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Research Data Alliance 7th Plenary Meeting


The Research Data Alliance (RDA) will hold its next  Plenary Meeting for the first time in Asia! The 7th edition will take place 1–3 March 2016 in Tokyo, Japan, where the ICSU World Data System International Programme Office is hosted by the Japanese National Institute of Information and Communications Technology. Beyond this geographical proximity, WDS is strongly involved in RDA activities ...

Webinar #8: Crowdsourcing Data and Quality Control–The Experience of OpenStreetMap

Volunteered Geographic Information is becoming increasingly important in a number of scientific and development domains, and  OpenStreetMap  (OSM) is the largest effort to harness the power of the internet for crowd-sourced spatial data generation. OSM has more than 2.3 million registered users, and has mapped more than 34 million km of roads in all countries. On 10 February 2016, Mikel Maron ...

Call for SciDataCon 2016 Programme Committee Candidates (DEADLINE EXTENDED!)


SciDataCon 2016  is the scientific research conference that will advance the frontiers of data in research c onvened by the Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA) and the World Data System (WDS), interdisciplinary bodies of the International Council for Science (ICSU) . The Programme Committee of  the conference will play a key role in shaping the scientific programme. Geoffrey ...

Announcement: International Data Week & SciDataCon 2016 Call for Sessions (DEADLINE EXTENDED!)


The ICSU World Data System, ICSU Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA), and Research Data Alliance (RDA) are delighted to announce that International Data Week 2016 (IDW 2016) will be held from 11–17 September 2016 at the Sheraton Downtown Hotel in Denver, Colorado. Under the theme From Big Data to Open Data – Mobilizing the Data Revolution, IDW will bring together data ...

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Vacancy: Lead an Exciting International Research Programme on DRR

The International Council for Science (ICSU), the International Social Science Council (ISSC) and the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN-ISDR) invite applications for the post of Executive Director of the Integrated Research on Disaster Risk (IRDR) programme, which will become vacant on 01 June 2016. This post is located at the IRDR International Programme Office in Beijing, China.

The closing date for applications is midnight (CET) on 18 March 2016and more information on the vacancy—including how to apply—can be found through the ICSU website:

WGMS Glacier App – Worldwide Glacier Information System To Go!

A Blog post by Nico Mölg (Glaciology and Geomorphodynamics Group, WGMS)

Which glaciers are still advancing?
How many are melting?
Which glaciers are being monitored in your country?

A new smartphone application from the World Glacier Monitoring Service (WGMS; WDS Regular Member) shows how glaciers have evolved around the globe. It provides easy and public access to glacier observation data and photographs of more than 3700 glaciers. The wgms Glacier Apprecently launched at a side-event of COP21—is based on a comprehensive research database and aims at bringing corresponding facts and figures to decision makers, to outdoor people, researchers, and anybody interested in the topic, in order to provide information and raise awareness of ongoing climatic changes. 

The wgms Glacier App shows all observed glaciers on a satellite map. Basic information is provided for each glacier, including photographs and general information on size and elevation. A text search allows users to filter the glaciers by name, country, region, and measurement type. For example, one can find out which glaciers have gained or lost ice over the past decade. A compass shows the closest observed glaciers in all directions from the user’s current position, and a 'card game' (Glacier Top Trumps) enables users to compare the best observed glaciers in the world and compete against the computer. In addition, graphs with observation data illustrate the glacier's development, along with information on local investigators, and detailed explanations of measurement types. WGMS wants to increase the visibility of the hundreds of glacier observers around the globe whose work documents the impact of climate change on glaciers. 

Jointly developed by the WGMS and Ubique – Apps and Technology, the app is available free of charge for Android and iOS in English, German, Russian, and Spanish.

CODATA Webinar: Data Accessibility Benchmark Organizational Self-assessment Tool

The ICSU Committee on Data for Science and Technology (CODATA; WDS Associate Member) will host a webinar on 18–19 January on the Data Accessibility Benchmark Organizational Self-assessment Tool developed by Coastal and Ocean Information Network Atlantic (COINAtlantic) and Dalhousie University. This webinar will be presented by Andrew Sherin, Director of the COINAtlantic Secretariat.

To cater to different time zones, the webinar will be run twice: at 16.00 UTC on 18 January 2016 and at 01.00 UTC on 19 January. To view the presentation abstract and to register for either of the above slots, please visit:

How to Compromise Data Quality and Service of Data From the 'Dark Long Tail'

Toshihiko IyemoriA Blog post by Toshihiko Iyemori (WDS-SC)

The WDS Scientific Committee (WDS-SC) requests WDS Members to maintain the quality of their data and services. Another important task for the WDS-SC is to recruit data centres from various disciplines, as many and wide as possible, to serve their data to promote science—in particular interdisciplinary science. However, based on my experiences as a researcher of Solar–Terrestrial Physics and as Director of the World Data Centre for Geomagnetism, Kyoto (WDS Regular Member), I believe that we have one more important task for promoting science: collecting and serving useful data from the 'dark long tail' of datasets.

There are a huge number of datasets—mainly obtained on a research project basis—that are not registered to active data centres, and hence are 'dark' to many of us. These datasets are typically built by small research groups for a limited period, and data quality checks are often not sufficient. Although their quality may not be good and they exist only for a limited period, such data are very important and useful if the location of observation site is highly unique, or if other observations are not available.

We know of many such 'dark long tail' datasets, and some have been sent to our data centre, but even if we find them and can ingest them, we often have difficulty to keep (or to confirm) their quality. Nevertheless, my personal opinion is that these data should also be served by WDS Members, even if they conflict with the membership requirements of WDS.

One way to compromise for the data quality and service of data from the 'dark long tail' is to register metadata that describe the observations in as much detail as possible. An example of this in practice is IUGONET (Interuniversity Upper atmosphere Global Observation NETwork), which has a common database of metadata and forms a virtual data centre of distributed databases at several institutions. This data system includes databases from the 'dark long tail', as well as large well-known databases.

The WDS-SC and WDS Member Organizations must therefore take action (and advocate) to ensure such 'dark' datasets are registered in appropriate data centres or systems with adequate metadata to make them useful. Otherwise, I have a concern that they may just be kept by each institutional repository in a way that cannot be exploited or could even be lost forever.

To improve the situation domestically, we held two workshops at Kyoto University last autumn that explored possibilities for collaboration among Japanese university libraries, informatics experts, and research scientists. University libraries in Japan are not very positive in general about functioning as repositories for scientific data. In contrast, some researchers are actively trying to develop the related technology or systems for that to happen. Moreover, a Japanese endeavour to register datasets and attach Digital Object Identifiers started last year. My hope is that these activities grow and form a stream of open data from the 'dark long tail'.

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