Please see the article ‘CoreTrustSeal: From academic collaboration to sustainable services‘, which gives a full overview of the history of CoreTrustSeal.

The CoreTrustSeal, launched in 2017, defines requirements and offers core level certification for Trustworthy Data Repositories holding data for long-term preservation. It is the culmination of a cooperative effort between the Data Seal of Approval (DSA) and the World Data System of the International Science Council (WDS), under the umbrella of the Research Data Alliance (RDA), to harmonize their data repository certifications.

RDA DSA–WDS Partnership Working Group

The Data Seal of Approval and the WDS Regular Member certification were core certification standards with aligned goals. Both held a multidisciplinary and global remit, though for historical reasons their primary applicants differed—WDS mostly serving the Earth and Space Sciences worldwide, and DSA serving the Social Sciences and Humanities predominantly—so a partnership offered an opportunity to serve a wider community.

In 2013, the Repository Audit and Certification DSA–WDS Partnership Working Group (WG) was proposed in RDA, with a vision of realizing efficiencies, simplifying assessment options, stimulating more certifications, and increasing impact on the community. The partnership involved representatives of both communities, and in keeping with the transparency principles of RDA, the WG efforts were open to the full RDA membership for participation and communication.

The outputs of the WG, which are RDA Recommendations, are the Core Trustworthy Data Repositories Requirements and Catalogue of Common Procedures at the heart of the CoreTrustSeal certification standard. And with an agreed set of procedural and criteria references, WDS and DSA began negotiations to merge their certification processes, and adopted the common requirements for new applications and renewals.


Key factors in the alignment of DSA and the WDS Regular Member certification were the formation of an interim board; the development of a common branding plan; board statutes and a business plan; as well as the creation of additional guidance to support reviewer training, and an online tool for the application and administration processes. On 11 September 2017, a single independent entity, the new CoreTrustSeal organisation was announced. From 2018, the CoreTrustSeal is a legal foundation entity under Dutch law.

The CoreTrustSeal has grown from two complementary approaches to a single set of guidelines ensuring that data repositories can be trusted as stewards for the long term. It has grown and adapted to changing circumstances and continues to do so.