COINAtlantic Data Accessibility Self-Assessment Tool

The COINAtlantic data accessibility self-assessment tool (CDAST) is for use in organizations to develop a benchmark to monitor progress in improving an organization’s policies and procedures for providing effective and easy access to the data and information held by them. Partners for this project included: Dr. Bertrum MacDonald, School of Information Management, Dalhousie University for tool development, and Robert Branton, Emeritus, Ocean Tracking Network for tool testing and Google form development.

  •  The benchmark is designed to be used repetitively to measure improvement in the effectiveness and ease of accessing data and information by users both within and outside the organization. Use of the benchmark tool on an annual basis would be appropriate.
  • The aggregate score obtained from the benchmark ladders is less important than the individual scores for each ladder. It is the relative scoring on each of the principles / evaluation ladders that will be most useful in focusing initiatives to improve the overall score.
  • The tool could also be used to separately score different business units or data dissemination infrastructures within an organization especially if responsibility for data management and data accessibility is a distributed responsibility.
  • Organizations may want to weight their scores based upon internal priorities e.g. data management policies and plans may be considered a higher priority than user support. It is important that the weightings be explicit and consistently used in each use of the tool.

1. Open Data by Default

2. Completeness

3. Primacy

4. Timeliness

5. Ease of Physical and Electronic Access

6. Non-discrimination

7. Licencing

8. Permanence

9. Usage Costs

10. Supporting Use

11. Evaluation

CDAST Components: Principals and Evaluation Ladders

 The data accessibility principles used in the benchmark are an aggregation of four documents: the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development’s Principles and Guidelines for Access to Research Data from Public Funding1; the Government of Canada’s Operating Principles for the Open Government site2; the United States Memorandum on Open Data Policy3; and the G8 Charter for Open Data4. For each principle one or more evaluation ladders have been developed with questions designed to assist the user in positioning their organization’s policies and procedures on the ladder.

1 OECD Principles and Guidelines for Access to Research Data from Public Funding,

2 Operating Principles for the Open Government site

3 Open Data Policy-Managing Information as an Asset 

4 G8 Open Data Charter and Technical Annex

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