Easily accessible scientific data helps to foster worldwide collaboration between researchers. The Data Management Center at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab is doing its part to preserve the data behind DISL research, and support future collaborative efforts. 

"When documented correctly, the data will be good for future data usability and synthesis," Data Manager Lei Hu explained.

Hu, along with Data Management Specialist Mimi Tzeng, oversee the organization and management of the datasets of DISL researchers. Hu and Tzeng collaborate closely with NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) to train personnel, publish metadata on national clearinghouses, and archive datasets at federal data centers. 

Datasets generated and archived at DISL can be searched in DISL's publicly available online metadata catalog. Each metadata record in the catalog describes the who, what, when, where, why, and how of each dataset. This helps a user to discern which data is best suited to their current project. 

"The Ecosystems Lab utilizes the data management center to give collaborators and other users easy and immediate access to available project data," Josh Goff with Dr. Just Cebrian's lab said. "Dr. Cebrian has posted several data sets since his start at DISL, recognizing that the rapid growth of technology means that data availability is key in addressing the numerous questions we face locally and globally."  

Along with documenting and preserving the datasets,  Tzeng facilitates metadata training for students, researchers, and policymakers, and coordinates a workshop on DISL's campus each year. The workshop is primarily intended for DISL's research personnel, but anyone in the Gulf Coast region with an interest in science metadata is welcome to attend. . 

"A dataset is only as useful as how well-described it is in its metadata," Tzeng said. "We aim to ensure that DISL's research personnel are well-trained on how to write metadata for their datasets so that outside researchers can easily find, use, and build upon their work."

Learn about the Data Management Center, metadata training, and more at disl.org/research/data-management-center.