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Improving DataONE’s Search Capabilities Through Controlled Vocabularies

Edizabeth Olson
Elizabeth Olson

Elizabeth Olson is a doctoral student at Northern Illinois University who specializes in geochemistry. Her research focuses on paleoclimate research that utilizes geochemical proxies. Currently she is developing a record of Holocene water availability in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile from the oxygen isotope values of tree rings. She received her master 's degree in Quaternary and Climate Studies at the University of Maine and BA in Geology and Anthropology at the University of Florida.

Project Description: 

NCEAS is currently the host site for a number of critical and compelling environmental, ecological, and conservation/human well-being research topics, all undertaken within a framework of “Synthesis”, using existing data that must be collated, documented, and robustly archived into a DataONE compatible data repository. This project offers a prime opportunity for a DataONE intern to work with data from these synthesis activities and to augment DataONE’s own controlled vocabulary about ecosystem concepts, the “Ecosystems Ontology” (ECSO). ECSO is constructed using World Wide Web standards that enable accessing and associating terms in the vocabulary with features of the data objects found in DataONE. This will enable researchers to improve the precision of their searches, as well as enhance interpretation of the data for re-use in synthesis investigations.

The intern’s work will involve:

  • Identifying relevant “external” vocabularies containing well-constructed terms to use for describing DataONE data, and investigating the best methods for importing/referencing these terms within DataONE’s framework
  • Identifying relevant vocabularies that are not well-constructed, and incorporating these into DataONE’s framework
  • Developing new terms as needed, to augment the library of measurements in DataONE’s ECSO ontology
  • User-testing and feedback of DataONE’s annotation and search tools and features, when archiving Synthesis data products in a DataONE MN.

The outcomes of this internship are intended to be practical, supplementing the catalogue of well-defined measurements available for researchers (and machine-assisted mechanisms) to use for annotation, but also data discovery and interpretation. The numerous ongoing synthesis activities at NCEAS include: Long Term Ecological Research Synthesis Working Groups; Science for Nature and People Partnership Working Groups ; Arctic Data Center Working Groups; and the State of Alaska Salmon and People Working Groups. These efforts collectively provide access to a rich set of heterogeneous environmental data that will be archived in some DataONE MNs. Specific targets of data enrichment and vocabulary development activities will be prioritized and focused through discussion among the Mentors with the various project PI’s.

This project is supported by the Arctic Data Center.

Primary Mentor: 
Mark Schildhauer
Secondary Mentor: 
Julien Brun and Pier Paolo Buttigieg