Best practice for a loosely-structured catalog?


I've been doing some investigations of some local repositories and catalogues, and have uncovered that in many cases 'datasets' are 'just a bag of files'. There is no distinction made between part/whole, distribution (representation), and other kinds of relationship (e.g. documentation, schema, supporting documents). So while the precision we are aiming for in DCAT is clearly valuable in terms of semantics, it is difficult to implement on these legacy systems. Mostly I see people using the Dataset-distribution-> relationship for everything ... which is clearly incorrect in many cases. But I doubt if we are unusual in this.

I'm thinking about how to advise on this, while not actually breaking DCAT.

If we made dcat:distribution a sub-property of dct:relation

dcat:distribution rdfs:subPropertyOf dct:relation .

then I think we can have a reasonable recommendation to the simple repositories.
We could tell repositories that use the 'just a bag of files' approach to say

               :Dataset987 a dcat:Dataset ;
                              dct:relation <file1> , <file2> , <file3> , <file4> , <file5> , <file6> , <file7> ... .

which would not be inconsistent with a later reclassification to

               :Dataset987 a dcat:Dataset ;
                              dct:hasPart <file1> , <file2> ;
                              dcat:distribution <file3> , <file4> ;
                              dct:conformsTo <file5> ;
                              dct:requires <file6> ;
dct:references <file7> .

If this is not all mad, I will add a new use-case - something like 'Mapping from simple repository model' - as justification, and propose this tiny enhancement.


Simon J D Cox
Research Scientist - Environmental Informatics
Team Leader - Environmental Information Infrastructure
CSIRO Land and Water<>

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Received on Friday, 8 June 2018 01:39:01 UTC