Launch operation of the “Japan Data Catalog for the Humanities and Social Sciences” (JDCat)
The Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS, President: SATOMI Susumu) and the National Institute of Informatics (NII, Managing Director: KITSUREGAWA Masaru), announced the public publication of the “Japan Data Catalog for the Humanities and Social Sciences” (JDCat), a research data search system in the humanities and social sciences. JDCat is a product of the JSPS program for building a data infrastructure for the humanities and social sciences (* 1). It was created on the basis of the WEKO3 repository software developed by the NII’s Research Center for Open Science Infrastructure (* 2) (RCOS, director of the center: YAMAJI Kazutsuna, professor, NII Digital Content and Media Sciences Research Division), and it enables data searches in a variety of humanities and social sciences publications by affiliated research institutions and provides access to published data from each institution.
Research data in the humanities and social sciences are a means of capturing human activities and societal phenomena, and are used in various forms of societal decision-making, including the formulation of policies based on objective evidence. These data include individual data from social surveys, statistical tables of official statistics, texts of historical documents, image data and many other types of data. In other countries, infrastructures are actively developing to make humanities and social sciences data available to the public and share them with societies. JDCat is an interdisciplinary research data research system currently maintained by the five research institutions selected by JSPS through an open call for proposals. These are the Institute for Economic Research at Hitotsubashi University; Center for Social Research and Data Archives, Institute of Social Sciences, University of Tokyo; Keio University Panel Data Research Center; Osaka Business University JGSS Research Center; and Institute of Historiography, University of Tokyo. At the time of this publication, the JDCat system is targeting social science research data, with plans to add humanities research data around October of this year.
The information used to describe the research data (metadata) processed by JDCat conforms to the Data Documentation Initiative (* 3), an international standard in the social sciences. The system is designed to allow searches in Japanese and English. In addition to general text searches, it supports advanced and faceted searches (* 4). JDCat provides an intuitive and easy-to-use research environment for a wide range of users interested in humanities and social sciences research data. The research data provided by this system is expected to be used in various fields such as collaborative research, education and policy planning.
Comments from HIROMATSU Takeshi, Director of the JSPS Center for Building Data Infrastructures for the Humanities and Social Sciences:
“JDCat is a data catalog created by JSPS as part of the Program for the Construction of Data Infrastructures for Humanities and Social Sciences. It gives open access to all. During the last three years, preparatory work has been carried out that laid the groundwork for this launch of the JDCat system. They began by studying the state of data archives in other countries and selecting and translating the controlled vocabulary into their metadata schema. Then we decided which functions should be installed in JDCat, tested the system and made improvements to it.
JDCat has four main operational objectives based on the FAIR date principles (* 5). This involves (1) facilitating the identification of data, (2) optimizing interoperability inside and outside Japan, (3) allowing access to Japanese data in English and (4) to create a data infrastructure that facilitates the automatic collection of metadata from foreign countries. Technologically, these goals are achieved by (1) assigning digital object identifiers to data, (2) mapping the schema in the Data Documentation Initiative (DDI) and the Japan Consortium for Open Access Repository (JPCOAR), (3) maintaining metadata in both Japanese and English, and (4) providing open access to metadata through “Creative Commons zero licenses” (CC0) (* 6).
At this stage, the information provided by JDCat only covers the five research institutions described above, and their scope and types are limited. The scope and types of data are expected to expand as the use of JDCat increases. As a staff member involved in this program, I hope that “what started as something small will turn into something big”, and that will have big impacts.
(* 1) Data Infrastructure Construction Program for Human and Social Sciences:
This program was set up by JSPS in April 2018 with the aim of promoting the humanities and social sciences. By creating a comprehensive infrastructure for sharing and using data related to humanities and social sciences research across disciplines and countries, the project aims to encourage researchers to share data together and promote joint research. , both nationally and internationally. See https: /
(* 2) Open Science Research Center and Data Platform:
In response to the global drive towards open science, this research center was established within the NII in April 2017 to develop and operate an academic platform serving as an infrastructure for open science. It is expected that, through the wide sharing of academic articles and research data in academia and society, and a wide range of openly conducted research activities, research activities will be accelerated, problem solving based on close cooperation with society will be encouraged and this will push academic activities to a new dimension (open science). See https: /
(* 3) Data Documentation Initiative:
The Data Documentation Initiative is an international metadata standard for describing observational data such as surveys and experiments in the social, behavioral, economic, and health sciences. It has been adopted by data archives in other countries, such as ICPSR and UKDS, and is used in the operation of research systems. See https: /
(* 4) faceted searches
A navigation system in which the search system prepares search conditions in advance and the user can refine the search target by selecting the search conditions.
JDCat adopts faceted search for things like “distributor”, with the goal of creating an environment in which novice researchers unfamiliar with specialized keywords can easily search for data.
(* 5) FAIR date principles (FAIR)
These are principles that create an international standard for creating and sharing data. FAIR is the abbreviation for Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable, which expresses a suitable method for providing public access to data. International momentum is building for the creation of standardized data based on these principles. For more information on FAIR as a data sharing standard, see https: /
(* 6) Creative Commons zero licenses (CC0)
CC0 is a type of copyright license that was released by Creative Commons to allow free distribution and reuse of copyrighted material under certain conditions, while retaining copyright. CC0 says “no rights reserved” and that anyone can use the work in any way. For more information, see the Creative Commons Japan website: https: //
About the National Institute of Informatics (NII)
NII is the only university research institute in Japan dedicated to the new discipline of computer science. Its mission is to “create future value” in IT. NII conducts both long-term fundamental research and practical research aimed at solving social problems in a wide range of areas of computer science research, from fundamental theories to the latest topics, such as artificial intelligence, big data , the Internet of Things and information security.
As an inter-university research institute, the NII builds and operates an essential university information infrastructure for the research and teaching activities of the entire university community (including the Scientific Information Network) as well as the development of services such as those that enable the delivery of academic content and service platforms. https: /
About the Information and Systems Research Organization (ROIS)
The ROIS is a parent organization of four national institutes (National Institute of Polar Research, National Institute of Informatics, Institute of Statistical Mathematics and National Institute of Genetics) and of the Joint Support-Center for Data Science Research. The mission of the ROIS is to promote integrated and cutting-edge research that transcends the barriers of these institutions, in addition to facilitating their research activities, as members of interuniversity research institutes.