Monday, 18 April 2011

Today's recipe: Better science through better data management

Data are a key part of the scientific record. A compendium of recipes to make data management digestible has been produced by the Integrated Marine Biogeochemistry and Ecosystem Research (IMBER) Data Management Committee.

Download the IMBER Data Management Cookbook - A Project Guide to good Data practices Adobe PDF version of 'The IMBER Data Management  Cookbook - A Project Guide to good Data practices (2011)' (414 KB).

The Cookbook's 'recipes' are in no way restricted to IMBER. They should be suitable for any marine research project that gathers data and wants them to be available and useful in the long term.

The IMBER Data Management Cookbook. A Project Guide to good Data practices. ©

Stages of data management

The Cookbook describes data management roles and stages including
  • Project planning: early stages
  • Project planning: late stages
  • Cruise planning: before the cruise
  • Cruise planning: during the cruise
  • After the cruise: early stages
  • After the cruise: late stages
What's cooking? Why not data management?!

Why do most researchers consider data management to be the poor relation to writing papers? Perhaps this is because journal publications are used as an indicator of professional productivity, and can be referenced in other publications using a unique code or Digital Object Identifier (DOI).

However, a good quality data set is a more objective legacy as it is not biased by interpretation. It can be reused and compared with other data sets. Yet the creation of a good quality and well documented data set does not currently bring the same official recognition to its author(s).

However, as the Cookbook suggests, this is about to change. A number of working groups are looking into developing well documented procedures so that the same principles of publication and citation can be applied to well managed data.

The Cookbook will help Principal Investigators and collaborators understand what is needed for good data management.


The IMBER Data Management Cookbook - A Project Guide to good Data practices (2011).
Pollard R.T., Moncoiffé G. and O'Brien T.D.
IMBER Report No. 3, IPO Secretariat, Plouzané, France. 16pp.