Example of a Simple Knowledge Organization System that defines a vocabulary and syntax to formalize a common language for paleoceanography and paleoclimatology data.
Simple Knowledge Organization System (SKOS) defines a vocabulary and syntax to formalize a common language for paleoceanography and paleoclimatology data. This example links a concept (e.g., carbon) to its category (e.g., element), possible prefixes (e.g. organic), related applications (e.g., paleoceanography), and additional resources (e.g., a database with more information). Credit: Morrill et al. [2021], Figure 3
Editors’ Highlights are summaries of recent papers by AGU’s journal editors.
Source: Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology

The AGU community increasingly recognizes the need to ensure data are archived following FAIR Principles: Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, and Reusability. Yet for individual scientists, data deposition often becomes a hasty last step to journal submission or grant reporting compliance. At the community-scale, the challenge to find related data intensifies as datasets and data types proliferate.

In the case of the AGU Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology community, proxy data are typically heterogeneous, small datasets (often 1 kb-1 Mb) that present a challenge known to data managers as the “long tail of science”. The World Data Service continues their tradition of supporting the AGU Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology community by offering a common vocabulary (a thesaurus) and structure to organize our data collections, which is reported by Morrill et al. [2021]. This taxonomy is in use in the WDS database from 2021 and can be readily implemented by users depositing data using a template.

While familiarity with cyberprocedures may vary, the concept of taxonomy is not one that needs much explaining to paleoscientists. Simply put, using common terms, selected from the Paleoenvironmental Standard Terms (PaST) Thesaurus, when archiving data, ensures that those data are returned in search engine results (supporting Findability). The PaST taxonomy can be adopted into other databases across platforms (supporting Interoperability). The PaST taxonomy was developed from the experience of decades of community archiving, was informed by focused consultation with members of the paleoscience community today, and has mechanisms for updates, anticipating future change. That’s an approach the paleosciences research community can appreciate.

Citation: Morrill, C., Thrasher, B., Lockshin, S. N., Gille, E. P., McNeill, S., Shepherd, E., et al. [2021]. The paleoenvironmental standard terms (PaST) thesaurus: Standardizing heterogeneous variables in paleoscience. Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology, 36, e2020PA004193. https://doi.org/10.1029/2020PA004193

―Sarah Feakins, Associate Editor, Paleoceanography and Paleoclimatology 

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