approval(2) (DSA) is a data certificate that was developed by DANS and transferred to an international governing board in 2009. Any data archive can qualify for the DSA. overgedragen aan een internationaal bestuur. Elk data-archief kan in aanmerking komen voor het DSA.

The Data Seal of Approval is based on the so-called OAIS(3) (Reference Model for an Open Archival System). There are 16 guidelines that the archive must demonstrably comply with. These concern describing and documenting work processes such as handling software, hardware and data migration (see also  Data processing). 

In order to qualify for a DSA, an archive must, in summary, meet the following criteria(4)

  • The data can be found on the internet.
  • The data is available (taking into account privacy and intellectual property).
  • The data is available in a useable format. 
  • The data is reliable. 
  • The data can be cited.    

There is a list of institutions(5) that have been awarded the Data Seal of Approval.

Other forms of certification

In addition to the DSA, there are other forms of certification. The DSA, together with two other, more extensive standards, constitute the framework of European Trusted Digital Repositories(6):

Both 4TU.Centre for Research Data and DANS have received the Data Seal of Approval. DANS has also completed the test application for the ISO 16363 certificate for the online archiving system EASY and in 2016 it has acquired the DIN 31644 certification.

  An in-depth look 

  • View the slides and video of an APARSEN-webinar on the certification of digital data repositories(9).


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  1. LSE. (2013, August 7). Data repositories are expanding their role to ensure quality of reproducible research. [blog]. Retrieved from 
  2. Data Seal of Approval. Retrieved from
  3. CCSDS. (2012). Reference Model for an Open Archival Information System (OAIS). Retrieved from
  4. Data Seal of Approval, Guidelines version 2, July 19, 2013. Retrieved from
  5. Data Seal of Approval. List of Repositories that have acquired the Data Seal of Approval. Retrieved from
  6. European Framework for Audit and Certification of Digital Repositories. Retrieved from
  7. DIN. DIN 31644. Information and documentation - Criteria for trustworthy digital archives. Retrieved from
  8. ISO. ISO 16363:2012. Space data and information transfer systems - Audit and certification of trustworthy digital repositories. Retrieved from
  9. Aparsen. Certification of Digital Preservation Repositories. Short report of the APARSEN webinar on December 9, 2013. Retrieved from