WP4: Data archaeology and rescue | Emodnet Biology

WP4: Data archaeology and rescue

Leader: Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR)


A plethora of datasets, gathered in the framework of small-scale, short-term research activities and which are not part of the large thematic or national monitoring databases, exist in paper and electronic form. These datasets are stored in the form of samples processing books, proceedings, and annual reports, as well as in the form of scattered spreadsheets on the hard disks of individual scientists of the marine institutes, research centres, academic departments, ministries, port authorities, etc. Data on paper that are stored in archives of organizations or in hands of individual scientists are at risk of being lost to future use because of media degradation. Sole copies of manuscript data can be easily lost due to occasional damage or catastrophic events. Samples processing log books are often held by individuals and unavailable after changing roles or retirement. In addition manuscript data are of minimal use to researchers who require data in digital form with full metadata in order to perform comprehensive studies. Not only are data on paper at risk of being lost, data in obsolete databases, Excel sheets and plain text files are kept on personal computers without necessary back-up and security procedures. In most cases these data are not documented properly and contain no associated metadata. This makes it practically impossible to use them without data holder participation. However these historical datasets are necessary to create baseline information for comparison with current and future assessments of the marine environment.

The overall objective of the work package is to fill the spatial and temporal gaps in EMODnet data availability by implementing data archaeology and rescue activities. This is a two-part process of first identifying and locating data and then performing the steps required to merge them into a digital database, which further will be distributed through EurOBIS, and the EMODnet data portal. The work will focus the Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean Seas, but will not be limited to this region. Specific objectives of the work package are:

  • to identify historical data that are at risk of being lost and mobilize the human resources for their archeology and rescue
  • to run a framework of small grants for their digitization, standardization and quality control
  • to propose a mechanism for the networking of the supporting community to ensure continuous inflow of datasets in the future