Special Committee on Data Archiving and Sharing: Report

The ESA Special Committee on Data Archiving and Sharing was established by ESA Past-President Gordon Orians in January 1996. The principal objectives of this committee are:

The opportunity for the latter came about principally because of an NSF grant to the University of California, San Diego (John Helly, P.I.) to establish a data archive for environmental and taxonomic data. This committee also acts as an oversight/steering committee for the UCSD project. Steward Pickett was the first chair of this committee; Aaron Ellison succeeded him in December 1996.

The Committee held its first formal meeting/workshop on February 22-23, 1997, at NCEAS in Santa Barbara. Out of this meeting emerged a set of action items that the committee has been working on since then:

1. Prototype archive

We will produce by August 1997 a prototype for an ESA-sponsored data archive. This will expand on the existing NSF-supported project to develop a web-based data management system for ecological data that John Helly is heading up. Six types of datasets should be available in this prototype:

2. Peer-reviewed archive

We presented a proposal to the ESA Publications Committee for peer-reviewed archive for data and metadata associated with publications in the ESA journals. Although the final details of implementation are yet to be worked out, Bob Peet and Lou Pitelka (Editors-in-Chief of the ESA journals) and the Publications Committee have begun the process of creating this archive. Aaron Ellison will be appointed to a special position on the board of editors to oversee the implementation of this archive.

We issued a narrowly-targeted 'call for contributed datasets' through ecolog-l, esanews, and the July ESA bulletin. Dick Olson and Aaron Ellison will work on this call for datasets.

3. Intellectual property rights

Kerry Woods has prepared a draft 'brief' on intellectual property rights issues and license agreement issues that will need to be assessed by ESA working with legal council.

4. Data archiving policy statement:

We are working to produce a consensus 'policy statement' that ESA can consider adopting regarding archiving and sharing of ecological data. This could be modeled on the US Global Change Research Program's 'Policy Statements on Data Management for Global Change Research' (DOE/EP-0001P; available from NSF's Global Change Research Program Office).

5. Future meetings: The Committee met for two hours at the ESA meeting to review the archive prototype and to set an agenda for a full fall meeting at NCEAS. The committee will meet next on September 20-21 at NCEAS; Bob Peet will also attend this meeting to further discussions and implementation of the peer-reviewed archive associated with ESA journals.

Aaron M. Ellison
Chair, Special Committee on Data Archiving and Sharing