International Council for Science - World Data Center System

F. Using the WDC System

A scientist who needs data should approach a WDC that serves the discipline concerned. All WDCs are open to visitors during normal working hours, but it is advisable, and in some cases essential, to arrange personal visits in advance. As mentioned in Section D, some WDCs organize workshops and some have guest programs to provide for extended visits for using data and interacting with WDC staff. Interested scientists should contact an appropriate WDC for details.

The WDC's response to a data request will depend on where the data are held. If the data are held by the WDC, they can normally be provided quickly, at cost of copying and sending. If the data are held in a National Data Center, which may be collocated with a WDC, the WDC will forward the request. Data held in a national Center may be available to any scientist, though their use may be subject to certain rules, and there are no rights of free or cheap copying to other WDCs. Sometimes a WDC can act as a referral service, suggesting possible sources of the required data. If the data are held in another country, the WDC may transmit the request to another WDC.

As specified in the Principles (Section A), WDCs may recover from users the cost of copying and sending the data. Additional charges may be made for special services, such as acquiring data from outside the WDC system. WDCs may provide services free of charge to scientists or institutions that provide data to the WDC.

Chapters 3-7 of this Guide contain descriptions of every WDC. The chapters are intended to give an overview of data and services that are available, and of any special features or activities of the WDC. It may be assumed, unless otherwise stated, that all WDCs are open during normal working hours on Mondays to Fridays, except public holidays. The postal addresses, telephone and fax numbers and Internet addresses should suffice for making contact with the WDC, but such details are of course subject to change. Directors' names are given; but changes of personnel take place from time to time, so general inquiries should be addressed to "The Director" rather than a named person.

Information about the WDC system as a whole may be found on the Worldwide Web Home Pages provided by WDC-A at the National Geophysical Data Center in Boulder, Colorado. The information is updated from time to time, and will include amendments to this WDC Guide. The address is:

The WDC pages are mirrored in Europe by WDC-C1 for STP at Chilton, England, and may be accessed via the WWW address given for that WDC in Chapter 5. Many WDCs have their own Home Pages; the current addresses are given in Appendix A but such information is always liable to change.

It should be noted that there exist organizations that describe themselves as "World Data Centers" but do not necessarily conform to the ICSU rules or provide services on the terms described in this Guide.

Finally, users should always acknowledge the original sources of their data and the assistance given by WDCs. Such acknowledgements are valuable to the WDCs, and may be required by the scientists who originally supplied the data.


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