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The way in which DataONE functions is that each individual data repository (we call them Member Nodes once part of our network) installs Member Node repository software that enables the repository to communicate with our Coordinating Nodes. There are a couple of different products available (Metacat, GMN) which can be used as is, or (in the case of our “Generic Member Node”) configured to interoperate with an existing repository system. There is also the potential for custom development. Metacat uses Ecological Metadata Language (EML) as the metadata format while the GMN accepts multiple formats, as you mentioned. You can read more about the GMN here: Also, information on our Member Node deployment routes can be found at:

The DataONE Coordinating nodes host a complete copy of the metadata from each of the Member Nodes and support indexing and replication services. They do not host he data themselves, these remain on the Member Nodes.

Data is discovered by running a search query against the metadata catalog in the Coordinating Nodes via DataONE Search ( When data is downloaded through the results page of DataONE Search, those data come from the Member Nodes.