The Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at the University of Illinois has received a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in the amount of $499,919 to develop a framework for curating scientific research data. The grant, “Site-Based Data Curation for Small Science” is a two-year project led by Carole Palmer, GSLIS Professor and Director of the Center for Informatics Research in Science and Scholarship (CIRSS). The co-PIs and partner institutions are Bruce Fouke, Professor in Geology, Microbiology, and the Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Ann Rodman, Director of Geographic Information Systems at Yellowstone National Park; and Sayeed Choudhury, Hodson Director of the Digital Research and Curation Center and Associate Dean for Research Data Management at Johns Hopkins University.
The team brings together experts in data curation, research library repositories, geobiology, and research site management to develop policies and processes for the curation of diverse digital data collected at Yellowstone National Park (YNP). Yellowstone is a tremendously rich and scientifically significant site for data collection in geobiology, drawing scientists investigating research questions ranging from the origin of life on Earth to the search for life on other planets. The framework will result in a general curation model readily extendible to other national parks and other important research sites, especially cradles of biodiversity such as coral reefs and deep crustal biosphere locations.
“The SBDC framework will be an important step forward in professional best practices for the curation of research data,” said Palmer. “It also represents the kinds of institutional collaborations needed to build functional, interdisciplinary data services and systems for earth and life sciences. Geobiology is an exemplary interdisciplinary science, and Yellowstone is a mecca for data collection in geobiology. The project is responding to the needs of scientists who can benefit from sharing and integrating data, as well as the needs of park service professionals who support the science communities that depend on the rich data resources available at YNP.”
Fouke, who has conducted research at Yellowstone for many years, said, “This cross-disciplinary site-based data curation research program with Professor Palmer and her team will fundamentally influence how geobiology research is currently being conducted in Yellowstone National Park. This will positively impact not only how research questions are formulated and field data collected, but also the core principles behind data dissemination and availability.”
The project will also test workflows for the transfer of curated data to the Data Conservancy for preservation and access and help support the coordination of data resources produced at the YNP. “JHU is excited about this important project because it provides a unique opportunity to further explore the potential for Data Conservancy (DC) infrastructure toward long-tail science, particularly on-site at the point of data acquisition or creation. This project also builds on lessons learned during the use of DC infrastructure for the Dry Valleys Project,” said Choudhury.
The new data curation approaches will be integrated into the curriculum of the specialization in Data Curation at GSLIS and undergraduate and graduate geobiology courses taught at Illinois, with educational outreach extended to Yellowstone. The education activities will advance data curation workforce expertise in handling complex, cross-disciplinary data and help prepare scientific communities to contribute to and take advantage of diverse collections of curated data.