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Data Collection and Use Policy

To meet evolving needs of researchers, we have developed this set of policies to guide additions to and use of the legacy ecological data we and our predecessors have collected. These reflect input from many contributors and users of the Plant Ecology Laboratory (PEL) data based in Birge Hall, Department of Botany, University of Wisconsin – Madison. It describes standards that we are seeking to establish, both for contributing new data to data sets, and for accessing and using existing and forthcoming data. We also address associated authorship and acknowledgement issues.

All scientists currently working with PEL data benefit from the fact John Curtis and his students carefully collected and archived their data. These data represent a treasure trove for ecologists seeking to understand community dynamics and the nature and drivers of ecological change. Our goal here is to extend and expand the utility of these data by establishing clear standards for acquiring new data and for using existing data while simultaneously protecting the intellectual rights of those engaged in collecting these data.

We first lay out general principles intended to guide the collection of data for PEL work, its incorporation into these data sets, and proper storage (A. Principles for data collection, documentation, and storage). We emphasize the importance of quality control and taxonomic accuracy in the data collected and standards to ensure that these data will be archived carefully to ensure that later researchers will have access to these legacy data. Succeeding sections draw on these principles to provide more specific guidelines for those seeking to either contribute data to the PEL archives (B.) or to use these data (C.). Finally, section D. outlines guidelines for collaborations, authorship, and acknowledgements.


Prof. Don Waller 608-263-2042 dmwaller AT wisc.edu
Prof. Tom Givnish 608-262-5718 givnish AT wisc.edu

Data Request Form

Click here for a pdf version of this policy

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