Week 1 – Explaining DataONE and Exploring GitHub

My name is Saraneh Fitzgerald, and I am the intern working on Project 1: Tools to enhance community driven data management education. This week, I flew out to California to meet my primary adviser, Megan Mach, in person. In a video-conference with Megan, my secondary adviser Dave Vieglais, Amber Budden (a co-PI at DataONE), and myself, we discussed the specific goals of my internship as well as the broader objectives of DataONE as a whole.

What is DataONE?

DataONE has multiple objectives.

1) To facilitate data discovery.

DataONE is a catalogue which directs users to datasets depending on what they are looking for. This search tool is very powerful because finding the right dataset can be extremely difficult. Often, there are multiple criteria that have to be met, such as observation period, geographical extent, and the attribute of interest. There are a number of data repositories, called member nodes, which expose their data to DataONE. DataONE sifts through all these data from all of these different repositories and presents relevant datasets to the user. Oftentimes, DataONE helps member nodes with data management because it requires contributors to provide proper metadata and provenance information for their data.

2) Provide data management education.

Data management is extremely important but still largely overlooked. There are few opportunities for learning how to properly manage data, even in schools it is a seldom offered topic. DataONE seeks to fill this gap by providing its own education resources, in the form of  tutorials, webinars, worksheets, and more. These resources are housed in a GitHub repository, called the Data Management Skillbuilding Hub.

3) Provide an opportunity for contribution

DataONE is a community-driven initiative, and depends heavily on volunteers. Additionally, DataONE wants community members to be contributing data as well as educational resources.

What will be accomplished with Project 1?

The main outcome for Project 1 is to help facilitate the process for community members to contribute to and build upon DataONE’s educational resources. In short, I will be creating a technical tutorial which shows contributors how to upload their educational materials or how to edit existing ones. DataONE users are diverse, and consequently the tutorial must be easy to understand. The challenge will be in making submission through GitHub as easy as possible. GitHub is a platform which for collaboration and project work, but is largely used by open-source coders. This means anyone who wants to contribute materials or edits will have to first familiarize themselves with how GitHub works. My initial exploration for this week will be in finding how other community-sourced projects have surmounted this hurdle. Are there other projects out there hosted through GitHub that have made contributing easy for everyone? How have community-driven projects in general made contribution as non-specialized as possible?

So far  I have downloaded Atom, a text-editor compatible with GitHub as well as RubyInstaller but am still having trouble with installing Jekyll!  My work this week will go off of DataONE’s current “Contribute” resources and explore further options based upon any examples I find.

See you next week!

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