SILS Doctoral Student, Sarah Ramdeen, Wins an American Geophysical Union Award

January 8, 2014

Sarah RamdeenSarah Ramdeen, doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Information and Library Science (SILS) is the winner of an outstanding student presentation award at the American Geophysical Union fall 2013 meeting.

The poster which is titled, “Connecting Data Stakeholders for a Long-term Vision of Data Stewardship,” was part of the Earth & Space Science Informatics section.

Earth science data collections range from individual researchers’ private collections to large-scale data warehouses, from computer-generated data to field or lab based observations. These collections require stewardship. Fundamentally, stewardship ensures long term preservation and the provision of access to the user community. In particular, stewardship includes capturing appropriate metadata and documentation--and thus the context of the data’s creation and any changes they underwent over time -- to enable data reuse. But scientists and science data managers must translate these ideas into practice. How does one balance the needs of current and (projected) future stakeholders?

In 2011, the Data Stewardship Committee (DSC) of the Federation of Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) began developing the Provenance and Context Content Standard (PCCS). As an emerging standard, PCCS provides a framework for 'what' must be captured or preserved as opposed to describing only 'how' it should be done. Originally based on the experiences of NASA and NOAA researchers within ESIP, the standard currently provides data managers with content items aligned to eight key categories. While the categories and content items are based on data life cycles of remote sensing missions, they can be generalized to cover a broader set of activities, for example, preservation of physical objects. These categories will include the information needed to ensure the long-term understandability and usability of earth science data products.

In addition to the PCCS, the DSC is developing a series of use cases based on the perspectives of the data archiver, data user and the data consumer that will connect theory and practice. These cases will act as specifications for developing PCCS-based systems. They will also provide for examination of the categories and content items covered in the PCCS to determine if any additions are needed to cover the various use cases, and also provide rationale and indicate priorities for preservation. Though the use cases currently focus on two areas, 'creating' a data set and 'using' a data set, the use cases will eventually cover the full data lifecycle. Currently developing a template to be used in future use case creation, the DSC is also preparing and testing more use case scenarios.

Ramdeen’s presentation introduced the ESIP use cases based on the PCCS. It at once expands stakeholder participation and show the application of these materials beyond the ESIP community in which they were developed. More information about the ESIP use case activities can be found on the DSC wiki -

Ramdeen presented the initial thoughts for her poster during SILS Research Day in November 2013 and she received valuable comments that assisted her presentation. 

“The feedback I received from the faculty present was very helpful in transforming my draft in to this final version,” said Ramdeen.  "So I wanted to share in order to say thanks. This is why I think Research Day is so important.”