SHaRED and share alike

Submitting your data to promote re-use and citation became a whole lot easier this month with the launch of the SHaRED (submission, harmonisation and retrieval of ecological data) tool. Barely a month old, SHaRED is already proving a valuable tool to individual researchers and large organisations alike.

Ecologists produce huge volumes of data during their research and, after publishing, often store the data on personal computers for many years. However, with the rapid turnover in data storage technology, it doesn’t take long before many datasets become inaccessible and lost forever.

Sound familiar? Well, the days of forgotten data are gone with the release of SHaRED. The tool enables you to easily upload datasets into a common and secure data repository, the Australian Ecological Knowledge and Observation System (ÆKOS), where it can be retrieved by others to create new science, new knowledge and educational tools.

When uploading your data, SHaRED provides you with an online questionnaire to help you write structured metadata (in a similar way to other systems such as DRYAD and DataONE). Once your data is submitted you will receive a DOI (Digital Object Identifier), be assigned an Open Access Licence (Creative Commons Australia), a Citation to help with acknowledgement of re-use, and receive a certificate of Proof of Submission as a PDF. Receiving an Australian Creative Commons licence means that your data are protected under Australian law, which is important as Australian datasets deposited with international repositories are not protected under US Creative Commons or the EU Data Licence.

Some members of TERN’s ecological research community are early adopters and have already submitted datasets into ÆKOS through SHaRED, while other larger organisations such as Parks Australia and the Australian SuperSite Network are currently in the process of submitting data.

Dr Martin Breed, an ARC Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Adelaide, recently submitted data from his work on habitat fragmentation and seed genetic diversity via SHaRED and says the process was dead easy.

“Intuitive features and drop down menus meant that I was able to submit my data in about 30 minutes,” said Martin.

Whilst other data submission systems may take less time, Martin believes SHaRED is superior due to the detailed and structured metadata collected on submission.

“By storing important contextual information about your data, the chances of people finding it are greatly increased. Not only can people easily find your data but they’re also able to understand it, significantly improving its value and enabling re-use.”

Discovery and retrieval of ecological data via ÆKOS for re-use is equally as intuitive as data submission. Users can search for site data and their related metadata, and data extraction is simple and in a format suitable for uploading into research software such as statistical packages.

“The idea that I could raise my research profile simply by making my data openly accessible is great, but what’s truly exciting is the prospect of creating new partnerships with people who are interested in my data,” said Martin.

Professor Tim Clancy, the Director of TERN, said “SHaRED is a major step forward, ultimately delivering huge amounts of previously unavailable scientific data to support and extend terrestrial ecosystem science, education and management. It also helps to strengthen research networks and scientific collaborations by providing information about other researchers and their scientific endeavours, stimulating increased communication and partnerships.”

Click here to start using SHaRED.

SHaRED was funded through the NeCTAR eResearch Tools program with support from The University of Adelaide. For further information about SHaRED please contact Craig Walker or email To learn more about TERN Eco-informatics visit the facility’s website or contact their staff.

Published in TERN newsletter May 2014

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