Independent Research at SuperSites
As well as supporting standardised physical instrumentation and ecological monitoring, the TERN SuperSites infrastructure are field stations where researchers are encouraged to carry out independent research in a well set up environment with substantial open access background data. Many sites also offer accommodation, storage and other facilities for wider use by educators and researchers.
Once researchers have completed their studies and journal publications have been completed, these researchers are encouraged to publish their SuperSite related data with TERN data repositories, under licences of their choice, building up the library of ancillary data. The TERN SuperSites database allows automatic harvesting of metadata records to both the TERN central data facility (Data Discovery Portal) and to the Australian National Data System.
Ancillary TERN Data collected at SuperSites
Data is collected from TERN SuperSites locations by a range of TERN Facilities (OzFlux, AusCover, AusPlots, LTERN, ATN) that maintain, through necessity, their own specialised databases. Links to these facility data portals are provided on individual SuperSite “Learn more” web pages, with any plot identity details provided. Further data can also be identified through the TERN Data Discovery Portal [link to: http://portal.tern.org.au/] and TERN Aekos [link to: http://www.aekos.org.au/].
TERN SuperSites Data Portal
The TERN SuperSites repository can be accessed at http://www.supersites.net.au/knb/.
This section contains more information on how to use the repository and to submit research data to the repository.
All metadata can be searched using the web interface at http://www.supersites.net.au/knb/. Data files with unrestricted 'read' settings can be downloaded directly from the web interface.
The repository stores copies of the data as instructed by the individual researchers. Researchers also have the ability to restrict access to authorised users.
Preparing the data
Data for some instruments or experiments follow pre-defined international standards while others do not. However, the repository is a general-purpose catalogue and storage space for environmental data. It, therefore, does not require (or enforce) particular data standards.
It is left to the discretion of the researcher to be aware of existing standards and determine and ensure that their data is compliant with the relevant standards before the data are uploaded to the repository.
Any standards used to prepare and format the data should be fully described in the package's metadata record. The researcher is encouraged to inspect the available data packages in the repository as a guide on how to prepare data and add a metadata record.
Preparing a data package
A single data package usually has several dimensions: spatial coverage, temporal coverage, experimental and site parameters and so on. Some of these dimensions are 'one-off' data tables, whereas others are data tables that are constantly being updated.
It is recommended that the data are broken down into separate tables according to the relevant dimensions. For example, data collected on a daily basis might be stored in daily, weekly, monthly or yearly files. Data that covers multiple sites might be stored in site-specific files and so on.
Each data file ought to have sufficient metadata to be fully described without reference to any other data files in the package. So, for example, metadata describing columns in the 2009 data file ought not to make reference to the 2008 data file etc.
It is recommended that each data file contains a single data table (ideally in CSV format).
Using text files allows the data to be machine-readable. Morpho, the data entry software, is able to automatically extract table headings and values from text files. It will also assist in defining measurement units and adding descriptions (metadata) to the dataset. Nevertheless, the software can also handle non-tabular and non-textual data such as Word documents and multimedia files.
When uploaded data are the result of a particular algorithmic process (either computer-assisted or manual), the researcher is encouraged to also include the relevant algorithm in the metadata record or in a separate file. The aim is to provide others enough information to understand how the data was obtained.
Selecting a licence
Researchers are able to indicate a specific licence to their data package.
Where a licence is not selected the licence will default to the TERN Attribution-Share Alike Licence v1.0
Researchers submitting data must have the appropriate rights to submit data (ownership or permission from the owner).