Environmental voluntary groups: Towards curating data for sharing, access and preservation

Earlier in the month (November 1-6, 2013) I attended the ASIST Annual Meeting in Montreal – Beyond the Cloud: Rethinking Information Boundaries. The conference was an interesting one, with papers from many different branches of librarianship and information science. The papers are now available online. During the conference, I had the opportunity to present work that is part of a project conducted with Kirsty Williamson and Graeme Johanson titled Environmental voluntary groups: Towards curating datafor sharing, access and preservation .Full text is available here.

The project investigated data collected by members of an environmental voluntary group (EVG) and how their data were collected, stored, managed and shared. The aim was to understand how data management and approaches to data sharing could be improved in order to enhance the contributions of EVGs to research and to science more broadly while also continuing to meet individual and group needs. Interviews were conducted with members of the Australian Plants Society Victoria (ASPV) using a broadly ethnographic approach. Findings indicate that APSV members have a strong interest in conservation biodiversity, and in increasing their own, and society’s knowledge and understanding, passions often shared with professional scientists. Yet their data are often poorly managed, creating significant impediments to sharing. The paper explores the major issues of data management and sharing and the resulting impediments to data sharing and information communication. Options for improvement are explored, especially ways to inspire and empower APSV members with skills and technology to contribute to major data repositories so that their valuable data may be preserved and made accessible beyond their immediate Society co-members.

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