5 Data Documentation and Publishing

5.1 Learning Objectives

In this lesson, you will learn:

  • About open data archives, especially the Arctic Data Center
  • What science metadata are and how they can be used
  • How data and code can be documented and published in open data archives
    • Web-based submission

5.2 Data sharing and preservation

5.3 Data repositories: built for data (and code)

  • GitHub is not an archival location
  • Dedicated data repositories: KNB, Arctic Data Center, tDAR, EDI, Zenodo
  • Data papers, e.g., Scientific Data
  • List of data repositories: http://re3data.org

5.4 Metadata

Metadata are documentation describing the content, context, and structure of data to enable future interpretation and reuse of the data. Generally, metadata describe who collected the data, what data were collected, when and where they were collected, and why they were collected.

For consistency, metadata are typically structured following metadata content standards such as the Ecological Metadata Language (EML). For example, here’s an excerpt of the metadata for a sockeye salmon dataset:

That same metadata document can be converted to HTML format and displayed in a much more readable form on the web: https://knb.ecoinformatics.org/#view/doi:10.5063/F1F18WN4

And as you can see, the whole dataset or its components can be downloaded and reused.

Also note that the repository tracks how many times each file has been downloaded, which gives great feedback to researchers on the activity for their published data.

5.5 Structure of a data package

Note that the dataset above lists a collection of files that are contained within the dataset. We define a data package as a scientifically useful collection of data and metadata that a researcher wants to preserve. Sometimes a data package represents all of the data from a particular experiment, while at other times it might be all of the data from a grant, or on a topic, or associated with a paper. Whatever the extent, we define a data package as having one or more data files, software files, and other scientific products such as graphs and images, all tied together with a descriptive metadata document.

These data repositories all assign a unique identifier to every version of every data file, similarly to how it works with source code commits in GitHub. Those identifiers usually take one of two forms. A DOI identifier is often assigned to the metadata and becomes the publicly citable identifier for the package. Each of the other files gets a global identifier, often a UUID that is globally unique. In the example above, the package can be cited with the DOI doi:10.5063/F1F18WN4,and each of the individual files would have their own identifiers as well.

5.6 DataONE Federation

DataONE is a federation of dozens of data repositories that work together to make their systems interoperable and to provide a single unified search system that spans the repositories. DataONE aims to make it simpler for researchers to publish data to one of its member repositories, and then to discover and download that data for reuse in synthetic analyses.

DataONE can be searched on the web (https://search.dataone.org/), which effectively allows a single search to find data from the dozens of members of DataONE, rather than visiting each of the currently 43 repositories one at a time.

5.7 Publishing data from the web

Each data repository tends to have its own mechanism for submitting data and providing metadata. With repositories like the KNB Data Repository and the Arctic Data Center, we provide some easy to use web forms for editing and submitting a data package. Let’s walk through a web submission to see what you might expect.

5.7.1 Download the data to be used for the tutorial

I’ve already uploaded the test data package, and so you can access the data here:

Grab both CSV files, and the R script, and store them in a convenient folder.

5.7.2 Login via ORCID

We will walk through web submission on https://demo.arcticdata.io, and start by logging in with an ORCID account. ORCID provides a common account for sharing scholarly data, so if you don’t have one, you can create one when you are redirected to ORCID from the Sign In button.

When you sign in, you will be redirected to orcid.org, where you can either provide your existing ORCID credentials, or create a new account. ORCID provides multiple ways to login, including using your email address, institutional logins from many universities, and logins from social media account providers. Choose the one that is best suited to your use as a scholarly record, such as your university or agency login.

5.7.3 Create and submit the dataset

After signing in, you can access the data submission form using the Submit button. Once on the form, upload your data files and follow the prompts to provide the required metadata. Click Add Files to choose the data files for your package

You can select multiple files at a time to efficiently upload many files.

The files will upload showing a progress indicator. You can continue editing metadata while they upload. Enter Overview information

This includes a descriptive title, abstract, and keywords.

And you also must enter a funding award number and choose a license. The funding field will search for an NSF award identifier based on words in its title or the number itself. People Information

Information about the people associated with the dataset is essential to provide credit through citation and to help people understand who made contributions to the product. Enter information for the following people:

  • Creators - all the people who should be in the citation for the dataset
  • Contacts - one is required, but defaults to the first Creator if omitted
  • Principal Investigators
  • and any other that are relevant

For each, please strive to provide their ORCID identifier, which helps link this dataset to their other scholarly works. Location Information

The geospatial location that the data were collected is critical for discovery and interpretation of the data. Coordinates are entered in decimal degrees, and be sure to use negative values for West longitudes. The editor allows you to enter multiple locations, which you should do if you had noncontiguous sampling locations. This is particularly important if your sites are separated by large distances, so that spatial search will be more precise.

Note that, if you miss fields that are required, they will be highlighted in red to draw your attention. In this case, for the description, provide a comma-separated place name, ordered from the local to global:

  • Mission Canyon, Santa Barbara, California, USA Temporal Information

Add the temporal coverage of the data, which represents the time period to which data apply. Again, use multiple date ranges if your sampling was discontinuous. Methods

Methods are critical to accurate interpretation and reuse of your data. The editor allows you to add multiple different methods sections, include details of sampling methods, experimental design, quality assurance procedures, and computational techniques and software. Please be complete with your methods sections, as they are fundamentally important to reuse of the data. Save a first version with Submit

When finished, click the Submit Dataset button at the bottom.
If there are errors or missing fields, they will be highlighted.
Correct those, and then try submitting again. When you are successful, you should see a large green banner with a link to the current dataset view. Click the X to close that banner, if you want to continue editing metadata.


5.7.4 File and variable level metadata

The final major section of metadata concerns the structure and contents of your data files. In this case, provide the names and descriptions of the data contained in each file, as well as details of their internal structure.

For example, for data tables, you’ll need the name, label, and definition of each variable in your file. Click the Describe button to access a dialog to enter this information.

The Attributes tab is where you enter variable (aka attribute) information, including:

  • variable name (for programs)
  • variable label (for display)

- variable definition (be specific) - type of measurement - units & code definitions

You’ll need to add these definitions for every variable (column) in the file. When done, click Done. Now the list of data files will show a green checkbox indicating that you have full described that file’s internal structure. Proceed with the other CSV files, and then click Submit Dataset to save all of these changes.

After you get the big green success message, you can visit your dataset and review all of the information that you provided. If you find any errors, simply click Edit again to make changes.

5.7.5 Add workflow provenance

Understanding the relationships between files in a package is critically important, especially as the number of files grows. Raw data are transformed and integrated to produce derived data, that are often then used in analysis and visualization code to produce final outputs. In DataONE, we support structured descriptions of these relationships, so one can see the flow of data from raw data to derived to outputs.

You add provenance by navigating to the data table descriptions, and selecting the Add buttons to link the data and scripts that were used in your computational workflow. On the left side, select the Add circle to add an input data source to the filteredSpecies.csv file. This starts building the provenance graph to explain the origin and history of each data object.

The linkage to the source dataset should appear.

Then you can add the link to the source code that handled the conversion between the data files by clicking on Add arrow and selecting the R script:

The diagram now shows the relationships among the data files and the R script, so click Submit to save another version of the package.

Et voilà! A beatifully preserved data package!