Missouri Botanical Garden Open Conference Systems, TDWG 2016 ANNUAL CONFERENCE

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The Digital Object Lifecycle of Paleo Data: Concepts of Digital Curation in a Natural History Context
Holly Little

Building: CTEC
Room: Auditorium
Date: 2016-12-07 09:45 AM – 10:00 AM
Last modified: 2016-10-16


Paleontological data presents many challenges. It can often be difficult to maintain best practices, follow established standards and methodologies, and ensure data quality over time.  At the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History (NMNH) Department of Paleobiology, we are developing a comprehensive program for understanding and managing the full digital object lifecycle of our collections and research data. Following the tools and resources developed by the digital curation field, we are able to complete a comprehensive analysis of our digital data and all of its characteristics. This analysis follows a digital object, or paleontological collections record in this case, from the point of creation, whether through transformation from analog or as born digital, through submission to repository and preservation systems, and then as an output of interoperable information disseminated for consumption by a variety of audiences through many access points. An added complexity is the inherently cyclical nature of biodiversity data, requiring additional consideration for the continuous distribution, analysis and enhancement, resubmission, and redistribution over time. By defining the actions, roles, characteristics, and standards needed at each step in the lifecycle we build the capacity to fully comprehend our data. Therefore we increase our ability to enhance standards, workflows, policies, and ultimately longterm data quality and data management. This comprehensive definition of paleontological data also enables more in depth discussion at the global biodiversity informatics level, contributing to conversations about the current standards, data needs, and data usage, and to needed discussions about ways of improving the comprehensiveness and interoperability of paleontological data across institutions and data sources. This talk will cover the efforts and progress made thus far by the NMNH Department of Paleobiology and invite discussion from others undertaking similar studies or interested in collaborating on the global applications of these concepts.