Open Data

WMRC Data Sharing Policy

Background: In addition to capturing scholarly publications produced at the station, WMRC has a policy of registering datasets produced in the course of research and monitoring activities at the station. As with the publications list, the chief purpose of the WMRC dataset registration policy is to build the knowledge base for the station and make scientific contributions easily available to other investigators. WMRC also encourages investigators to archive their datasets at the station. These datasets can be shared openly or with access restrictions, as determined by the investigator or the granting agency that is funding the research. They can also be made widely available by serving them on the WMRC web site.

The WMRC Data Sharing Policy derives from:

  • the usual and customary practices of public academic institutions to promote dissemination of scholarly information
  • WMRC’s founding membership (1991)in the Eastern Sierra Land Information Network, a regional group of agencies committed to data sharing
  • WMRC’s creation and ongoing sponsorship of Eastern Sierra nodes in the data clearinghouses of the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII)and Federal Geographic Data Committee.
  • policies and procedures developed by the Organization of Biological Field Stations (OBFS), the University of California Natural Reserve System (NRS), the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network Office, and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS)
  • legal requirements, e.g. funding conditions from government agencies.

Guideline for determining what types of data are appropriate for registration and sharing. A dataset is appropriate for sharing if it has significant value. Examples include (but are not limited to):

  • a long term record
  • a baseline from which change can be measured
  • data which is of general interest, such as meteorological data
  • data which has significant value in supporting scholarly publications or other scientific contributions
  • data which may be useful to future investigators
  • data which may eventually have historical interest

Required Metadata Registry Procedure:
Whenever you create an appropriate dataset from work you do in association with WMRC, you must fill out a metadata form online at the OBFS data registry website:

This form requests the following types of information about the dataset, including:

  • name of the station at which the work was done (normally WMRC)
  • title of the dataset
  • your name
  • your mailing address
  • your e-mail address
  • abstract (500 words maximum)
  • keywords
  • temporal/spatial coverage of your data (lat/long coordinates are needed).

If your work involves ongoing, multi-year studies, please submit your metadata database entry at the end of the second year of your investigations and at two year intervals, and finally when you complete the study. Failure to deposit Metadata information as requested may lead to denial of future Use Applications.

Data archiving and sharing. WMRC also has the capability of archiving and serving many kinds of datasets. The WMRC library can accept maps, manuscripts, and other hard-copy types of data, and the computer lab will accept appropriate digital data within the capacity of the system. Access to datasets can be limited according to the needs of the originator and the rules of the agency that funded the research. However, after a limited period of time, normally 5 years, such restrictions will automatically be lifted unless a special agreement is negotiated with the station. If appropriate, datasets can be served on a web site with links from the WMRC web pages. Submission of datasets to the station is normally optional. In the case of particularly valuable data, submission may be required as a condition of using the station, as negotiated on an individual basis.

Data format suggested guidelines. Since software formats change rapidly over the years, we recommend that data be backed up in the simplest standard format possible. For example, data spreadsheets can be saved in “text and tabs” or “comma delimited” text format, plain text documents can be saved in “text” or “rtf” format, and documents with graphics can be saved in “html” format with “jpeg” or “gif” graphic formats. These formats all have a high probability of being readable 50 years from now. We recommend consulting with the WMRC data manager if your data cannot be expressed in one of these formats.

Project Renewal Policies WMRC researchers are asked to reapply each year to work at the station. At this time we also ask them to list the titles of datasets produced in association with WMRC and to register them as outlined above. This is also a good time to open the registry and edit/update the records for ongoing datasets. Projects will not be automatically renewed unless this is done.

Assistance If you have questions of otherwise need assistance, please contact the WMRC data manager at 760-873-4344 ext. 28, or email: