Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Open Data in Ecology

The current Science Magazine special issue on data on Open Data in Ecology.

Ecology is a synthetic discipline benefiting from open access to data from the earth, life, and social sciences. Technological challenges exist, however, due to the dispersed and heterogeneous nature of these data. Standardization of methods and development of robust metadata can increase data access but are not sufficient. Reproducibility of analyses is also important, and executable workflows are addressing this issue by capturing data provenance. Sociological challenges, including inadequate rewards for sharing data, must also be resolved. The establishment of well-curated, federated data repositories will provide a means to preserve data while promoting attribution and acknowledgement of its use.

This opens again the question of the illusion of adding up heterogenous data set. What can be done, what can not be done with the legacy data - data that we are going to produce for the next decennium if we do not have incentives to overcome existing research practices: to be very parsimonious on metadata and especially studying what it would need to collect data to be able to build up a larger dataset that can be used well beyond the scientists' own particular interest.


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