Data Curation for Big Interdisciplinary Science: The Pulley Ridge Experience

Authors : Timothy B. Norris, Christopher C. Mader

The curation and preservation of scientific data has long been recognized as an essential activity for the reproducibility of science and the advancement of knowledge. While investment into data curation for specific disciplines and at individual research institutions has advanced the ability to preserve research data products, data curation for big interdisciplinary science remains relatively unexplored terrain.

To fill this lacunae, this article presents a case study of the data curation for the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) funded project “Understanding Coral Ecosystem Connectivity in the Gulf of Mexico-Pulley Ridge to the Florida Keys” undertaken from 2011 to 2018 by more than 30 researchers at several research institutions.

The data curation process is described and a discussion of strengths, weaknesses and lessons learned is presented. Major conclusions from this case study include: the reimplementation of data repository infrastructure builds valuable institutional data curation knowledge but may not meet data curation standards and best practices; data from big interdisciplinary science can be considered as a special collection with the implication that metadata takes the form of a finding aid or catalog of datasets within the larger project context; and there are opportunities for data curators and librarians to synthesize and integrate results across disciplines and to create exhibits as stories that emerge from interdisciplinary big science.

URL : Data Curation for Big Interdisciplinary Science: The Pulley Ridge Experience

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Information in the ecosystem: Against the “information ecosystem”

Authors : Timothy B. Norris, Todd Suomela

The “information ecosystem” metaphor is widely used in academic libraries and has become nearly ubiquitous when speaking of the information systems that support scholarly communication and varied forms of data sharing and publication.

The trending use of this language arises from non-academic applications — for example in big data (the Hadoop ecosystem) or software development (the node.js ecosystem) — and there remains little critical examination of the use of this metaphor.

Indeed, the definition of ecosystem as the set of relations between living organisms and their surrounding non-living environment is apparently not directly a part of the metaphor.

This paper first describes the emergence of ecological thinking and how it was influenced by early information science and then explores how different “ecologies” are used within the academy, including in the emergent field of information ecology.

A short critique of the metaphor is then posed and the paper concludes that the information ecosystem metaphor is useful, yet at the same time there are dangerous elements that render aspects of human societies and natural ecosystems invisible.