Overall goal for data management in the Geologic Division
Our goal is to make the research results of the Division worth the money they cost the Nation and the time it takes for users to obtain and interpret them, by ensuring that the data products we provide help other organizations get their work done.
Questions and answers
- Why state this goal?
- So we can determine whether proposed policies support the goal or lead us in the opposite direction. My PD brings me into contact with policy-making (and policy-wannabe-making) groups drawn from across the Bureau; in those idealistic milieux I need to be able to say why I'm so focused on practical results.
- Whose goal is this?
- Mine. I have not even attempted to have this goal codified in Division policy or openly supported by management. The Geologic Division is diverse enough to have many different goals. This is one that could motivate a significant part of our activities, but does not address important long-term scientific needs directly. On the other hand, it is important to guide our technical activities in the near term. The Science Strategy does not do that effectively.
- What does this goal mean?
- This goal implies that data will
and that we measure our progress towards this goal by observing the effective use of the data, not merely their availability or their quality (ensuring that other organizations get their work done).
- be produced efficiently (worth the money),
- be relevant to the needs of others (help other organizations),
- be well-documented,
easily available in convenient formats, and
usable in concert with related data products from others
(worth the time it takes for users),
- What about us? We are our most important customers!
- <snore> Sorry, I've heard this one too many times. Yes, we are important, but if we judge our own relevance only against our own needs, we cannot evaluate our work fairly and without bias. Most of the hard work of being a scientist is facing honestly what we do know and what we don't. The best way to evaluate our work is to explain and defend it to other people, people who care about the results, not to people who care only that the results be availabile, or who care only that the results be accurate, but people who need to know what they are and what they mean.