Central data management
Kernprojekt 4 – The so-called core projects of the Biodiversity Exploratories (BE) emerged from the project on site selection and the establishment of the exploratories (2006-2008) and have been providing the infrastructure since 2008.
A large amount of data is collected each year in the subprojects of the Biodiversity Exploratories (BE), reflecting the broad spectrum of scientific questions. It is essential to store these data centrally to ensure easy, fair, and reproducible data sharing between the researchers.
It is also crucial that these data are not lost and are available for future generations of researchers within the BE and projects outside. Long-time series are for many questions in biodiversity research of great interest.
To ensure this, the data management project, as one of the central infrastructure projects, has accompanied the BE from the beginning. It is located at the Friedrich Schiller University Jena. It is the first contact point for all aspects of research data management for all BE participants, other researchers, and the interested public.
We achieve the main goals described above regarding the storage and exchange of the research data with a web application called BExIS. Below you will find sections with additional information on this.
We support researchers in using BExIS and in all data management issues. We offer help in uploading data into BExIS and ensure high data quality (data curation). Last but not least, we advise and support researchers in publishing their data.
In addition to the research data support, we promote the exchange of important documents and publications in the overall project and offer software tools for querying basic data, such as climate data. Furthermore, we support the researchers by providing important information and tools for planning and conducting fieldwork in BExIS. These aspects are shown in the following figure and explained in more detail in the section “Functionalities of BExIS”.
BExIS is the abbreviation of our information system name “Biodiversity Exploratories Information System”. Initially, the software was developed and continuously extended in the BE project since 2007 (BExIS, 1st generation). Other research projects also showed interest in such an application. But it was not easy to set up BExIS for other projects because it was developed for the demands of the BE. Therefore a DFG project was initiated in 2012 with the participation of our team. The goal was to develop a modular data management system for ecological data that can be easily adapted to the needs of different projects.
The new software was named BEXIS2 and is a freely available, server-based research data management application. It is designed to support the entire data life cycle and is highly configurable. Among other things, it supports the use of different metadata schemas, access to different versions of the data, predefinition of variables, rights assignment with an integrated release request and release management for datasets, search configuration, and DOI assignment.
In February, the BE project started to use the BExIS2 software. But the name “BExIS” continues to stand for the BE’s information system. Since the BExIS2 software is modular, we extended it with our BE-specific functionalities (see section „Functionalities of BExIS“) and made them available to other projects using BEXIS2.
For the current phase, various work packages have been proposed to guarantee the day-to-day operation of the research database and data management in general. The secure storage of high-quality data in a sustainable data management system requires the management of the research data and the support of the users, maintenance of the technology and software, and the further development of BEXIS2. It also includes tasks related to the publication of the datasets.
In addition, some newer aspects are included. Firstly, after the move to BEXIS2, some necessary adjustments to the system are required. In addition, access to the data is to be improved through a better search and by supporting additional data formats (spatial data, sound data, genetic data).
Another task is the development of an environment in BEXIS2 to support the curation of datasets. This should support researchers and data management team members to achieve a very high data quality.
An additional point for potential innovation is to explore software-related communication options to reach various stakeholders from non-scientific fields.
BEXIS2 mainly provides functions for handling data and managing the registered persons. An overview can be found here.
In addition, we develop special functions tailored to the needs of the BE (see goals). Since we also follow the modular approach during programming, these modules are usable by other projects. Here is an overview of these components:
Central data management
Central data management BExIS
Friedrich-Schiller-University of Jena
Dept of Mathematics and Computer Science
Leutragraben 1, Jentower