Ship space to database: Motivations to manage research data for the deep subseafloor biosphere

Peter T. Darch, Christine L. Borgman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


What motivates data management strategies of scientific collaborations? In this paper, we argue that infrastructures for data management are designed to support scientific work per se and to perform a variety of social functions. We present findings from a longitudinal ethnographic case study of a large, multidisciplinary, distributed scientific project studying subseafloor microbial life. A critical element of this project's plan for data management is to construct an online portal that includes a data registry and data repository. We found that a range of factors motivate the construction of these systems and their features. In addition to scientific concerns for curation and accessibility of diverse and scarce data, we argue that the building of the registry and repository is also motivated by social factors. One factor is the attempt to build a community of domain researchers to endure beyond the end of this project in 2020. Another is the potential use of the registry and database as tools to demonstrate the productivity of the project in negotiations about the allocation of ocean drilling cruise resources. Considering the social and scientific factors together enriches accounts of how knowledge infrastructures are constructed. Copyright is retained by the author(s).

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalProceedings of the ASIST Annual Meeting
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Big data
  • Data curation
  • Data management
  • Knowledge infrastructures
  • Little science
  • Microbiology
  • Multidisciplinary science
  • Scientific databases
  • Small science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences


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