Data Management Best Practices Guide

Data Management Guidelines Manual (PDF)

a collection of best practice recommendations for collecting and sharing biogeochemical and ecological oceanographic data and metadata

Executive Summary

The purpose of this document is to provide ocean scientists with a description of "best practices" designed to enable projects to quickly and efficiently make their data publicly available through the auspices of the Biological and Chemical Oceanography Data Management Office. This office was created to serve Principal Investigators (PIs) and other investigators funded by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Biological and Chemical Oceanography Sections as a facility where marine biogeochemical and ecological data and information developed in the course of scientific research can easily be disseminated, protected, and stored for short and intermediate time frames.

The Data Management Office works with principal investigators to get their data online and make them publicly available. In addition, this office will assist the investigators with data quality control, maintaining an inventory and program thesaurus of carefully defined field names, generating metadata (e.g. Directory Interchange Format (DIF)) records required by Federal agencies, and ensure submission of data to national data centers. The BCO-DMO will support and encourage data synthesis by providing new, online Web-based display tools, facilitate interoperability among different data portals, and facilitate regional, national, and international data and information exchange.

In order to effectively serve data collected in the course of field experiments, it is essential that information about the project objectives, course of events in the field during the data acquisition (Cruise Report and Event Log), description of the equipment and sensors used, and protocols that governed the data acquisition and subsequent data processing be provided. Analogous information is needed for laboratory experimental work or modeling projects.

Data from completed projects should be contributed to the BCO-DMO or served from a project’s local machine using the JGOFS/GLOBEC software or compatible software installed on its machine. The data may be contributed in a spreadsheet, in a word processing tabular format, or any computer readable file (except PDF files) in either ASCII or binary format. Supporting documentation (metadata), sufficient to enable others to use the data, should be contributed with the data. See the "Metadata" section of this report for details. Images and video may be contributed in several formats.

For all matters relating to data contribution and accessibility, please contact the Data Management Office at info at