From locally to globally FAIRified (meta)data management: Reflections and outcomes from an Arctic Molecular Observatory
High-quality (meta)data management begins long before deposition in large-scale archiving services. All research and operations personnel must share custodianship of (meta)data as part of contemporary research culture, allowing its value to be secured and rapidly realized. To this end, we have established a (meta)data management approach which links the Frontiers in Arctic Marine Monitoring (FRAM) Programme’s Molecular Observatory to global digital ecosystems. The Observatory monitors microbial community dynamics across latitudinal, depth, and temporal gradients, providing valuable information from a remote and rapidly changing region. It is thus crucial to preserve high-quality and rich (meta)data, such that it can be discovered, understood, and re-used by future generations. Our approach centers on a simple relational metadatabase, which structures and validates environmental, contextual, and procedural metadata generated from the field, through the lab, to the in-silico processing and archiving of FRAM’s multi-omic sequence data. Above the technology, we emphasize the metadatabase’s design, which aligns our local metadata – from its creation – with institutional archives, community standards, and data stored in international archives (e.g. the European Nucleotide Archive and PANGAEA). This local solution supports operational-grade data stewardship within FRAM, while supporting global interoperability by exporting (meta)data compliant with specifications such as the MIxS (Minimum Information about any (x) Sequence) developed by the Genomic Standards Consortium (GSC). To boost interoperability further, we are leading an effort to align MIxS to the Darwin Core specification. We also support our personnel’s pursuit of compliance and accuracy by pre-selecting appropriate Arctic and deep-sea content from more complex components of such standards. We stand ready to produce additional exports to connect our holdings with other global standards and interoperability frameworks, such as UNESCO’s Ocean Data and Information System. Here, we present the status and reflections on our multi-pronged approach to practically FAIRifying data in an Arctic molecular observatory.