Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to Coscine here. If your question is not here do not hesitate to contact us.

About Coscine

The motivation behind Coscine is to offer researchers a safe and supportive integration platform for collaborative research and to fullfill the FAIR principles. Coscine does not want to and cannot replace already established services (such as S3 storage, GitLab or cloud services), but rather puts a FAIR layer (among other things, via metadata annotation and PID allocation) around the services (so-called resources), enables project-wide access to them and thus facilitates cooperation. In this way, we try to make Coscine well integrable into researchers’ existing processes and to provide added value in data management. Many research projects can benefit from this.

You can find the answer to this question in our Terms of use.

Anyone at a participating university or with an ORCID can log into Coscine, create a project, and create a resource (e.g., Linked Data) in it (see Getting Started). This way you can test project management and metadata management within resources. You do not need any special accounts or extended rights for this. If you are interested in using the Research Data Storage (Storage Space Resources RDS), please follow the instructions Requesting Storage Space for Testing.

Data security Research data is not stored directly in Coscine but can be integrated via various data sources (resource types).Depending on the resource type (e.g. RDS, Gitlab), security policies apply to data. Metadata stored in Coscine is stored locally according to BSI standards, protected from unauthorized access and backed up. The Research Data Storage (RDS-Web and RDS-S3) is operated by a consortium of universities (RWTH Aachen University, University of Cologne, University of Duisburg-Essen, Ruhr University Bochum and Technical University Dortmund) and is therefore subject to strict data protection guidelines. The RDS is based on modern object store technology and is protected against loss by site-redundant storage. Data is stored redundantly at at least 3 locations in NRW, so that a total failure of a data center can be compensated. Data security is ensured at the local sites via erasure coding.

The security of data in external systems (e.g. Linked Data or GitLab) remains in the hands of the respective operators.

Data access security

Coscine uses state-of-the-art security technologies to protect your data, and transmission to end devices is SSL-encrypted. This also ensures the security of communication with the various types of resources. All systems are operated according to BSI basic protection. As a university consortium, there is also no interest in passing on the data of its own researchers.

General

Coscine can integrate different data sources (resource types). Depending on the resource type (e.g. RDS, Gitlab), the corresponding usage rules apply to data (e.g. Gitlab usage rules).

Resource type RDS

The Research Data Store (RDS) is provided only by Coscine and allows use exclusively for research data.

Special case: personal data

Personal research data (e.g. psychological / medical origin) can be accessed through Coscine (see Terms of Use). In this case, the user must ensure that the usage rules of the resource type used allow the storage and management of personal data. Personal data may be stored on RWTH-RDS resources if this is permitted by the declaration of consent of the persons concerned. In addition, we always recommend encryption and pseudonymization of personal data.

Research data is not stored directly in Coscine but can be integrated via different data sources (resource types). Depending on the resource type (e.g., RDS, Gitlab), appropriate retention periods apply to data. Research data is retained on Research Data Storage (RDS) for ten years after the end of the project, according to good scientific practice. Regardless of the resource type, Coscine also guarantees retention for 10 years after the end of the project in accordance with good scientific practice for each associated metadata.

Should long-term archiving for research (meta)data be required (longer than 10 years), please contact your respective library/FDM advisory office first. For more detailed regulations on storage periods for various data (user data, research data, metadata), please refer to the Privacy Policy."

No, Coscine cannot be used to publish research data. Coscine is intentionally designed for warm / changing research data and depending on the resource type, a maximum of 10 years retention time can be guaranteed (see Archiving Data). However, Coscine allows you to reference your data with a persistent identifier (PID). In addition, early annotation with metadata makes it easier to publish data later. If you would like to publish your data, please contact your respective library. They will assist you in selecting a suitable repository and subsequent publication. See Referencing data for more information.

No, Coscine does not allow the release of (meta)data outside the platform. Access to files is always within a project only (people need to be actively added as members for this - e.g. as guests with read-only rights). The resolution of PIDs from Coscine always first redirects to a contact page, from where the project owner(s) can be contacted. Metadata can be shared publicly within Coscine. In principle, however, the ability to share files publicly is in the planning stages - but depends heavily on the type of resource being used (see https://docs.coscine.de/en/resources/).

No, Coscine does not currently allow public sharing of (meta)data outside the platform. Access to files is always within a project only (people need to be actively added as members for this - e.g. as guests with read-only rights). The resolution of PIDs from Coscine always first redirects to a contact page, from where the project owner(s) can be contacted. Metadata can be shared publicly within Coscine. In principle, however, the ability to share files publicly is in the planning stages - but depends heavily on the type of resource being used (see https://docs.coscine.de/en/resources/).

By applying for storage space, the principal investigator of this project confirms that in publications arising from this project the storage space granted by the Research Data Storage (RDS) of NRW via Coscine can be acknowledged using the following phrase: The data used in this publication was managed using the research data management platform Coscine with storage space granted by the Research Data Storage (RDS) of the DFG and Ministry of Culture and Science of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia (DFG: INST222/1261-1 and MKW: 214-4.06.05.08 - 139057).

The development of Coscine is financed by third-party funds from various projects and programs. A detailed description can be found under Development & Funding.

An ORCiD is a persistent identifier (PID) for individuals. This means that it is a sequence of letters and numbers that can be uniquely assigned to a specific person. Accordingly, the number is personal and remains current even after a change of job or institution.

Projects

The organizations available in Coscine are based on the international ROR IDs and are regularly updated by Coscine. The most common organizations (mainly universities) are offered in the list. If your organization does not appear in the list, you can simply type the name into the field. If no matching organization appears, the organization in question probably has not yet registered an ID with ROR. This can only be initiated by the organization itself.

In Coscine projects there are three roles “Owner”, “Member” and “Guest”. Owners have read and write access to a project. They can add, edit and view files. They can manage members and change project settings. Members have read and write access to a project. They can add, edit, and view files. Guest have read access to a project. They can only view and download data. For RDS-S3 resources, the access and secret keys are given for reading and writing.

There is no specific limit to the number of resources that can be stored in a project. Since the data in a resource is described with a common metadata scheme, it can make sense within more complex projects to have several resources of one type in order to describe different data types with corresponding metadata schemes.

For each subproject, storage space must be requested separately in the application of the main project (see Subprojects and Storage Space Management).

If you forgot to request subprojects or want to create them later, there are two scenarios:

  1. You stay with the requested storage space in total, but divide it differently between the main project and the subprojects (e.g. from 500 GB only in the main project to 250 GB in the main project and 250 GB in the subproject). Then send an email to servicedesk@itc.rwth-aachen.de.

  2. You exceed the requested storage space. Please then make a new request (see Storage Space Management).

You can add other researchers to a project via their email address (if it is from a participating organization) or via their ORCID ID. The instructions can be found under the Roles and Member Management.

If you do not see an email address in projects for yourself or other researchers, this is probably due to the login via ORCID. The reason is that Coscine does not receive information about personal data, such as email addresses from ORCID.

Please go to your user profile and add your email address and any other information there (see Personal Data for instructions).

Yes, the disciplines of projects and sub-projects can be selected independently of each other in Coscine. This allows projects and sub-projects to be described as individually as possible if they are not in the same discipline.

This function is currently not supported by Coscine. All individuals must be added individually to the corresponding projects or sub-projects.

If someone is already registered in Coscine, the name is displayed directly. If someone has not yet been registered in Coscine, the e-mail address is displayed, as an e-mail with the corresponding invitation link is sent to the person in question. The invited person can log in to Coscine by clicking on the link (via single sign-on or ORCiD).

An access token can be used to automate certain processes, as you can authenticate yourself via Coscine without your account. Any number of access tokens can be created for all applications that require access to the Coscine API. To create an access token, go to your user profile and enter a token name and an expiration date under Create access token. As the created token is only visible once, you should save it in a secure location (e.g. in the password manager). Please treat access tokens confidentially, just like other passwords for your computer or your accounts.

Metadata

Metadata is used to describe (research) data, e.g. the acquisition date, the analysis method or the exposure. In many areas, it is now possible for metadata to be automatically recorded and saved on a device so that it only needs to be linked to the associated research data. This function is very practical and, above all, saves a lot of time in everyday work. For more information, see the documentation.

According to the FAIR principles, metadata offer many advantages, including increased discoverability with the help of a metadata search. Other researchers can, for example, search for the metadata after reading a publication and ask the relevant contact person for access to the research data. Information on the accessibility of the research data should also be noted in the metadata. This regulates exactly who is allowed to view the data and who is not. You can also specify how the data is secured. For example, by means of a password or that external persons only have one-time access to the data via a link. The possibilities are very diverse and, thanks to metadata, the processes can be described in detail. This ensures that the research data can be reused even after the main staff member has left the company. In order to enable simple and problem-free reusability, the metadata (as well as the research data itself) should be stored using common file formats and software.

The search in the metadata is carried out using ElasticSearch. The search index is regularly updated and supplemented with additional information.

File names in Coscine may have a maximum length of approx. 1000 characters (without special characters 1000 characters, with special characters somewhat less).

You can select a license for your research data in Coscine when creating resources to determine if and how your data can be reused.For research data, based on recommendations from forschungsdaten.info, we recommend using the open and free Creative Commons Licenses (CC licenses). In Germany, the following requirements for licensing must be met:

  • Your research data is protected by the German Copyright

  • You are the author and/or right holder of the research data

Unfortunately, we cannot offer legal advice on licenses. If you are unsure, you can find more information about copyright and publishing research data at forschungsdaten.info.

In the interest of open science, we recommend that you clarify whether open licenses are suitable for your research data. If you are legally uncertain, you can leave the field blank. If you do not select a license and your research data is protected by copyright, German copyright law automatically applies.

Note: Choosing an open license (e.g. CC BY 4.0) in Coscine does not automatically make the data publicly available. The license is just another piece of information (i.e. a metadata field) about the data. To learn how to make your data publicly available, see Publication and Findability of Data.

The right metadata schema or application profile depends heavily on the subject focus of your project. There are subject-specific (e.g. EngMeta) and generic (e.g. RADAR) metadata schemas or application profiles (see About Metadata and Application Profiles). Established metadata standards have already evolved for different domains. Unfortunately, we cannot provide domain-specific advice, please contact your subject-specific NFDI, Data Steward, the Ontology Lookup Service or forschungsdaten.info for this. If you cannot find a suitable application profile in Coscine, you can create one yourself. You can find all important information about this under About Metadata and Application Profiles.

If the given metadata schemes / application profiles turn out to be insufficient for your purpose, you can find under Metadata and Application Profiles a guide to get an individual application profile.

Metadata are submitted once and managed or stored separately from the data in an RDF store (Virtuoso). If the data is changed in the background, bypassing the APIs, the metadata is not updated. A system for automatically extracting metadata is currently being developed.

Resources

The right resource type depends on two factors: firstly, on your own university and secondly, on the intended usage. On our Documentation you will find all important information as well as a flowchart which can help you to decide on the right resource type.

The Research Data Storage (RDS) is an Elastic Cloud Storage (ECS) object storage from Dell.

DELL’s ECS machines, over which the Research Data Storage (RDS) runs, are connected at 2x 10 Gib/s. This capacity is divided among several channels, most of which can be used for file transfer, others are used for geo-redundant storage and synchronization between sites. Depending on the type of transmission used, some overhead must be considered. However, the individual performance of uploading & downloading files via S3 client is mainly dependent on the location of the transfer (e.g. location in the DFN network), utilization of the network used, the devices used (always limited by the slowest device, e.g. laptop, VMs, routers, etc.), the individual file size and whether an upload or download takes place (here an upload is always faster than a download).

If there are many small files (e.g. significantly more than 1000 files with a size smaller than 10 MB), the S3 performance is limited and we therefore recommend to merge the individual files (e.g. from a measurement) into a zip file or tar file. This not only facilitates the transfer, but also the later management of the data sets.

When transferring files from HPC clusters, it is recommended to log in via data transfer nodes for a better network connection. These are characterized by a particularly good network connection and allow significantly higher transfer rates than, for example, the standard dialog system (in some cases 3 times faster).

If you are from a participating university, there should be up to 100 GB available in the associated RDS-Web resource (see Documentation for more information). Obtaining storage requires employee status at the respective university and logging in via SSO so that Coscine can assign the right university. If only ORCID login has been used so far, both login methods should be linked first (see Documentation for instructions). Only the Linked Data and RDS-Web resources can be used without a request. If you need storage in another resource type, see our Documentation for all links to the application portal.

If there is no storage space (left), the project owner must apply for additional storage space. You can find the application form here: Storage Management.

Note: Bachelor/Master students do not receive storage space in Coscine, the project must always be created by the employed supervisor (see Storage Management).

The step-by-step instructions for archiving data in Coscine can be found under the page Archiving.

You can find all answers to this topic on the Coscine API page.

Problem solving

It is possible that you have logged in via two different services and that you are assigned different projects. You can easily connect these accounts to have access to all your projects, regardless of the log-in method. The instruction can be found under Connecting log-in methods.

If you have used the RDS-Web resource via the browser, your files may be too large. Many browsers allow max. 2-3 GB file size. In this case, use either the Coscine Rest API or an RDS-S3 resource. You can also use your application profile for this. If you have problems with the upload on other resources please write to servicedesk@itc.rwth-aachen.de.

If the connection fails only in the home office, the error could be the configuration of your home router. Home routers that only use UDP for name server queries may have limited availability of storage services. You will get an error message saying that an address of the form .s3.fds.rwth-aachen.de cannot be resolved (ERR_NAME_NOT_RESOLVED). In these cases we recommend an update of the home router to use TCP as well. An unrestricted availability of the storage services absolutely requires the use of UDP and TCP for name server queries. This is in accordance with the DNS standard, which requires that both UDP and TCP be supported.

In order for Coscine to be able to assign which university users come from, they must log in via the institutional account or link the ORCiD account to the institutional login. A login via ORCiD without a subsequent link does not forward the university information to Coscine. If the linkage of the accounts happens after the project creation, the project will not get quota retrospectively. In this case, a new project needs to be created after linkage. You should therefore link both login options and try allocating the quota again.

Coscine’s 1st level support is provided by the respective university so that they can help with any questions. 2nd level support is provided by RWTH Aachen University itself, so that the IT-ServiceDesk can be informed in the event of technical and specific questions. Internal forwarding to the developers or the responsible persons takes place as quickly as possible.

If the FAQ and the instructions do not help you with a problem, please contact the IT-ServiceDesk.

Further information

So far there is no documentation on how to set up a Dell ECS system. However, support can be provided on how to configure the system so that Coscine can be connected. The experience of other universities that have already done this can be used for this.

When managing data via the Coscine web front end, two methods are used for uploading and downloading files. On the one hand via so-called presigned URLs directly from the storage system or on the other hand via the Coscine APIs. In general, we prefer the first option and only use the second as a fallback if the storage system cannot be reached directly by the user or the system does not support standard-compliant presigned URLs. It must also be taken into account that the metadata entered is checked by Coscine and therefore it cannot be ruled out that it is temporarily stored on servers in Aachen.

No, as this is excluded by Dell EMC’s license conditions.

Information about the development of Coscine can be found on the GitLab website of Coscine.

Coscine can be used by anyone. In order to access the RDS repository, users must belong to one of the RDS-authorized universities. Otherwise, it is only possible to use GitLab or LinkedData as a resource. As Coscine is an open source platform, users can exchange information about the various functions in the GitLab community area. It is possible to invite external persons to a project in Coscine if the external persons subsequently log in to Coscine with the ORCiD. To become a part of Coscine and take a look behind the scenes, it is also worth taking a look at the career website.