Robert Schuler

ERMRest: A Collaborative Data Catalog with Fine Grain Access Control

TitleERMRest: A Collaborative Data Catalog with Fine Grain Access Control
Publication TypeConference Paper
Year of Publication2017
AuthorsK. Czajkowski, C. Kesselman, and R. E. Schuler
Conference Name2017 IEEE 13th International Conference on e-Science (e-Science)
Date PublishedOct

Creating and maintaining an accurate description of data assets and the relationships between assets is a critical aspect of making data findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable (FAIR). Typically, such metadata are created and maintained in a data catalog by a curator as part of data publication. However, allowing metadata to be created and maintained by data producers as the data is generated rather then waiting for publication can have significant advantages in terms of productivity and repeatability. The responsibilities for metadata management need not fall on any one individual, but rather may be delegated to appropriate members of a collaboration, enabling participants to edit or maintain specific attributes, to describe relationships between data elements, or to correct errors. To support such collaborative data editing, we have created ERMrest, a relational data service for the Web that enables the creation, evolution and navigation of complex models used to describe and structure diverse file or relational data objects. A key capability of ERMRest is its ability to control operations down to the level of individual data elements, i.e. fine-grained access control, so that many different modes of data-oriented collaboration can be supported. In this paper we introduce ERMRest and describe its fine-grained access control capabilities that support collaborative editing. ERMrest is in daily use in many data driven collaborations and we describe a sample policy that is based on a common biocuration pattern.