Site-Based Data Curation at Yellowstone National Park (SBDC)



Funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), through the National Leadership Grant program



The Site-Based Data Curation project (SBDC) is developing a framework for the curation of research data generated at scientifically significant research sites. The framework will be based on geobiology conducted at Yellowstone National Park, as an exemplar site producing data with long-term value. Yellowstone is a tremendously important and rich site for data collection in geobiology, drawing scientists investigating research questions ranging from the origin of life on Earth to the search for life on other planets.

Modern research in the earth sciences increasingly depends on the development of systematic accounts of the interactions of physical, chemical and biological phenomena and the integration of diverse measurements and observations. Making data accessible and functional for these purposes will depend on 1) principled curation practices early in the data lifecycle and 2) curating cohesive and usable sets of data for transfer to repositories.

The SBDC framework is an important step forward in evolving the professional work of curation, and the inter-institutional relationships that are essential in the emerging ecology of scientific data curation.  In particular, the project continues previous work by the Data Conservancy on repository development and curation of research data.



  • Develop guidelines and processes for the curation of diverse digital data, in response to the needs of scientists and site professionals.
  • Test and document effective processes for transferring curated data into repositories for preservation and access.



SBDC represents the kind of institutional collaboration needed to build functional, interdisciplinary data services and systems for earth and life sciences. The project team brings together experts in data curation, data repositories, geobiology, and research site management.

SBDC Group

Research Questions:

  • Inter-institutional dynamics: What are the basic principles that need to underpin the policies and processes of site-based curation, from the perspectives of site resource managers, scientific researchers, and information professionals? What repository expertise needs to inform site-based curation? What site expertise needs to inform repository operations? How can site and repository policies and processes be aligned for optimal workflows and economies of scale?
  • Curation of units and series of data: What kinds of series are of value to resource managers and scientists? What are the appropriate parameters for defining units, beyond geo/temporal dimensions and sub-site identity? How do appraisal criteria for data units and data sets differ? How should continuing series be curated and managed?



The new data curation approaches will be integrated into the curriculum of the Specialization in Data Curation at GSLIS and undergraduate and graduate courses in geobiology at Illinois, with educational outreach extended to Yellowstone. The education activities will advance data curation workforce expertise in handling complex, cross-disciplinary data and help prepare scientific communities to contribute to and take advantage of diverse collections of curated data.


arrowbutton Press Release - CIRSS researchers and collaborators from geobiology and Yellowstone National Park receive grant to develop framework for site-based data curation.

arrowbutton Proposal Abstract

arrowbutton Goals and Activities Matrix

arrowbutton 2013 RDAP Poster

arrowbutton 2013 Site-Based Data Curation Workshop



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