View more stories by categories: DataBits

This issue features articles that present a wide set of themes including historical facts, a vision for collaboration strategies given new partnerships and challenges, descriptions of systems that produce EML packages to deposit data in data repositories, individual experiences of special events like the 2017 solar eclipse and a tropical hurricane, and information management post-LTER following termination of an LTER site from the former information manager.

We wanted to acknowledge the fact that the US LTER is not the only community of LTER scientists and information managers in the world. We invited the ILTER community of IMs to share their stories in this issue, so we can learn from each other and foster future collaborations. The reader will learn of the complexity of the ILTER community as a network of networks, as well as independent countries that want to participate in the effort of documenting and sharing data (see Blankman’s article on ILTER). Readers will also learn about their challenges, goals, and solutions for establishing a common data repository including the need to develop common guidelines and governance to deal with local issues related to data sharing (see Peterseil’s article on the eLTER Information System). Readers will learn about the similarities between ILTER and US LTER goals. Methods may vary, but both have adopted EML as a universal metadata language and have used the LTER Controlled Vocabulary as a keyword thesaurus. There are important differences between these communities that the reader can extract from these articles. It is important to keep in mind the difference in their definition of a “site”. While a US LTER site represents all administrative and scientific resources to achieve scientific research, an ILTER site is the place where the data are gathered. Another common term with completely different meanings is “EDI”. In the eLTER information managers’ (IMs) world, the acronym “EDI” represents a metadata editor client, while in the US world it is an organization. Another interesting yet subtle difference is the reason for developing governance plans (see Earl et al.’s IMEXEC Message and Peterseil et al.’s article on an eLTER Information Management System).

It is evident from these articles that the IM community is a typical LTER community: it encompasses a wide variety of people with different perspectives on how to perform a common task; hence they produce a wide variety of solutions, especially in the US case. All members of our community (US and International collaborators) continue to make efforts to develop ways to produce EML packages with the goal of publishing the data in a data repository of their choice. In the wide spectrum of perspectives on how to achieve this common task, we see that all IMs are working to find the best way to produce good metadata to foster data sharing, synthesis, and sustainability of their system. Most sites have developed systems that best suit their site’s data type and resources (see Walsh’s article on BES Metadata Management Facility). The US LTER’s new partner, EDI, has designed a system to provide scientists with do-it-yourself tools (see Smith’s EML Assembly Line”). The International IM community has developed hybrid systems, including DEIMS (also used as the Information Management System by 6 of the US LTER sites). Two sites (see Kui and OBrien’s article on Postgres) combine the use of R scripts and a relational database to produce EML files.

The US IM community is now facing changes in the way we operate, which brings new challenges. We need to develop plans to collaborate with our new partners (the NCO and EDI) who in turn are delineating strategies for conducting collaborations among members of the scientific community, including IMs, to develop synthesis projects. We want to further develop governance methods to continue our leadership in the field of informatics (see Vanderbilt and Gries’ article on the EDI Initiative and Earl’s Message from the IMEXEC).

Also featured are two articles that assess the duration of US datasets for the LTER Network as a whole, and our present resources to suggest which future endeavors we should target (See Porter’s articles on Visions of the LTER and Durations of LTER Datasets).

It is interesting to notice that early members of the US LTER IMC recommended annual meetings for this group (see Henshaw’s IMC meeting history). It is my opinion that this proved to be the key to success, since it has fostered the development of standards (like EML), use of common vocabularies (data set keywords) which enhance data discovery, and the use of a standard set of units which ultimately facilitates data synthesis.

At present, we have 3 IMC members who have been the site data manager (now called information manager) since the 1980s, and many others that have stayed for more than 10 years (see Henshaw’s article on the History of IMC meetings). The range of years of experience is wide and, in the past few years, the vision of the role of IMs has varied. All this accounts for the richness in solutions as well as conflicting perspectives on the role of an information manager in the LTER world. As one of the 3 “oldest” information managers of this group, I trust that whatever we decide to accomplish in the future as a group will be decided in an environment full of mutual trust and respect, as it has been throughout the past 35 years.

Editor: Eda C. Meléndez-Colom (LUQ); Co-Editors: Donald Henshaw (AND) and Hope Humphries (NWT)

Table of Contents

Featured Articles
The International Long-Term Ecological Research (ILTER) Global NetworkDavid Blankman3
eLTER Information System – A European contribution to share scientific data from long term ecosystem research in EuropeJohannes Peterseil, John Watkins, Vladan Minic, Ralf Kiunkel, Allesandro Oggioni, Christoph Wohner, Barbara Magana, David Ciar, Jürgen Sorg, Michael Mirtl, Vladimir Crnojevic5
The red thread of long-term networked information management re-imagined for LTARNicole Kaplan13
A history of LTER Information Management Committee (IMC) Meetings: venues and participationDon Henshaw15
Baltimore Ecosystem Study Metadata Management FacilityJonathan M. Walsh20
Hello from the BLE LTER Information ManagerTim Whiteaker25
Postgres, EML and R in a data management workflowLi Kui and Margaret O’Brien28
The EML Assembly Line: A Metadata Generation Tool for Data Providers in the Ecological SciencesColin A Smith31
The Environmental Data Initiative – the first 1.5 Years Supporting LTER Information ManagersKristin Vanderbilt and Corinna Gries33
A Message from IMEXEC: Where we have been and where we are goingStevan Earl, Suzanne Remillard, Gastil Buhl, Wade Sheldon, Jason Downing36
A survival kit for the shadows of a natural disasterEda C. Meléndez-Colom37
Duration of LTER DatasetsJohn Porter39
Total Eclipse of the Sun at the Andrews ForestAdam Kennedy, Mark Schulze40
Visions of LTER IM: A Discussion at the 2017 MeetingJohn Porter41
Good Reads
The FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardshipMargaret O’Brien43