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A handbook for node managers - not how to operate the - Boku

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A handbook for node information managers Draft (Version 2, 15.12.00, Judith Clark)
This Handbook aims to describe the activities involved in initiating and then maintaining a GFIS node. What are the capacity building activities? These have to be presented in such a way as to not be too daunting, considering the conditions under which many of the institutes operate (remote locations, lack of technology, funding constraints, skills shortages, government agendas, NGO agendas, UN agendas, etc). Must be practical and achievable and set out necessary actions step by step. Must be enabling. Why have a node, why it is important to have a common infrastructure, in short to sell the benefits of data management and set out a business case for it to happen In the spirit of the Rio Convention, GFIS nodes provide a mechanism for encouraging, promoting and facilitating data exchange. By adhering to common data management standards, the information resources generated and controlled at node level may be made accessible to users of forest information worldwide.
Benefits of using an Internet-based metadata system include
* Faster and easier access to global forest-related information and data * Improved ability to publish, disseminate, and promote the research effort at node level
* In the long term will raise the quality of forestry information, enhancing research efforts and decision-making * Preservation of local autonomy and local focus of each node 2.Scope of Handbook Management and use of local information is the responsibility of each node. This handbook applies to
* Global use of forest-related data by researchers, governments, industry, wider community * Collection, management and dissemination of forest-related information across a distributed network
* Establishment of management practices that are globally consistent to achieve the benefits described by GFIS
Access to global forest information in a variety of formats should be easy, equitable, timely (technology, cost, location, institutional arrangements should not inhibit use of information)
Conformity and quality - Data managers need to ensure that agreed standards are followed so that a consistent level of quality can be achieved that will serve the needs of various users
Collaboration - Partnerships, cross-sectoral and international, to develop skills, for technology transfer, and to maximise the value of the information resources
Sensitivity - Arrangements to protect intellectual property rights, preserve confidentiality and security. Respect for the views and needs of local people regarding the sustainable use of forest ecosystems. Provision of publications in several languages.
4.Content for Handbook
What is the definition of a node? A node is a site that collects or generates forest-related data (usually a research institute or similar, but it may also be a private conservation park or commercial body) that has agreed to provide information that conforms to GFIS standards for remote access. Online information resources held at the site are described using metadata and cataloguing mechanisms. Metadata is submitted to GFIS, and appropriate links created to the data resources to make them accessible via the Internet. Affiliated nodes may be organisations or institutes that have or generate data but have not made provision for web-based access to that data. Provision of metadata to GFIS creates opportunities for appropriate sharing of such data to maximise the benefits of investments. Each node needs to have a webmaster or an information officer. This is the person responsible for information management and publishing. Most research institutes have experience in packaging information and maintaining quality standards, through regular newsletters and involvement in bodies producing statistics, guidelines, indicators, reports, etc. This expertise may be redirected to managing and packaging information for broader use.
The 5 nodes to be set up under the Africa Project will each have 2 such positions - duties as yet unspecified. This handbook needs to set out why there needs to be a data manager and what it is that they should do, also why it is important and how this will benefit the institute or node. Responsibilities need to be clarified, at least by guidelines. Does a node need to have guidelines for internal (within the information provider organisation) documentation, information and training?
What do the nodes do? This handbook is not a technical manual for GFIS content providers, but it does need to stress how important it is that standards are established that can be adhered to and that will ensure future interoperability. As yet, little agreement about what this means in practice. Best to consider minimum acceptable standard as compared to ideal.
What is needed in terms of infrastructure for the functions to be carried out?
Again, may be possible to specify minimum and ideal requirements. Networking and telecommunications, software, hardware, skills sets, other equipment, resources and facilities, etc Who can assist in installing and maintaining the infrastructure? How can practical support best be provided?
Information gateway products
* Software - (GIST)
* Metadata standards - (Dublin Core, plus a metadata application profile specific to GFIS)
* Thesaurii or at least a keyword list (initially based on the CAB and AgroVoc thesaurii)
* Classification scheme to assist in mapping between different vocabularies and to facilitate creation of a browse structure (initially to be Dewey Decimal Classification) * Collection policies outlining the scope of GFIS
* XML for material to be developed (no point in converting legacy HTML documents) * User needs assessment and user-based evaluation (templates may be made available to enable this to be done in a consistent fashion at each node)
Prior to implementation of the information system, what needs to be in place at node level?
* A defined organisational structure that acknowledges the need for data management within the node and provides the necessary resources via the annual budget. Within any individual research project, it is recommended that 20 to 40% of the total budget be allocated to data management. * Analysis of what current information systems exist within the node - are there already any policies, operating procedures, training programs related to data management? * Data manager position description - reporting lines, accountabilities, essential and desirable selection criteria, duties, problem-solving and decision-making scope, interactions with others internally and externally, expected outcomes
- suggested responsibilities * Management of institutional records and information, how documents are controlled and how information flows to staff and within the wider organisation, development of policies and procedures for information management * Public awareness and communications programmes, and maintaining linkages with relevant local organisations - and other duties relating to production, distribution and access to knowledge resources
* Specialised information systems, descriptors and guidelines - methodologies and standards to facilitate data exchange and sharing amongst the forest community
* Training and capacity building, providing information about training opportunities - * training needs checklist * potential trainers * workshops, conferences
* curriculum materials and useful resources * mailing lists * online resources for self development
* On going maintenance and operations, policies and procedures for implementation of data management, ensuring that datasets and other relevant resources generated at node level meet the required standards and that information policies are enforced once agreed to.
5Suggested content for a node-level data management plan
This handbook could include a model or for nodes to use when developing an internal information management plan. These are some of the topics to be covered in such a plan
* User's needs, who the customers are * Local program objectives * Document assessment guidelines * Archiving policies - should datasets be recorded and stored on a central server somewhere as well as held locally? * Dissemination of information * Metadata standards, agency-specific and subject-specific thesauri * Rights of data contributors, including for subsequent corrections and updates * Access arrangements/levels and security, backups, version control * Contribution of information within an appropriate framework to guarantee protection of IP and adherence with copyright regulations
* Mechanisms to enforce adherence to policies governing use of technical standards, to ensure information can be shared * Performance indicators and progress evaluation * Glossary of terms
6.Potentially useful references Best Practice guidelines for subject gateways DESIRE Gateways Handbook, Best Practice Checklist for Australian Subject Gateways, Renardus: Academic Subject Gateway Service Europe, Model for Museum Information Management,
IUFRO GFIS Task Force, GFIS, (The technical sub-group is looking at the possibility of defining a ForestXML dialect)
International Long Term Ecological Research (ILTER), The Luquillo LTER site is one of 24 US sites, "A definition of a common management framework" Eda Melendez-Colom. Also, "Handbook to data management policies, data archival and requests" same, 2000. The LTER site links to which has publications and resources in information management for ecologists.
Canadian National Forest Information System, Based on basically the same principles as GFIS. Biodiversity Conservation Information System
Eric's work with the Lake Mead group, http:// Federal Geographic Data Committee Biological Data Working Group, CGIAR Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research, Capacity building is a major aim. Maintains listing of international institutes that provide information resources (plant genetics, aquaculture, etc) CIFOR Center for International Forestry Research, Part of CGIAR. Strategies aim to increase collaboration and access to existing information in an informal framework that recognises the needs of all stakeholders. The "sites of interest" list is categorised and annotated. Global Biodiversity Information Facility,
OECD Committee for Scientific and Technological Policy - purpose of the GBIF is "to co-ordinate the standardisation, digitisation and global dissemination (within an appropriate property rights framework) of the world's biodiversity data." Business paln published. At, there is a list of other international organisations with goals similar to those of GBIF. There is also a draft Memorandum of Understanding relating to IPR issues (but on a closed site).
DIVERSITAS (International Programme of Biodiversity Science) - working with GBIF to develop interoperable search tools. Sponsored by UNESCO. TROPICS Tropical Forestry Projects Information System, Links existing information resources without insisting on standardised formats, by providing one simple entry point.
TDWG is the International Working Group on Taxonomic Databases - includes databases from all biological disciplines. Standards are available at ZADI (Zentralstelle fur Agrardokumentation and -information) in German, site has a functioning cross-search model. Framework for Global Agricultural R&D Information - a proposal at this stage, see National Agricultural Research Systems (NARS) have primary responsibility to move towards food security and sustainable development. Global Forum ON Agricultural Research (GFAR) proposed an information system, papers present case. FAO initiative. Model Forests US 3-yr project to develop a virtual library system with the special feature of allowing data users to annotate their observation Http:// gives a technical model for the system. The International Model Forests Network (IMFN) aims to promote sustainable forest management. US Forest Service and National Science Foundation project. Maintains a documentation centre and links to model forests around the world, includes links to related documents. The Model Forest Development Guide is a handbook for those who are seeking to create a model forest. Step-by-step approach is useful.
European Information System on Agricultural Research for Development and Related Fields, The mission is to provide information for research on development, and improving access by developing countries to European Agricultural Research information. Gateway service provided. 'Topics on Forestry' searches technical information resources such as databases. Information policies of EIARD AgriGate, Australian gateway
AgNIC, Agricultural Network Information Center, Alliance of 40+ libraries that maintain web sites with databases, seeking further international collaboration for a 'supergate', development of an agriculture/forest thesaurus (Lori Starr, controlled vocabulary). Searches distributed databases, see NAL's AgDB is a searchable index of metadata for ag-related databases, datasets and information systems
CERES and National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) are collaborating on a thesaurus and networking toolset, GIST, Generic Information Server Toolkit, ROADS, Compare functionality of ROADS and GIST (GIST was chosen so that individuals can enter data themselves without need for manual quality control inputting). GEM is a site that uses GIST, is the site that gives info about GEM. Training materials for cataloguers provided in variety of formats - good templates. Site makes good use of interactivity and good to navigate. GEM operates in a very distributed fashion, 200+ consortium members.
Paper at discusses critical success factors for mounting web sites collaboratively
Technological infrastructure new intra-institutional relationships (organisational structures/cultures) funding customer response
RDN's development policy outlines role of network and hubs RDN Interoperability and Standards Framework, by Andy Powell
National Archives of Australia have developed records management guidelines based on Australian Standard AS4390-1996 Records Management. DIRKS methodology is an 8-step process which helps govt agencies to design and implement record keeping requirements.
Global Information Locator System/s, Site maintains useful links on GILS with a strong geospatial and environmental focus. Guidelines and recommendations for IL services are very detailed. Interoperability is the underlying principle. Australia AGLS has a very useful 'Manual for Users' that details the Australian metadata standard for govt agencies that publish material about their services or for their users on the web.
RLG's Preserving Digital Information, Policies for preservation of digital materials Intellectual Property Rights Issues, 2 refs at ISO 14000 group of standards - esp. ISO14001 EMS (Environmental management systems). is a resource centre for those implementing ISO 14K. useful links, newsletter and discussion. Mike Middleton's site has lots of material and links on controlled vocabularies and thesaurii, Also on classification schemes. Good for resource for staff training.
Resource Description Framework (RDF) Schema Specification, CIESIN, Consortium for International Earth Science Information Network, Their Guide to Metadata and other documentation provide a useful model. The site includes links to key datasets as well as an interactive version of the CIESIN Indexing Vocabulary and other metadata resources such as GILS, AACR2, DC and DIF.
Diffuse Project is working on standards for interchange of spatially organised data see
ANZLIC the Spatial Information Council, has developed guidelines for using metadata policy guidelines for good management of public sector spatial data. See International Geographic Information Foundation (IGIF) This is a new site, The European Environment Agency hosts GELOS, Global Environmental Locator Service, Also hosted by European Environment Information and Observation Network (EIONET), software available free to environmental organisations, but seems not be updated. Can't find much on this site by way of policy, guidelines, standards - GELOS is one of a suite of other services, buried on the EEA site. Software from site in German. GELOS was one of the prototypes for GIST. Mercury "A multifunctional tool for managing and delivering varied formats of information to CFS users" with links to other content providers eg. Elsevier's ScienceDirect (not checked, no url yet)
Netskills is a training agency, TONIC is a self-paced web tutorial for internet beginners. Support services for internet trainers. SmartForce,, is a corporate provider of self-paced electronic learning packages covering a wide range of IT skills at different levels. The product library option may be relevant within GFIS.
EIONET, has best practice notes available online. Training programmes offered, include technical data management training. The current GIP is a document similar to what is needed for the GFIS handbook PDF at The Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC), Maintains a list of registered metadata trainers. Also a training calendar. Both only US but current. 1
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