Colorado mountains

Leaving a data legacy: Data management training at the KBS LTER

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Lauren Kinsman
Suzanne Sippel
Sven Bohm

The KBS LTER has well-established data management infrastructure in place, yet many researchers still do not submit data to the KBS LTER Data Catalog for archiving and sharing. When they do, researchers often submit data in formats that need to be substantially re-organized before they can be included in the LTER database, and metadata information is usually obtained when information managers meet individually with and interview data collectors.  It is much easier and more efficient to design spreadsheets and keep track of metadata early on in the data collection process than at the end. 

In general, the notion, whether conscious or not, is that data is being collected and documented only for the researcher collecting the data.  To maximize use of information resources, this focus needs to shift to one of documenting data in a way that will be useable to all. Graduate students, especially, are often unfamiliar with data management strategies that will make their data more useful both to themselves in the future and to others.  KBS LTER Capstone Fellow Lauren Kinsman-Costello and KBS information managers Sven Bohm and Suzanne Sippel developed a training module aimed at graduate and undergraduate KBS LTER researchers (but open to all interested) to introduce simple data management strategies with the ultimate goal of increasing graduate student data submission to the LTER database. 

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Background Photo by: Nicole Hansen - Jornada (JRN) LTER