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The curation and preservation of scientific data has long been recognized as an essential activity for the reproducibility of science and the advancement of knowledge. While investment into data curation for specific disciplines and at individual research institutions has advanced the ability to preserve research data products, data curation for big interdisciplinary science remains relatively unexplored terrain. To fill this lacunae, this article presents a case study of the data curation for the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) funded project “Understanding Coral Ecosystem Connectivity in the Gulf of Mexico-Pulley Ridge to the Florida Keys” undertaken from 2011 to 2018 by more than 30 researchers at several research institutions. The data curation process is described and a discussion of strengths, weaknesses and lessons learned is presented. Major conclusions from this case study include: the reimplementation of data repository infrastructure builds valuable institutional data curation knowledge but may not meet data curation standards and best practices; data from big interdisciplinary science can be considered as a special collection with the implication that metadata takes the form of a finding aid or catalog of datasets within the larger project context; and there are opportunities for data curators and librarians to synthesize and integrate results across disciplines and to create exhibits as stories that emerge from interdisciplinary big science.

The substance of this article is based upon a poster presented at RDAP Summit 2019.


Data Curation, Big Science, Data Repository, Story Maps, Interdisciplinary


Many thanks to Dr. Robert Cowen (OSU, previously at UM), Dr. Peter Ortner (UM – RSMAS), and Dr. Shirley Pomponi (FAU – HBOI), the three principal investigators on the Pulley Ridge Project. This work was funded by the NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science awards NA11NOS4780045, NA09OAR4320073, and NA14OAR4320260. We would also like to thank Kimberly Puglise and Jessica Morgan of the NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science. Special thanks to Julio Perez (software developer), Sreeharsha Venkatapurum (databases and indexing) and Chance Scott (Geographic Information Systems) of the University of Miami Center for Computational Science. Without their expertise this project would not be possible.

Corresponding Author

Timothy B Norris, Librarian Associate Professor, University of Miami Libraries, Center for Computational Science, Richter Library, 3rd Floor, 1300 Memorial Drive, Coral Gables, FL 33146; tnorris@miami.edu

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Copyright Norris & Mader © 2019

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.