Frequently Asked Questions - Submitting and using Data

What types of data will the eAtlas publish?

The eAtlas publishes environmental datasets about tropical Australia, with a particular focus on the Great Barrier Reef, its catchments, Torres Strait and North West Australia. The eAtlas automatically accepts data from NESP TWQ projects, but will also publish other relevant datasets that complement the existing catalogue. It has a strong focus on publishing data that has good potential for reuse by others and can be released under an open license such as creative commons attribution.

How do I submit data to the eAtlas?

Please follow the Submitting data to the eAtlas guide.

In what file format(s) should I submit my data?

Due to the diversity of datatypes hosted by the repository, the eAtlas does not require a single file format, or even set of file formats, but rather encourages users to follow accepted community standards where they exist. Users are strongly encouraged to ensure that data can be easily extracted from the files provided (e.g., by using CSV rather than PDF).

To maximize accessibility and preservability, the eAtlas always prefers non-proprietary, openly documented formats. However, data submitted to the eAtlas should also be optimized for reanalysis and reuse.

For example, for a table of values, the eAtlas's preferred format is CSV; however, a spreadsheet that was created and formatted using Microsoft Excel may optimize reuse by remaining in XLS format. For this reason the eAtlas accepts more than just the preservation-friendly formats listed below.

We would recommend that tabular data (spreadsheets and csv files) adopt the principals outlined in Wickham (2013) Tidy Data, where variables are stored in columns, observations are stored in rows and each observational unit forms a table. This particular format makes processing of the data far more straight forward.

Text: plain text (ASCII, UTF-8), Open Office formats

Tabular data: Comma-separated (or otherwise delimited) values for tabular data or XLS


Note that images should be be tagged with metadata using the eAtlas Image Metadata Editor, or if there are only a few images then they can be submitted with the eAtlas Image Submission Form.

Reports: PDF

Compressed/archived formats: GZIP/TAR, ZIP

Files may be compressed and/or archived when necessary due to large file size, a large number of files (more than 10), or the need to gather files together in a particular directory structure in order for them to be understood.

GIS files: Shapefile, GeoTiff, NetCDF

The eAtlas also welcomes the submission of data in multiple formats, to help anticipate various reuse scenarios.

How do I cite the data in my manuscript?

Data citation practices are actively evolving and vary among journals. The eAtlas does not have a recommendation for the placement of data citations. Some publishing organizations, such as CrossRef, recommend reporting the data both in the text (e.g., within the Methods or in a dedicated Data Availability section) and in the Bibliography.

When referencing data in the text, we recommend the following as a template (substitute your UUID suffix for the xxxxx):

Data available from the eAtlas Repository:

In the Bibliography, we recommend a citation similar to:

Grech A., Sheppard J. and Marsh H. (2011). Dataset: Torres Strait Dugong distribution and relative density - Spatial model of aerial surveys from 1987 - 2011 (NERP TE 2.1, JCU) [Dataset].eAtlas Repository.

Catterall C., Freebody K. and Shoo L. (2012). Aerial photo mosaic of Atherton Tablelands in June 1978 (NERP TE 12.2, Griffith, source: DERM) [Dataset]. eAtlas Repository.

Lawrey E. (2013). Queensland Ship Vessel Tracking (AIS) May - Aug 2013 (NERP TE 13.1 eAtlas, source: AMSA) [Dataset]. eAtlas Repository.

Beaman, R. (2012). Project 3DGBR: Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea Geomorphic Features (JCU) [Dataset]. eAtlas Repository.

How may data from eAtlas be reused?

The datasets in the eAtlas are made available under a range of licenses depending on the source of the data. Some datasets are restricted and not available for download, in which case you would need to contact the author of the data to access it. In other cases the data is available for download, but there are licensing restrictions that must be complied with. To know what you can do with a dataset you should check the Data Usage Constraints section of the dataset page.

By default most datasets on the eAtlas are made available under a Creative Commons Attribution license which allows you to use the dataset in any manner you like as long as the dataset is properly attributed. For how to do this see how to cite datasets.

Do I have to pay to download or use the data?

No, all the content in eAtlas is free to download and reuse.

What are the requirements for a dataset to be published in the eAtlas?

For a dataset to be published as a full record (metadata record and downloadable data) it must meet the following minimum standard. This includes:

  1. Is the dataset relevant for understanding the environment (or how people use or value the environment) of Australia?
  2. Is the dataset documented sufficiently so that others can understand and use the data? This includes basic questions such as
    1. What is the dataset about?
    2. What methods were used in its collection and creation?
    3. Is a data dictionary provided that describes the data fields, any non-obvious codes and data units?
    4. Who created the dataset?
    5. When was the data collected/created?
    6. What is the license that it is made available under?
  3. Is the dataset free of logical inconsistencies or errors due to poor data cleaning and preparation?
  4. Is the data in a format that can be reused by others? If not, can it be easily converted?
  5. Is the dataset likely to be useful in applications other than the original research?

Datasets that do not meet this standard may not be published as full records, but will be recorded as a "Dataset teaser", which is in effect a simplified metadata record.

What is the review process applied to datasets submitted to the eAtlas?

Data submitted to the eAtlas is reviewed by the editors to ensure that the datasets meet a minimum level of quality prior to publication (see What is the requirements for a dataset to be published in the eAtlas?).

The eAtlas team provides a curated service and will review and attempt to resolve and improve the dataset documentation issues from associated papers and technical reports, clean obvious data errors and reformat the data into open formats for publication. Any these issues and questions will be sent back to the researcher for clarification and confirmation. Once these issues are resolved the dataset will be published.

While the datasets are not peer reviewed, they are reviewed by the eAtlas editors.

(Sections of text in this FAQ were based on the the FAQ page from Dryad.)