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Enriching the Notion of Data Curation in E-Science: Data Managing and Information Infrastructuring in the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network


This paper aims to enrich the current understanding of data curation prevalent in e-Science by drawing on an ethnographic study of one of the longest-running efforts at long-term consistent data collection with open data sharing in an environment of interdisciplinary collaboration. In such a context we identify a set of salient characteristics of ecological research and data that shape the data stewardship approach of the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) network. We describe the actual practices through which LTER information managers attend to the extended temporal scale of long-term research and data sets both through data care work and information infrastructure development. We discuss the issues of long-term and continuity that represent central challenges for data curation and stewardship. We argue for more efforts to be directed to understanding what is at stake with a long-term perspective and differing temporal scales as well as to studying actual practices of data curation and stewardship in order to provide more coherent understandings of e-Science solutions and technologies.

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This work is partially supported by an NSF/SBE/SES Human Social Dynamics grant #04-33369. The work is conducted in collaboration with the LTER community (NSF/OCE #04-17616, NSF/OPP #02-17282 and #04-05069). The fieldwork was conducted in 2002, and we offer our special thanks to Geoffrey C. Bowker for collaboration in the BDEI project (NSF/DGO #EIA-01-31958). Furthermore, we thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments.

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Correspondence to Helena Karasti.

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Karasti, H., Baker, K.S. & Halkola, E. Enriching the Notion of Data Curation in E-Science: Data Managing and Information Infrastructuring in the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network. Comput Supported Coop Work 15, 321–358 (2006).

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  • cyberinfrastructure
  • data stewardship
  • information management
  • ecology
  • long-term perspective
  • scientific collaboration