- Consult the FCE Information Manager
Your first step when you plan to submit data is to contact the FCE Information Manager, Dr. Kristin Vanderbilt, with details about the data you intend to archive. She will need to know the number of data files you will submit and how they relate to each other. She can then advise you on how to organize the data files for archiving. Let her know at this time if you will be submitting code, photographs or other non-tabular data to include with the archived data package (a data package = metadata + data and other resources archived together).
Data should be organized into logical units based on data structure and theme for archiving. If you are submitting data for multiple years, for instance, all data should be compiled into a single file. If you are submitting several data tables that were all collected as part of a single experiment, they should probably be archived together in a single dataset. The IM will advise you on the best organization for your dataset.
- Format Your Data for ArchivingBefore submitting your data to the FCE Information Manager, please ensure that the data are formatted according to the following rules.
- Data may be submitted as Microsoft Excel files or comma-separated files (.csv).
- Column header names should not include spaces or special characters such as ‘/’ (forward slash). Underscores are permitted.
- Format dates as YYYY-MM-DD. Spreadsheets are notorious for “coercing” date and time formats into proprietary numerical formats when data is entered. It is your responsibility to ensure that the spreadsheet you submit shows the correct dates.
- Do not include commas in cell contents. For instance, in a comments field enter "missing tag; could be 602" rather than "missing tag, could be 602". The data will be archived as a comma-separated file, and commas within the data will cause some records to have too many fields.
- Do not submit data with empty cells. Instead, enter a code for the missing observations, such as -9999 for numerical variables or NA for text variables.
- Create Metadata
- Metadata describe the who, what, where, when and why of a dataset, and provide the details that a secondary user will need to understand and reuse your dataset. The information you submit will be encoded as Ecological Metadata Language (EML), the metadata standard used by the LTER Network. EML makes the metadata machine readable, enabling discovery and automated processing.
- You have two choices of tools to use to enter your metadata.
- If you are archiving a single table, you may use the FCE LTER Excel Metadata Template to describe the data. Download an example of a completed metadata template. The FCE IM will use the Excel2EML tool to generate EML from the metadata you submit.
- If you are submitting multiple tables to encapsulate in a single dataset, you may use the Word Metadata Template provided by the Environmental Data Initiative. The FCE IM will then use the EMLassemblyline R tool to generate EML.