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The Open Research System: A Web-based Metadata and Data Repository for Collaborative Research
Computers and Electronics in Agriculture (2005)
  • Charles M Schweik, University of Massachusetts - Amherst
  • Alexander Stepanov
  • J Morgan Grove

Beginning in 1999, a web-based metadata and data repository we call the "open research system" (ORS) was designed and built to assist geographically distributed scientific research teams. The purpose of this innovation was to promote the open sharing of data within and across organizational lines and across geographic distances. As the use of the system continued, end users and group administrators requested the development of a second, Intranet-based system with similar functionality. After three years of operation, a survey was conducted of users of the system to understand why some users and research groups appeared to utilize the two systems more than others. From this research we found that some barriers to use include: (1) mismatch of system functionality to user or group needs; (2) willingness to share with an internal group by Intranet but not with the world by Internet; and (3) resistance to entering metadata because of workplace habits. This experience has also taught us that with respect to web-based metadata and data repositories there is a difference between long-term and short-term research projects in their need to establish good metadata and data storage procedures. Moreover, some time is required for researchers to change from short-term to long-term project thinking. It is also important for organizations or managers of such research groups to reflect on established incentives and penalties that either encourage or discourage appropriate use of metadata in filing procedures. We conclude with a discussion of possible improvements that will be made to the system in the coming years, with an emphasis on the emerging phenomenon of "open content" (OC) collaboration that is being modeled after Internet-based collaboration in "open source" (OS) programming. This development will require online systems like ORS, and the OS/OC approach has the potential to evolve into no less than a new paradigm for how cross-organizational (in fact, global) scientific research collaborations are undertaken in the future.

  • Internet collaboration,
  • metadata
Publication Date
Publisher Statement
DOI: 10.1016/j.compag.2004.12.006
Citation Information
Charles M Schweik, Alexander Stepanov and J Morgan Grove. "The Open Research System: A Web-based Metadata and Data Repository for Collaborative Research" Computers and Electronics in Agriculture Vol. 47 (2005)
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