Spring 2016 – Frequently Asked Questions by Dr. Chuck Wilson

(From Spring 2016 Newsletter) Chief Scientific Officer for the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) answers a few frequently asked questions about GoMRI’s data management system, GRIIDC (Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative Information and Data Cooperative).

Question: The keynote address of the 2016 Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science conference highlighted the importance of data sharing and transparency. How is GRIIDC working to achieve this?

Answer: BP and the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, on behalf of the Gulf states, established a Master Research Agreement (MRA) that guides GoMRI. The MRA requires that all data collected under GoMRI-funded research be made publicly available “as soon as possible.” Thus, the GoMRI Research Board established a contractual obligation with all awardees that GoMRI-generated research data be “submitted to GRIIDC and/or an appropriate national data archive at the time of publication or within one year of collection.” GoMRI funds GRIIDC to facilitate the logical and systematic description and transfer of data from various sources into a central storage, discovery, and access system. This process includes development of appropriate metadata descriptions of specific data sets and assigns Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) to distinguish each data set. Data stored in a system like GRIIDC allows others   to search and discover the data and create maps to visualize data location. Preservation of data in the GRIIDC system ensures long-term data availability for future use.

Question: The importance of data citation is frequently mentioned related to this topic; why is this so important for data sharing and transparency?

Answer: Science is an iterative process that builds on research results embodied in scientific publications. All research publications cite prior studies that the authors reference. Computer technology and rapid access to digital data have promoted a strong movement in the scientific journal world to include data links that support published findings. Additionally, most government agencies now require that data generated with federal dollars be publicly available to meet the Congressionally-driven White House mandate for transparency of federally funded activities. Many data sets can be extremely large, so scientists cite DOIs that point to the data’s virtual location used in their publications, preserving those data and making them available for future scientific analyses and replication.

Question: What are GRIIDC’s goals beyond serving as an archive of data collected during the GoMRI program?

Answer: The GRIIDC data management system provides researchers with tools and advice to help manage data throughout a project’s lifecycle. There are clear standards and national data portals for the oceanographic

and genomics communities. However, the chemical, biological and social sciences communities do not have well- established standards or national data archives. GRIIDC offers a scientifically diverse and easy to use program for data storage, curation, and archival systems. In addition, the GRIIDC team provides scientists with terminology that promotes consistency, and they assist with metadata consistency, simplifying data access and comparison.

Question: What makes GRIIDC different from other data repositories that currently exist?

Answer: GRIIDC offers a one-stop shop for different data types whereas other repositories tend to be discipline specific. In addition, GRIIDC offers personal guidance

[Back to the Spring 2016 Newsletter]