May 19, 2022

Journal Article: “A Discussion of Value Metrics for Data Repositories in Earth and Environmental Sciences”

The article linked below was published today by Data Science Journal. 


A Discussion of Value Metrics for Data Repositories in Earth and Environmental Sciences


Cynthia Parr
National Agricultural Library

Corinna Gries
Marine Science Institute, University of California Santa Barbara

Margaret O’Brien
Center for Limnology, University of Wisconsin

Robert R. Downs
Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), Columbia University

Ruth Duerr
Ronin Institute for Independent Scholarship

Rebecca Koskela
DataONE, University of New Mexico

Philip Tarrant
Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, Arizona State University

Keith E. Maull
National Center for Atmospheric Research

Nancy Hoelbelheinrich
Knowledge Motifs

Shelley Stall
American Geophysical Union


Data Science Journal 18(1)
DOI: 10.5334/dsj-2019-058


Despite growing recognition of the importance of public data to the modern economy and to scientific progress, long-term investment in the repositories that manage and disseminate scientific data in easily accessible-ways remains elusive. Repositories are asked to demonstrate that there is a net value of their data and services to justify continued funding or attract new funding sources. Here, representatives from a number of environmental and Earth science repositories evaluate approaches for assessing the costs and benefits of publishing scientific data in their repositories, identifying various metrics that repositories typically use to report on the impact and value of their data products and services, plus additional metrics that would be useful but are not typically measured. We rated each metric by (a) the difficulty of implementation by our specific repositories and (b) its importance for value determination. As managers of environmental data repositories, we find that some of the most easily obtainable data-use metrics (such as data downloads and page views) may be less indicative of value than metrics that relate to discoverability and broader use. Other intangible but equally important metrics (e.g., laws or regulations impacted, lives saved, new proposals generated), will require considerable additional research to describe and develop, plus resources to implement at scale. As value can only be determined from the point of view of a stakeholder, it is likely that multiple sets of metrics will be needed, tailored to specific stakeholder needs. Moreover, economically based analyses or the use of specialists in the field are expensive and can happen only as resources permit.

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About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.