Marine Data Management Guidelines

Marine data include a very wide range of measurements and variables derived from a broad spectrum of multidisciplinary research projects and monitoring programmes. The data are collected by different institutes, governmental organizations or private companies using heterogeneous instruments and sensors installed in various observing platform. Depending on the data type, the acquisition systems, the delivery time frame or operations of the archiving centre, there is not a unique used data model and structure and the original measurement format may not be the same with the format that the archiving centre can accept. In general the archiving format should be:

  • be independent from the computer (and libraries),
  • insure that any isolated data includes enough meta-data to be processed (eg. Location and date),
  • be compatible and include at least the mandatory fields (meta-data) requested for the exchange format(s),
  • include additional textual or standardized “history” or “comment” fields to prevent any loss of information,
  • provide similar structure and meta-data for different data type such as vertical profiles and time series.

Alongside the data, additional information (metadata) is needed not only for quality control and archiving, but also for exchanging data or integration of them into regional or global data sets. For all types of data, information is required about:

  • Where the data were collected: location (preferably as latitude and longitude) and depth/height
  • When the data were collected (date and time in UTC or clearly specified local time zone)
  • How the data were collected (e.g. sampling methods, instrument types, analytical techniques)
  • How you refer to the data (e.g. station numbers, cast numbers)
  • Who collected the data, including name and institution of the data originator(s) and the principal investigator
  • What has been done to the data (e.g. details of processing and calibrations applied, algorithms used to compute derived parameters)
  • Watch points for other users of the data (e.g. problems encountered and comments on data quality)

We encourage the great variety of data submitters to adopt the common formats for metadata and data with the existing marine community practices and make use of these common standards for their data packages submissions. This will enable the easiest integration of their data sets into the current data systems and make them re-usable. A summary of these basic data management guidelines used by the marine community can be found here.

For the process and guidelines for managing operational data check the specific section.