Findable: (Meta)data are registered or indexed in a searchable resource

The tale

In their search for data chests, the elves had been reading all sorts of literature to get indications of where to find them. However, the elf Fusky was really fed up looking for data chests, so he sat down under the apple tree in the castle’s courtyard for a short break. He noticed the elf Fyrti walking through the yard carrying a large wooden tree chest.

– “What’s that Fyrti?” he asked.

– “It is gold”, Fyrti replied with a big smile on his face. “Or at least it looks like somebody tried to make gold before we did.” – “Where did you get it from, and how did you find it?” Fusky asked impatiently to know where to look next.

– “This … Well I … found it in the forest. It was just lying there on the ground. I’m sure we don’t have it in the books,” Fyrti said a bit bewildered. “That’s ok, isn’t it?”

– “Sure. It’s great”, said Fusky. “But this means that we have to go and look for chests in every corner of every kingdom. It’s going to take decades!”

– “I know”, said Fyrti, trying to keep the smile on his face. “But I have just heard rumours that Wildy the data wizard is talking to the people in the library tower. They might have found a magic chest map.”

– “Exciting” said Fusky, almost forgetting that he was sick and tired of looking for data chests. “With all chests mapped?” crossing three fingers.

– “Maybe”, Fyrti replied. “Who knows …?”

The truth

Traversing the entire internet for (research) data sets is neither feasible nor doable. And it leaves too much room for serendipity, which can be nice in some cases, but not desirable when making structured searches for data sets. Making research data available on project websites etc. usually adds to the risk of only being found
by coincidence. Repositories are websites – most often – and represent a common way for building structured indexes of metadata and data sets that are uploaded to the repository. The indexes often adhere to a specific way of describing the data using a common standard. This will allow both repository and other search engines
to harvest and index these registries, often aggregating them to larger indexes that eventually can be cross-searched.

Repositories come in many shapes and forms. Some are generic repositories that will take almost any data set, while others are targeted towards specific disciplines or research data types. Repositories are usually owned and operated by institutions, research communities, or private companies. The question of where exactly to deposit your data is a matter of determining the best repository for your specific data set, thereby maximizing its findability and potential. This is often evaluated on a case-to-case basis.