Description of Data and Information Management
The goal of the PIE LTER data and information system is to provide a centralized network of information and data related to the Plum Island Ecosystem. This network provides researchers access to common information and data in addition to protected long-term storage. Data and information are also easily accessible to local, regional, and state partners and the broader scientific community. Researchers associated with PIE are committed to the integrity of the information and databases resulting from the research. Access by the public and scientific community to data and information is provided on our website, http://pie-lter.ecosystems.mbl.edu/. The website contains information on research, data, education and outreach, personnel and publications. The data section features search and browsing capabilities of research information. PIE maintains an Intranet site with archived datasets from which the PIE web site is updated annually. Some datasets (streaming data logger data) are updated more frequently. MBL researchers can directly access archived data on MBL’s server. Non-MBL researchers have access to a secure FTP web site at MBL for archival back up of their data (both unprocessed and processed). PIE maintains a server at the Rowley Field station to manage streaming of telemetry data from weather, water quality and eddy flux remote stations.
Data Management and Design of Research Projects
Data management and design of research projects is coordinated through an information management team. The information management team consists of: Anne Giblin (Lead PI), Joe Vallino (PI), Robert Pontius (PI), Robert (Hap) Garritt (IM), Jane Tucker (SRA), Liz Duff (Education) and research assistants associated with program areas. Several meetings each year provide each researcher the opportunity to communicate with the PIE information management team regarding the design of the specific research project and subsequent incorporation of data and information into the PIE LTER database.
Contributions of Data to Database
Individual researchers are responsible for providing metadata and data via a PIE LTER Excel Metadata Template for each of the core research areas. Researchers on the PIE LTER are expected to follow the LTER Network data release policy defined on the LTER web page, http://lternet.edu/policies/data-access. Researchers using the facilities of the PIE LTER are expected to comply with the LTER policy even if they are not funded by the LTER. Data files must include accompanying documentation files that completely describe the data. PIE currently uses a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet template for managing metadata and data. The Excel template allows for: 1) consistent metadata entry, 2) subsequent conversion via a visual basic macro to XML structured Ecological Metadata Language (EML 2.1.0) according to EML Best Practices for LTER Sites and 3) QA/QC checks for uploading to the LTER Network Metacat and PASTA Data Portals. Individual researchers are responsible for quality assurance, quality control, data entry, validation and analysis for their respective projects. Researchers are reminded about contributions to the database several times during the year via email, teleconference calls and field sampling trips, in addition to announcements during our Annual Spring PIE LTER All Scientists Meeting.
Data Accessibility and Timeliness
Researchers on the PIE LTER are required to contribute data to the PIE LTER database. It is recognized that investigators on PIE LTER have first opportunity for use of data in publications but there is also the realization for timely submittal of data sets for incorporation into the PIE LTER database. PIE strives to make data available within 1-2 years. The variability in time is dependent upon the time required for sample analysis and corresponding QA/QC of data and metadata. Many logger data sets, such as sonde water quality, water level, discharge and meteorological observations and data that do not require a great deal of post-collection chemical or other analysis, are available within 3-6 months of collection. Selected data (weather, water level and water quality) are made available in near real time to provide timely awareness of local conditions. PIE follows the data release policy for the LTER network that states:
“There are two types of data: Type I (data that is freely available within 2 years) with minimum restrictions and, Type II (Exceptional data sets, rare in occurrence that are available only with written permission from the PI/investigator(s)).”
PIE strives to make datasets easily accessible to PIE LTER scientists, local, regional, and state partners and the broader scientific community. Datasets are available across the broad breadth of PIE research in the watersheds and estuary. We currently have no registration requirements for either observing or downloading data from our web site, which has resulted in seamless access to all PIE LTER data. PIE data downloads on our web site are accompanied by a metadata document, which requests (based on the honor system) users of the data to notify the corresponding Principal Investigator about reasons for acquiring the data and resulting publication intentions (see PIE LTER Data Use Agreement.)