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EarthCube Project: Connecting the Many Dimensions of Geoscience Research Data with VIVO

Winchester, MA  Being able to discover data and understand the connections among earth and atmospheric field experiments, research teams, datasets, research instruments, and published findings is a key objective of the U.S. National Science Foundation’s EarthCube Project program ( To reach this goal, linked and open data principles are being used to adapt the VIVO semantic web platform so that it can be applied to large-scale field experiments involving many investigators from multiple institutions. The Project is being developed by a partnership of institutions: the NCAR/UCAR Library and the Earth Observing Laboratory within the National Center for Atmospheric Research/University Corporation for Atmospheric Research; Cornell University Library, and; UNAVCO, a non-profit university-governed consortium that facilitates geoscience research and education using Geodesy. The two-year project entitled “Enabling Scientific Collaboration and Discovery through Semantic Connections” is funded by EarthCube which supports transformative approaches to data management across the geosciences.

VIVO is a tool that connects heterogeneous information through a single linked data point, like a person, to create a traceable path through a data system. Using VIVO, researchers can see what the connections are between organizations through many entry points. EarthCube will provide an operational example for how the VIVO networked-based data model can serve as a middle layer between technology and data stores that support large-scale, virtual organizations.

Mary Marlino, NCAR/UCAR Library Director, is excited about implementing a model for a large-scale VIVO-based linked and open data system with EarthCube. “International scientific research campaigns can involve hundreds of researchers from many different countries across many institutions. Research results are often “siloed” in a field’s journal instead of being shared widely across an entire campaign. Associated ethnographic and anthropological details are missed because data connections between aspects of the campaign do not exist. VIVO is interesting because it can map and connect the many facets of research campaigns together. This is a model for how science is conducted in the 21st century,” she said.

EarthCube will create a rich network of information, linking field experiments with particular datasets, authors, publications, and even research tools that result from, or are associated with each experiment. VIVO will use data from two sources: a recent interdisciplinary field program whose data archive is hosted by NCAR’s Earth Observing Laboratory (the Bering Sea Project), and a set of diverse research projects informed by geodetic tools, such as GPS networks and ground-based imaging, that are operated and maintained by UNAVCO.

“We envision supporting the geoscience community in terms of their real, on-the-ground data needs. EarthCube is building integrated geoscience and technology collaborations that will help evolve methods for research data collection, preservation and re-use across scientific disciplines,” explained Matthew Mayernik, who is the principal investigator on the EarthCube project and a research data services specialist in the NCAR/UCAR Library. “Making connections between different types of resources within and across data facilities will help researchers to discover and use the heterogeneous information collections that are emerging in all research fields.”

Initial data for this project will come from the NCAR Earth Observing Lab and UNAVCO data and metadata collections. Data about publications and people will come from other sources. The project also plans to develop sharing protocols for both pulling and pushing data across the VIVO network to take advantage of the growing VIVO community, reduce information duplication across instances, and allow users to see connections between people and organizations that exist across VIVO instances.

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