The US JGOFS data management experience Academic Article uri icon


  • The US Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS) database management system is an online, oceanographic database assembled from the research activities of the US JGOFS field and Synthesis and Modeling Program (SMP). It is based on modern, object-oriented programming, with a web-based user interface ( that gives all users, regardless of the computer platform being used, equal access to the data and metadata. It is populated with an extensive set of biogeochemical data from the US JGOFS community along with the attendant metadata. This article summarizes the lessons learned that may serve as a primer for future oceanographic and earth science research programs. Good data management requires devoted resources, about 5-10% of the total cost of the program. A data management office should be established at the initiation of the program, conventions for standard methods, names, and units need to be established before the field program begins, and an agreed-to list of metadata must be collected systematically along with the data. Open and accessible data management depends upon investigators agreeing to share their data with each other, leading to more rapid scientific discovery. Data management should support data distribution and archival; interactions between the data managers and the principal investigators make the database a living database. Innovative use of commercial products in information technology can save time and money in scientific database management. Technology allows access to the database to be transparent in location and intuitive in use. Finally, the most important investments in data management are the people hired. (c) 2006 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

publication date

  • March 2006