Authors : Cynthia Parr, Corinna Gries, Margaret O’Brien, Robert R. Downs, Ruth Duerr, Rebecca Koskela, Philip Tarrant, Keith E. Maull, Nancy Hoebelheinrich, Shelley Stall
Despite growing recognition of the importance of public data to the modern economy and to scientific progress, long-term investment in the repositories that manage and disseminate scientific data in easily accessible-ways remains elusive. Repositories are asked to demonstrate that there is a net value of their data and services to justify continued funding or attract new funding sources.
Here, representatives from a number of environmental and Earth science repositories evaluate approaches for assessing the costs and benefits of publishing scientific data in their repositories, identifying various metrics that repositories typically use to report on the impact and value of their data products and services, plus additional metrics that would be useful but are not typically measured.
We rated each metric by (a) the difficulty of implementation by our specific repositories and (b) its importance for value determination. As managers of environmental data repositories, we find that some of the most easily obtainable data-use metrics (such as data downloads and page views) may be less indicative of value than metrics that relate to discoverability and broader use.
Other intangible but equally important metrics (e.g., laws or regulations impacted, lives saved, new proposals generated), will require considerable additional research to describe and develop, plus resources to implement at scale.
As value can only be determined from the point of view of a stakeholder, it is likely that multiple sets of metrics will be needed, tailored to specific stakeholder needs. Moreover, economically based analyses or the use of specialists in the field are expensive and can happen only as resources permit.