The DICE Calls for Service Requests aim to encourage European researchers to take advantage of a set of digital storage services being made available free of charge by the European Commission. The offering includes a broad spectrum of services ranging from the familiar “personal drive storage” for individuals and small teams up to extremely sophisticated value-added facilities for long-term preservation, identification, metadata curation, and implementation of FAIR principles for data-intensive research projects. In addition, the DICE project has defined a simple and efficient process to minimize the time to service acquisition, reducing it in some cases to days.
As part of its initiative to enlarge the EOSC user community, the European Commission has made available over six million Euros to enable storage providers around Europe to offer free data storage facilities to the research community through an innovative funding instrument known as Virtual Access (VA). The VA funding mechanism makes it possible for providers to be compensated fairly and equitably while transparently offering new users their services at no cost until June 2023. After this date, providers will continue to offer their services as part of their mission, under appropriately agreed conditions of use.
What is the DICE Data Storage Service Offering?
DICE offers “something for everyone”, from the individual citizen scientist all the way up to the most demanding scientific research project.
- Personal/project workspaces contain different kinds of data services ranging from basic POSIX based filesystems, object-based storage to cloud storage services. Individual researchers and research teams use personal/project workspaces when doing active research and data is frequently changing during the data processing and analysis steps of the research data lifecycle. Comparable to the “personal drives” often seen in commercial offerings, these workspaces can be acquired rapidly by new users.
- Data archives contain high volume cost-efficient data services in which bit preservation level durability is ensured. These kinds of services are often used to safely store data to bridge projects and/or computing grants.
- Policy-based data archives offer value-added services on top of data archiving, for example automated quality and integrity checks, registration of persistent identifiers, replication across geographical locations or the publication of data sets. They offer a high curation level for your long-term, stable data archives.
- Data repositories make it possible to maintain your research data in a FAIR way. Data is harvested and automatically made discoverable via different search engines (e.g., EUDAT B2FIND, OpenAIRE Explorer). Communities can easily implement a FAIR digital repository in which research data can be maintained and preserved for the long term. Facilities are provided for assigning and minting persistent identifiers and DOIs.
- Data discovery makes research data discoverable from many different communities and scientific disciplines to support cross-disciplinary research. These services are of special interest for community data source owners. Data source owners can make their repositories harvestable and to make their research data widely discoverable in EOSC.
How does it work?
Any individual, or research entity located within the EU Member States or Associated Countries is eligible to access the DICE services free of charge. Only new users may be considered: that is, those who are not yet using the same data storage offering (for example, through separate funding from national authorities).
Many services provided via DICE are already available in the EOSC portal. In order to apply, users have simply to log in to the EOSC Portal here, select their service of interest and submit an order, indicating that it is a DICE request. More services will be made available in the EOSC Portal in the upcoming months.
The time needed to satisfy the user request depends on the level of service requested:
- Basic service requests are satisfied immediately after request, within the same day, and it needs just an account registration – for example, an individual user requesting a “personal workspace”.
- Standard Service may require the selection and configuration of service providers, extending the time from 2 to 10 working days. For example, a research project requesting “policy-based data archives” may need to be served by a combination of providers, each furnishing one of the value-added services requested by the project.
- Customised Service may require a deeper analysis of the needs of the user, followed by negotiation with the pool of DICE service providers in order to arrive at an appropriate selection and configuration of providers. Processing could take longer than for a standard service request, depending on the complexity of the situation.