Purpose and scope

The rationale and goals of the Expert Panel

Scope of the information management expert panel

One of the lessons learned from the ALTER-Net Work Package I6 experience is that information management must not be considered in isolation from the working conditions and practical needs of researches. With the end of ALTER-Net funding centralized information management must evolve from the focus on informatics research, laying the foundations, to something fundamentally different. In the long-term perspective the socio-technical aspects of information management also need to be tackled. The formation of the Information Management Expert Panel at the Mallorca meeting (December 2008) represents the first phase of this transition.

The scope of the Expert Panel on information management is to foster information management issues on all level of the network, starting from the sites to the platforms and networks (see Figure 53 in chapter 2.8). Starting point for the work on the information expert panel are the existing experiences in ALTER-Net and LTER Europe.

Information management within LTER Europe needs to:

    • Address the realities and needs of the multiple levels of information management in long-term ecological and socio-ecological research and monitoring
    • Address the responsibilities for relations between the different levels
    • Be sensitive to both, short-term and long-term information management issues, e.g. foster information management capacity building (Expert Panel on Information Management) or promote tools and technological developments in collaboration within the LTER program
    • Increase sharing and collaboration in information management issues at all levels.



Recent negotiations and cooperations with networks and projects requiring in-situ components for biodiversity and ecosystem research (LifeWatch, ANAEE, NOHA, EBONE) showed the crucial importance of accurate documentation of LTER-Europe’s infrastructure. Without such up-to-date meta information the availability of appropriate existing sites and data cannot be checked, which hampers their efficient multiple use as well as the involvement of the operating institutions (e.g. ALTER partners) in research projects, which is crucial for further increasing the scientific value of the sites. The European Environment Agency (EEA) plans to join forces with LTER-Europe in improving the European Research Area in the field of environmental research. It intends to facilitate pilot projects to test, to what extent in-situ research data can be used to detect trends and improve monitoring schemes and indicators. This capitalizes on reliable metadata on sites and their data. Other proposals for ALTER-Net II activities build on selections of sites (e.g. to test new methodologies or equipment). ALTER-Net institutes and other site operating institutions face an increasing number of requests to document their infrastructure. Therefore it is important to minimize the documentation efforts by keeping a unique reference from which other databases can be centrally updated (e.g. ILTER, GTOS-TEMS).

To tackle the above challenges three main areas need to be taken care of:

    1. Establishing a LTER information centre on the infrastructure of LTER-Europe (and ALTER-Net II) as technical interface with strategic partners and research projects
    2. Regular information updates on infrastructure  and data (sites, platforms) of LTER-Europe
    3. Securing the maintenance and adaptation of appropriate information structures and tools to collect this information, process it and make it available on the WEB (building on ALTER-Net products such as LTER Infobase, SERONTO and eMORIS).



Based on the discussion within an initiazing working group on information management at the LTER Europe Scientific Site Coordinators Conference in Palma de Majorca (Spain, Dec. 2008) the following objectives and tasks for the Expert Panel on Information Management (EP IM) were identified and ranked:

  1. Metadata and information on the network
  • Support metadata related activities
  • Provide simple tools for input / query
  • Provide a user friendly framework for metadata management, to achieve self-interest on meta information provision of data owners
  • Improvement of IM practices on all levels of the network
    • Provide mechanisms for sharing the knowledge and experiences on best practise examples in IM in collaboration and learning from all levels of the networks
    • Collaboration with other EPs of LTER Europe (e.g. science strategy, technology, harmonisation, etc.)
  • Collaboration and information exchange outside LTER-Europe
    • Promotion of the collaboration with other related activities on the local, national, regional and global level (e.g. ILTER, LifeWatch, US-LTER, TDWG, OGC, GEOS, GMES, etc.)
  • Further development of the achievements of ALTER-Net in the field of data architechtures, tools and dissemination of conceptual expertise
    • Providing introduction in concepts (e.g. SERONTO, LTER InfoBase, etc.)
    • Further adaptations and tool development
    • Coordination of the future work steps


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