2016 Leptoukh Lecture
Cynthia Chandler, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Data, data everywhere…
The scientific research endeavor requires data, and in some cases massive amounts of complex and highly diverse data. From experimental design, through data acquisition and analysis, hypothesis testing, and finally drawing conclusions, data collection and proper stewardship are critical to science. Even a single experiment conducted by a single researcher will produce data to test the working hypothesis. The types of complex science questions being tackled today often require large, diverse, multi-disciplinary teams of researchers who must be prepared to exchange their data.
This 2016 AGU Leptoukh Lecture comprises a series of vignettes that illustrate a brief history of data stewardship: where we have come from, how and why we have arrived where we are today, and where we are headed with respect to data management. The specific focus will be on management of marine ecosystem research data and will include observations on the drivers, challenges, strategies, and solutions that have evolved over time. The lessons learned should be applicable to other disciplines and the hope is that many will recognize parallels in their chosen domain.
From historical shipboard logbooks to the high-volume, digital, quality-controlled ocean science data sets created by today’s researchers, there have been enormous changes in the way ocean data are collected and reported. Rapid change in data management practices is being driven by new data exchange requirements, by modern expectations for machine-interoperable exchange, and by the desire to achieve research transparency. Advances in technology and cultural shifts contribute to the changing conditions through which data managers and informatics specialists must navigate.
The unique challenges associated with collecting and managing environmental data, complicated by the onset of the big data era, make this a fascinating time to be responsible for data. It seems there are data everywhere, being collected by everyone, for all sorts of reasons, and people have recognized the value of access to data. Properly managed and documented data, freely available to all, hold enormous potential for reuse beyond the original reason for collection.