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Scientific Data at the AGU Meeting

Posted in UC3

This past week, 20,000 Earth scientists gathered in San Francisco for the American Geophysical Union’s Fall 2011 Meeting.  Like most conference attendees, I had grand plans of attending the conference all week, filling my head with geophysical knowledge and talking to scientists about their use of Excel.  The week didn’t quite work out as planned, but I have good information to share nonetheless.  Here’s some highlights:

  1. Earth scientists are using Excel just as much as Ecologists and Fisheries folks. They are using it in similar ways, too: they organize their data in Excel, then export it to other programs like MATLAB and JMP to perform analyses.
  2. Earth scientists are more familiar with the idea of downloading data from websites and repositories, and then combining these potentially disparate data types to perform analyses. (Check out this great list of relevant data repositories from University of Oregon libraries)
  3. Despite their familiarity with downloading data from repositories, very few of them upload their data to those repositories. They think of those data centers as Read-only rather than Read-write.

Item #3 above was the most interesting, from my perspective.  Earth scientists are benefiting greatly from others sharing their data and making it available for use and re-use.  Why doesn’t it occur to them to contribute?  It’s the holiday season- the season of giving and receiving.  That means you, Earth Scientists!

two way street sign
Data centers are a two-way street. From Flickr by z6p6tist6

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