Mapping Hierarchical File Structures to Semantic Data Models for Efficient Data Integration into Research Data Management Systems


Although other methods exist to store and manage data in modern information technology, the standard solution is file systems. Therefore, keeping well-organized file structures and file system layouts can be key to a sustainable research data management infrastructure. However, file structures alone lack several important capabilities for FAIR data management: the two most significant being insufficient visualization of data and inadequate possibilities for searching and obtaining an overview. Research data management systems (RDMSs) can fill this gap, but many do not support the simultaneous use of the file system and RDMS. This simultaneous use can have many benefits, but keeping data in RDMS in synchrony with the file structure is challenging. Here, we present concepts that allow for keeping file structures and semantic data models (in RDMS) synchronous. Furthermore, we propose a specification in yaml format that allows for a structured and extensible declaration and implementation of a mapping between the file system and data models used in semantic research data management. Implementing these concepts will facilitate the re-use of specifications for multiple use cases. Furthermore, the specification can serve as a machine-readable and, at the same time, human-readable documentation of specific file system structures. We demonstrate our work using the Open Source RDMS LinkAhead (previously named “CaosDB”).

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