The Open Data Landscape

While Open Data is not a new concept in science as a whole, it is a relatively untapped commodity within ecology. Accessible data is necessary throughout all stages of research in order to discover and publish new findings. However, the main output of research has until now been published papers. Antica Culina is a Postdoctoral researcher from the Netherlands Institute of Ecology. She has created a guide to the Open Data Landscape with the aim of making collaborative data sharing much easier to access.

Antica’s work looks into how open science practices and tools can be used to make ecological and evolutionary research more efficient, comprehensive, and transparent. She started working on Open Science in Ecology two years ago. A year later the idea for describing the open data landscape and how to navigate it has appeared and has been published in Nature Ecology and Evolution.

What is the Open Data Landscape?

Open Data usually refers simply to data that is available online. It needs to be available for anyone to use and also easy to find otherwise no one uses them. This has been an issue for ecologists in the past. The data is stored at different locations such as data repositories, supplements of publications etc, thus the term ‘landscape’.

How could the Open Data Landscape change research?

As mentioned previously, the main output of research before was a published paper. A researcher was then evaluated based on this. However, the research paper is just the tip of the iceberg. Before a paper is published, extensive work and scientific output is produced first. Included in the work output is the data used to generate the results. The aim of the open data landscape is to create a platform to expose all of the research and regard each stage as as valuable as the finished product. The open data landscape will make all of the output research available to anyone. This should make for more robust, comprehensive and collaborative research.

Figure 1
The Open Data Landscape

What are the benefits of the Open Data Landscape?

Open Data in Ecology and Evolution has amazing potential. They are complex and require information from other fields such as earth sciences and social sciences. We currently face many global challenges, and at the Crowther Lab we focus heavily on climate change. Having quick and easy access to data collected at different places and at different time points will allow our researchers at the lab to obtain a better understanding of the processes involved. This will hopefully increase our ability to combat climate change.

This is a revolutionary time for all sciences.” Antica Culina

Antica Culina of the Netherlands Institute of Ecology

How has the response been so far?

“Enthusiastic. This is a revolutionary era for Ecology and Evolutionary disciplines, and many people are excited to participate at this turning point. This brings many challenges, including fighting previous research norms, but eventually it is extremely rewarding (and in my opinion, fun), and majority of researchers recognize this.

Read more about the Open Data Landscape here.

To access the open data catalogue, follow this link.

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