The WISER metadatabase: the key to more than 100 ecological datasets from European rivers, lakes and coastal waters
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In ecological sciences, the role of metadata (i.e. key information about a dataset) to make existing datasets visible and discoverable has become increasingly important. Within the EU-funded WISER project (Water bodies in Europe: Integrative Systems to assess Ecological status and Recovery), we designed a metadatabase to allow scientists to find the optimal data for their analyses. An online questionnaire helped to collect metadata from the data providers and an online query tool (http://www.wiser.eu/results/meta-database/) facilitated data evaluation. The WISER metadatabase currently holds information on 114 datasets (22 river, 71 lake, 1 general freshwater and 20 coastal/transitional datasets), which also can be accessed by external scientists. We evaluate if generally used metadata standards (e.g. Darwin Core, ISO 19115, CSDGM, EML) are suitable for such specific purposes as WISER and suggest at least the linkage with standard metadata fields. Furthermore, we discuss whether the simple metadata documentation is enough for others to reuse a dataset and why there is still reluctance to publish both metadata and primary research data (i.e. time and financial constraints, misuse of data, abandoning intellectual property rights). We emphasise that metadata publication has major advantages as it makes datasets detectable by other scientists and generally makes a scientist’s work more visible.
KeywordsAquatic metadata Ecological databases Online query tool Data accessibility Intellectual property rights Water Framework Directive
We want to thank Jan Karud and Roar Brænden for their help with the initial development of the metadatabase. Furthermore, we are grateful to all WISER partners for contributing metadata. Thanks to Daniel Hering for coordinating the project and for valuable help during the metadatabase development and manuscript writing. We further want to thank Aaike De Wever for fruitful discussions and two anonymous reviewers for their comments. The WISER project was funded by the European Union under the 7th Framework Programme, Theme 6 (Environment including Climate Change), Contract No. 226273.
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