Ecosystem data publishing through TERN

Guided by the philosophy ‘Collect data once – make it discoverable – re-use it many times’, TERN’s infrastructure offers a one-stop-shop solution for data publishing and citation through the minting of digital object identifiers, licensing and discoverability.

This is no accident: TERN’s infrastructure has been designed specifically for ecosystem data, and because of this it delivers a number of benefits to the ecosystem science community.

The infrastructure is designed to support the diverse needs of the entire ecosystem science community by providing tailored infrastructure for different discipline areas, for example the discipline-specific data portals like OzFlux, AusCover, the Australian Supersite Network, the Australian Ecological Knowledge and Observation System, the Soil and Landscape Grid of Australia, and the Coastal Research Portal. At the same time, TERN integrates across these discipline areas with the TERN Data Discovery Portal(TDDP), a single point of entry to discover and access data across all disciplines.

By making a diverse array of ecosystem datasets accessible this way, TERN facilitates the easier discovery of relevant datasets, which encourages increased re-use of datasets – for maximum benefit to the ecosystem science and management community.

The discovery and appropriate re-use of ecosystem data is also supported by a range of TERN’s ‘soft’ data publishing infrastructure. TERN has a suite of data licences and a data-licensing framework that are designed specifically for ecosystem data that is complementary to the Australian Governments Open Access and Licensing Framework (AusGOAL).

TERN is also committed to assigning digital object identifiers (DOIs) to all datasets published, and has its own DOI-minting service. As datasets are increasingly being recognised as a measure of research impact, attaching DOIs to datasets is vital to enable easy tracking of the citation of published datasets.

Critical in TERN’s approach to data publishing is the use of consistent, standard data formats and codes, as well as consistent rich metadata formats. The use of standards ensures consistency and enables more efficient data handling. Providing contextual information in metadata also better equips data users to re-use the data appropriately.

TERN’s comprehensive approach to data publishing has resulted in the successful publication of a wide range of nationally significant ecosystem datasets including:

  • plot-based flora surveys across South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia;
  • vegetation and soil information from 54 sites of the AusPlots Rangelands program – with more to be published soon;
  • the diverse data collections from across all 10 sites that make up the Australian Supersite Network.

In addition, continent-scale remote-sensing data products and their field validation data relevant to land cover, ecosystem variables and meteorology; continent-scale gridded soil-attribute datasets; and data from more than 20 flux towers across the country are all accessible through TERN’s Data Discovery Portal.

TERN’s data publishing efforts also maximise returns on investment in research by enabling more efficient data management across the ecosystem science community. The data standards and processes for data publishing developed under TERN are assisting individuals and groups in ecosystem science to enhance their data-management efforts; a recent example comes from the Bureau of Meteorology. TERN’s infrastructure also provides an avenue for more effective coordination and access to ecosystem data, with the TDDP designed to easily link with, and harvest information from, other data repositories without the need to reinvent wheels.


TERN’s infrastructure is a one-stop shop that’s designed to support all stages of the ecosystem data
and research cycle, including data publishing

Published in TERN e-Newsletter June 2013

Share Article