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Harvard Forest Data Archive

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An Introduction to the HF Data Archive

The HF Data Archive contains scientific data collected over the last 35 years by scientists working at Harvard Forest plus selected data from earlier studies recorded in the HF Archives.  Datasets include both long-term and short-term field measurements as well as historical, paleoecological, and modeling studies. As a general rule, datasets are included in the HF Data Archive if they support a publication or are deemed to have long-term scientific value, regardless of the source of funding.

The HF Data Archive provides direct links to data and metadata for each project. Datasets can be browsed or searched using metadata encoded in EML (Ecological Metadata Language) and managed with eXist-db (an open source native XML database). Tabular data are stored as comma-delimited text files. Spatial data, images, and other kinds of data are stored in formats in common use today. Large files may be compressed in zip format. Previews of tabular data are prepared using an R script.

Harvard Forest datasets are freely available for downloading and subsequent use.  Prospective users are asked to pay close attention to the HF Data Policies regarding the use of Harvard Forest data.

Researchers must submit a Research Project Application annually for every new and continuing project at the Forest. Instructions on preparing materials for the Data Archive may be found in Guidelines for Submission of Data & Metadata. Individual scientists prepare their own data and metadata files, which are checked, reformatted, and posted by HF information management staff. Primary responsibility for quality control rests with the individual scientist. Datasets are posted as received. A systematic update of the Data Archive is performed each spring in advance of the summer field season.

All datasets in the HF Data Archive are also submitted to the EDI (Ecological Data Initiative) repository, which retains all submitted versions and assigns a digital object identifier (DOI) to each version. In nearly all cases, the dataset posted in the HF Data Archive matches the most recent submission to EDI.  In a few cases, data collected by sensor networks may be updated more frequently in the HF Data Archive; e.g., data from the HF weather station are updated monthly in the HF Data Archive and annually in EDI.