Managing scientific data: The EMAP approach
Hale SS, Hughes MM, Bender DR, Paul JF, Rego SA, McAskill RS, Richter TL, Copeland JL, Keith DJ, Rossner LF.
Assessing estuarine status often requires data sets from several different databases, particularly when watershed, atmospheric, and oceanic influences must be considered. It is rare for any one organization to be able to conduct sufficient studies to obtain a complete picture or to maintain a comprehensive, consistent, well-described database management system for the estuaries of a regional area. As the federal Committee on Environment and Natural Resources develops a national monitoring framework, research conducted by EPA's Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) is increasingly dependent on data sets that are collected and managed by other organizations. Common standards, data directories, and data descriptions for databases with distributed ownership allow data of interest to be located, downloaded, and understood. The EMAP Data Directory is an Oracle database containing enough information about a data set for a user to determine if the data are of interest. Data sets in the possession of EMAP are accessible on the EMAP WWW site (http://www.epa.gov/emap). The EMAP Data Catalog contains metadata about data sets so that a user can understand enough about the methods, assumptions, and quality to use the data appropriately.