Project StORe: Astronomy Report
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In many ways, digital astronomy is at the forefront of issues related to data curation, given the existing experience with generating large amounts of data in raw form, and significant quantities of derived data in processed form. Additionally, astronomers have agreed upon a set of standards and web services for accessing, organizing and disseminating data. In the United States, the international Virtual Observatory effort is often cited as the archetypal example for cyberinfrastructure-related discussions. Astronomy data is “unconstrained” in the sense that it does not contain the same privacy, legal, commercial, etc. parameters of other scientific disciplines. This characteristic enables astronomers, and librarians, to build systems in an open manner. 1) Apart from being a condition of use of source repositories, the culture in astronomy is strong for citing source data in publications. Links from output to source repositories may be more useful than vice versa. The main value for accessing data in this manner would be value to the research community, to validate results, to identify specific astronomical objects of interest, or to identify collaborative opportunities. 2) Researchers are happy for their (source) data to be used as long as it is credited and, where publicly funded, there is an obligation for it to be made so anyway after a proprietary period of usually 6 to18 months (during which time data is restricted to project team members). 3) ArXiv.org and NASA-ADS are the main A&I database and output repositories used. The Virtual Observatory team and Sheridan Libraries at Johns Hopkins are working with the University of Chicago Press to consider output repository support at the time of article submission, especially as it supports preservation of derived data cited within publications. 4) There are facilities to link source to output data in operation, e.g. CDS's Simbad but they are not comprehensive and one interviewee mentioned his work on improving the linking. 5) Source repositories like being able to monitor how much they are used, especially if metrics for use might help gather additional funding or support. 6) Astronomers should define standard methods to refer to same objects when viewed through different spectra, including the provenance or annotations with certain data (or analyses of data) are deposited into output repositories. Additional metadata through automated mechanisms (e.g., telescope directly records weather conditions) would also be useful. 7) Astronomers would not seek help from librarians or informational professionals with information seeking or navigating, but rather for assistance with metadata and preservation matters related to datasets.