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How Institutional Factors Influence the Creation of Scientific Metadata

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Spring 2012

M Mayernik, A Batcheller, and C Borgman, 2011. How Institutional Factors Influence the Creation of Scientific Metadata. iConference 2011 proceedings (, ISBN: 978-1-4503-0121-3.

This good read introduces the concept of institutional frictions relating to creating and managing scientific metadata. The author’s compare institutional metadata frictions documented at 3 research networks; the Center for Embedded Networked Sensing, the Earth Sensor Grid, and the Long-Term Ecological Research network. The authors discuss the 3 research networks and demonstrate the types of metadata frictions encountered by each network, which include frictions related to metadata standardization, available time, data sharing, and lack of human resources. The paper has been valuable in framing discussions at the Jornada related to metadata creation and management and its relevance to site and network research activities.

Paper abstract:

Access to high volumes of digital data offer researchers in all disciplines the possibility to ask new kinds of questions using computational methods. Burgeoning digital data collections, however, challenge established data management and analysis methods. Data management is a multi-pronged institutionalized effort, spanning technology, policies, metadata, and everyday data practices. In this paper, we focus on the last two components: metadata and everyday data practices. We demonstrate how "frictions" arise in creating and managing metadata. These include standardization frictions, temporal frictions, data sharing frictions, and frictions related to the availability of human support. Through an illustration of these frictions in case studies of three large, distributed, collaborative science projects, we show how the degree of metadata institutionalization can strongly influence data management needs and practices.