AOOS Research Workspace

Use of the Workspace

  • Current users: ~ 180 individuals
  • Number of files uploaded: ~ 3,100
  • User Log-in link
  • If your program or research group is interested in using the workspace, please contact Rob Bochenek at

About the Workspace

The AOOS Research Workspace is a prototype, web-based data management solution for assembling, storing, and sharing data between members of the biological and physical oceanography communities. The Workspace offers users an intuitive interface that allows users to create projects, which are analogous to scientific studies or specific directions of effort. Within each project, users may create topical groupings of data using folders and upload data and descriptive literature to their project by simply dragging and dropping files from their desktop into their web-browser.

How Do You Interact with the Workspace? 

A screenshot of the user interface

Users of the Workspace are organized into groups based on their projects, and everyone within a group can view all of the projects, folders, and files uploaded by other group members. This allows preliminary results and interpretations to be shared by geographically or scientifically diverse individuals who are working together on a project or program before the data is shared with the public. Sharing data within the Workspace also provides an opportunity for users to self-organize, collaborate on, and peer review their own organizational structure, data, and formats. It gives project and program managers a transparent and front-row view of how users have structured and described projects, and how their programs are progressing through time. And it provides data managers an opportunity to provide data management recommendations to user groups while projects are still in progress.

Who is Currently Using the Workspace?

  • North Pacific Research Board’s Gulf of Alaska Project
  • Gulf Watch Alaska – the long term monitoring program of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council
  • Prince William Sound Science Center
  • Chukchi Sea Environmental Studies Program
  • Russian-American Long Term Census of the Arctic (RUSALCA)

About the Software

The Workspace is a web-based data management system built on open-source software and focuses on addressing the acute needs of scientists working together across organizational and disciplinary boundaries. This platform is continuously improved based on analysis of user workflows, and all users and organizations in the Workspace benefit from incremental feature refinements. The Workspace currently has the following capabilities:

  • Secure group, user, and project profiles

Users of the Workspace have a password protected user profile which is associated with one or more disciplinary groups or research programs. Users may navigate between their groups or programs to view and share data. Transfer of data and information occur over Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption for all interactions with the Workspace. The Workspace supports Google’s applications authentication system, so if users are already logged into a Google applications account (e.g., Gmail, Google Docs, etc.), they can launch the Workspace without the need to re-authenticate.

  • Metadata authoring

The Workspace provides investigators with an intuitive interface to author descriptive and rights-management metadata for projects in the Workspace. The metadata elements currently available to researchers in the Workspace were originally designed for the Federal Geographic Data Committee (FGDC) designed Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata (CSDGM) and the FGDC endorsed Biological Data Profile of the CSDGM, and have been extended to support the ISO 19115 standard for geospatial metadata. The metadata editor includes an integrated FGDC biological profile extension editor that allows users to search the ~500,000 taxonomic entities of the Integrated Taxonomic Information System (ITIS) and rapidly generate the metadata compliant taxonomies.

Most importantly, the Workspace operates as a cloud-based service and is accessed through a web browser interface, allowing researchers to move between computers during the metadata generation process in addition to allowing team members and administrators to simultaneously review and edit metadata in real time.

Screen captures of the Workspace metadata interface. The left capture shows the interface to author basic descriptive and citation metadata fields. The right capture displays a tool which allows researchers to define the geographic extent of the project, keywords, FGDC biological profile information and data constraints.

  • User-friendly, secure file management

The core functionality of the Workspace is the ability to securely manage and share project-level digital resources in real-time with version control. The Workspace functions as a working platform for sharing preliminary data sets and other digital resources among researchers and study teams. Users of the Workspace are provided with tools that allow them to bulk upload files, organize those documents into folders or collections, and organize projects with user-created tags. The Workspace also has the ability to track file versions: if a user re-uploads a file of the same name, the Workspace displays the most current version, but stores and provides access to past versions as well.

Screen captures of project and file management in the Workspace. The left screenshot shows a list of projects to which the example user has access rights. The right screenshot displays the interface a PI would use to organize independent files into collections or folders, and the versioning capabilities of the Workspace: if a file is uploaded with the same name into the same folder, the Workspace tracks the individual versions.


Comments are closed.