Andrea Thomer Defends Dissertation

May 08, 2017


CIRSS doctoral candidate Andrea K. Thomer successfully defended her dissertation, "Site-Based Data Curation: Bridging Data Collection Protocols and Curatorial Processes at Scientifically Significant Sites," on May 8.

Her committee included Carole Palmer (chair; professor and associate dean for research, University of Washington Information School), Bryan Heidorn (director, University of Arizona School of Information), Professor Michael Twidale, and Dean Allen Renear.

From the abstract: My study explores the relationship between data and metadata standards and data collection protocols, and how site resource managers and visiting researchers negotiate and navigate their different needs of data collection protocols and reporting. I particularly focus on how researchers and managers represent study sites in their data collection protocols and curation processes, and on how data collection protocols impact later data structures and schemas. I conduct a multi-case study of research and curation conducted at two scientifically significant sites: geobiology research at Yellowstone National Park, and paleontology research at the La Brea Tar Pits. I develop these case studies through interviews with site stakeholders and participatory research methods, in which I collaborate with key participants to develop new "minimum information frameworks" for work at the sites. I additionally draw on methods from systems analysis to model data collection and curation workflows. Comparison of minimum information frameworks to workflow models makes it possible to identify points of curatorial intervention earlier in data collection workflows. This makes site-based data more resuable and easier to manage in the long term. Finally, I propose a high-level informaiton model for data collected and curated at scientifically significant sites. This model contains three classes of information: about a data collection project, a site's structure, and about specimens and measurements.

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