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PLoS One. 2019 Oct 23;14(10):e0222807. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0222807. eCollection 2019.

Measuring sustainability of seed-funded earth science informatics projects.

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1
U.S. Geological Survey, Science Analytics and Synthesis, Denver, Colorado, United States of America.

Abstract

Short term funding is a common funding model for informatics projects. Funders are interested in maximizing the sustainability and accessibility of the outputs, but there are no commonly accepted practices to do so in the Earth sciences informatics field. We constructed and applied a framework for sustainability drawing from other disciplines that have more published work focusing on sustainability of projects. This framework had seven sustainability influences (outputs modified, code repository used, champion present, workforce stability, support from other organizations, collaboration/partnership, and integration with policy), and three ways of defining sustainability (at the individual-, organization-, and community-level). Using this framework, we evaluated outputs of projects funded by the U.S. Geological Survey's Community for Data Integration (CDI). We found that the various outputs are widely accessible, but not necessarily sustained or maintained. Projects with most sustainability influences often became institutionalized and met required needs of the community. Even if proposed outputs were not delivered or sustained, knowledge of lessons learned could be spread to build community capacity in a topic, which is another type of sustainability. We conclude by summarizing lessons for individuals applying for short-term funding, and for organizations managing programs that provide such funding, for maximizing sustainability of project outcomes.

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