Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

About BCO-DMO:

  1. What is BCO-DMO?
  2. Who funds BCO-DMO?
  3. Who are the people in BCO-DMO?
  4. How do I contact BCO-DMO?
  5. How do you pronounce BCO-DMO?

Data Management Plans:

  1. What are NSF’s requirements for data management?
  2. What is NSF's data management plan?

Data Contribution and Access:

  1. How do I get started?
  2. When should I contact BCO-DMO?
  3. What types of data can BCO-DMO manage?
  4. What data formats can BCO-DMO accept?
  5. Does BCO-DMO have any guidelines for submitting data as a spreadsheet?
  6. My data are online already. Do I need to send my data to BCO-DMO too?
  7. Must data contributors send their data to BCO-DMO to have them accessible?
  8. How can I submit large data files to BCO-DMO?
  9. How much metadata is necessary?
  10. Can my project get free help from BCO-DMO to manage my data?
  11. What can I do to make the management of my data easier?
  12. If I need data management help, who should I call at BCO-DMO?
  13. What formats are available for downloading data from BCO-DMO?
  14. How can the data that BCO-DMO manages be accessed?
  15. How can I cite datasets accessible via BCO-DMO in the literature?
  16. Where does BCO-DMO archive the data?

Other:

  1. Are there parallel DMO's for physical and geological oceanography?
  2. How do I request the R2R event log capability on my upcoming cruise on a UNOLS vessel?
  3. What is the JGOFS/GLOBEC data management system?

Answers:

What is BCO-DMO?

BCO-DMO is the Biological and Chemical Oceanography Data Management Office. We help oceanography researchers who are funded by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF's) Division of Ocean Sciences' (OCE) Biological or Chemical Oceanography Sections or the Division of Polar Programs' Antarctic Organisms & Ecosystems Program manage their data, making them accessible over the internet.

Who funds BCO-DMO?

BCO-DMO is primarily funded by an NSF grant (OCE-1031253).

Who are the people in BCO-DMO?

BCO-DMO is made up of people with a very strong interest in making your data useful to you and to others. We have many decades of experience (some of us are older than we look) managing data from many areas including biology, geochemistry, geology, and physical oceanography.

How do I contact BCO-DMO?

The best way to contact BCO-DMO is to send an email to info@bco-dmo.org. You may also contact a particular person.

How do you pronounce BCO-DMO?

Bee Co Dee Mo

What are NSF’s requirements for data management?

NSF has a well-defined data management policy. The one sentence summary of their requirement is that data collected by researchers funded by them must be made publically available, usually no later than two years after the data are collected or produced. There are some exceptions and the details are available at NSF. BCO-DMO has some guidelines about preparing NSF Data Management Plans (DMPs), including a DMP Template.

What is NSF's data management plan?

Every proposal to NSF must include a Data Management Plan (DMP), no longer than two pages, which includes information about how the results of the proposed research will be made available and accessible to the public in a timely manner. BCO-DMO has some guidelines for investigators working on their data management plan, including a template.

How do I get started?

Once you have your NSF award number, it is a good time to get started by contacting us. The How to Get Started guide gives you the details, but the first step is just to let us know that you want BCO-DMO to work with you and you can do that by sending us an email. There are also resources at BCO-DMO that can help you even as you are preparing your proposal: please see information about NSF's data management plan and help in planning your data collection effort.

When should I contact BCO-DMO?

There are resources at BCO-DMO that can help you with NSF's data management plan as well as in planning your data collection effort. However, you can wait until you receive your NSF award and know your award number before you contact us. We can collect much of the preliminary metadata about your project directly from the NSF web site.

What types of data can BCO-DMO manage?

BCO-DMO can deal with a wide variety of data, including but not limited to biological, chemical and physical oceanography measurements and experimental and model results. We routinely deal with CTD, biological abundance, meteorological, nutrient, pH, carbonate, PAR, sea surface temperature, heat and momentum flux, sediment composition, trace metals, primary production, and pigment concentration measurements, and with images and movies. While sequence data should be sent to GenBank, sequence accession numbers and the associated environmental data can be contributed to BCO-DMO and we can provide the links to the sequence repository. This ensures that the data are discoverable from BCO-DMO's website. Please see "Contributing Sequence Accession Numbers" for more information.

What data formats can BCO-DMO accept?

Usually, measurements come to BCO-DMO as ASCII or spreadsheet files. However, we try to be flexible and are willing to work with whatever reasonably organized format the investigator uses. We have some suggestions for what formats are easier to work with, but these are only suggestions, not requirements.

Does BCO-DMO have any guidelines for submitting data as a spreadsheet?

Yes, we do. Please review our Submitting Data in a Spreadsheet document for some guidelines.

My data are online already. Do I need to send my data to BCO-DMO too?

BCO-DMO does not want to 'step on the toes' of other data assembly centers (DAC), so if the data are accessible from a recognized DAC (like the LTER network office) and the DAC or the scientist takes responsibility to ensure the data are properly archived at a recognized national archive, we believe the NSF guidelines/requirements are met. However, providing access via a project- or program-specific website is not likely to be sufficient because these types of websites usually do not have the funding to provide the longer term data and metadata access implied by the requirements.

It is important that the data be managed in such a way that they are discoverable and reusable by others. This means that there is sufficient metadata to support proper data reuse and that the actual data, not just resulting graphs, are accessible. Although your data may already be online, there may still be value in having BCO-DMO involved if the dataset is of interest to scientists using BCO-DMO and there is benefit in having these data accessible directly from BCO-DMO.

Must data contributors send their data to BCO-DMO to have them accessible?

No. BCO-DMO uses a distributed data management system called JGOFS/GLOBEC that supports distributed data servers. As long as your data can be placed on a Linux or Unix based machine that has a web site, your data can remain on your machine. The approach has the advantage of always serving the most up to date and accurate version of the data.

How can I submit large data files to BCO-DMO?

For large volumes of data we suggest using Dropbox. Please see https://www.dropbox.com/.  If you don't have your own Dropbox account, a BCO-DMO Data Manager will set up a folder for you and send you a URL that will allow you to upload your data into our Dropbox using your browser. Another option is to make the files available online (ftp, Google Drive, etc.) and let us know how to get them.  If you still have questions, please contact us for alternative approaches.

How much metadata is necessary?

The information contained in the metadata should be sufficient to allow another researcher to make use of your data, and, in a sense, to be able to recreate it. For example, it should include the sources of your data (names of the instruments or software model(s) used), how you processed these data, and how they were analyzed. If you have this information contained in a paper, you can duplicate it for the metadata. By all means, include the reference to this paper too in your metadata. Names of the field names (columns) and their units should be described completely.

Can my project get free help from BCO-DMO to manage my data?

BCO-DMO is funded to work with researchers funded by the NSF Geosciences Directorate's Division of Ocean Sciences' Biological and Chemical Oceanography Sections and the Division of Polar Programs' Antarctic Organisms & Ecosystems Program. We have some latitude in working with researchers outside of these sections and would be happy to learn more about your project to see if BCO-DMO should be involved.

What can I do to make the management of my data easier?

We are glad you asked! Please read our Data Management Best Practices Guide.

If I need data management help, who should I call at BCO-DMO?

You can send an email to info@bco-dmo.org or contact a particular person.

What formats are available for downloading data from BCO-DMO?

Data can be downloaded from BCO-DMO as tab-, comma-, and space-separated ASCII files, Matlab binary files, netCDF format (if the data are amenable to this format), and ODV format (if the data are amenable to this format). Data can also be accessed using Open Geospatial Consortium’s (OGC) Web Mapping Service (WMS) and Web Feature Service (WFS) through our MapServer interface. For more information on finding and downloading data using the BCO-DMO data system, please refer to our Data Access Tutorial (PDF).

How can the data that BCO-DMO manages be accessed?

Any standard web browser including Firefox, Chrome, Safari, as well as Internet Explorer can access data managed by BCO-DMO. We provide both text based and geospatial access. For more information on finding and downloading data using the BCO-DMO data system, please refer to our Data Access Tutorial (PDF).

How can I cite datasets accessible via BCO-DMO in the literature?

Please refer to our citation recommendations and usage guidelines.

Where does BCO-DMO archive the data?

Most of the data BCO-DMO manages is archived at NCEI.

Are there parallel DMO's for physical and geological oceanography?

How do I request the R2R eventlog capability on my upcoming cruise on a UNOLS vessel?

To request the R2R eventlog capability on your cruise, use the ELOG request form at http://www.rvdata.us/contact/elog.

What is the JGOFS/GLOBEC data management system?

The JGOFS/GLOBEC data management system provides the primary means of accessing the online data managed by BCO-DMO.