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Integr Comp Biol. 2017 Jul 1;57(1):33-47. doi: 10.1093/icb/icx060.

Data Management Rubric for Video Data in Organismal Biology.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA.
Department of Biological Sciences, Clemson University, Clemson, SC 29634, USA.
Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA.
Brown University Library, Brown University, Providence, RI 02912, USA.
Department of Biology, California State University Fresno, 2555 E San Ramon Avenue, Fresno, CA 93740, USA.


Standards-based data management facilitates data preservation, discoverability, and access for effective data reuse within research groups and across communities of researchers. Data sharing requires community consensus on standards for data management, such as storage and formats for digital data preservation, metadata (i.e., contextual data about the data) that should be recorded and stored, and data access. Video imaging is a valuable tool for measuring time-varying phenotypes in organismal biology, with particular application for research in functional morphology, comparative biomechanics, and animal behavior. The raw data are the videos, but videos alone are not sufficient for scientific analysis. Nearly endless videos of animals can be found on YouTube and elsewhere on the web, but these videos have little value for scientific analysis because essential metadata such as true frame rate, spatial calibration, genus and species, weight, age, etc. of organisms, are generally unknown. We have embarked on a project to build community consensus on video data management and metadata standards for organismal biology research. We collected input from colleagues at early stages, organized an open workshop, "Establishing Standards for Video Data Management," at the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology meeting in January 2017, and then collected two more rounds of input on revised versions of the standards. The result we present here is a rubric consisting of nine standards for video data management, with three levels within each standard: good, better, and best practices. The nine standards are: (1) data storage; (2) video file formats; (3) metadata linkage; (4) video data and metadata access; (5) contact information and acceptable use; (6) camera settings; (7) organism(s); (8) recording conditions; and (9) subject matter/topic. The first four standards address data preservation and interoperability for sharing, whereas standards 5-9 establish minimum metadata standards for organismal biology video, and suggest additional metadata that may be useful for some studies. This rubric was developed with substantial input from researchers and students, but still should be viewed as a living document that should be further refined and updated as technology and research practices change. The audience for these standards includes researchers, journals, and granting agencies, and also the developers and curators of databases that may contribute to video data sharing efforts. We offer this project as an example of building community consensus for data management, preservation, and sharing standards, which may be useful for future efforts by the organismal biology research community.

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