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Holistic and pragmatic standards processes enable interdisciplinary science
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  • Mark Parsons,
  • Daniel Berrios,
  • Emily Foshee,
  • Ahmed Eleish,
  • Kaylin Bugbee
Mark Parsons
University of Alabama in Huntsville, University of Alabama in Huntsville

Corresponding Author:[email protected]

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Daniel Berrios
NASA Ames Research Center, NASA Ames Research Center
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Emily Foshee
University of Alabama in Huntsville, University of Alabama in Huntsville
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Ahmed Eleish
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
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Kaylin Bugbee
NASA Marshal Space Flight Center, NASA Marshal Space Flight Center
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Open, interdisciplinary science inevitably relies heavily on standards. Standards are those often unseen agreements that we take for granted when systems and processes are working fine. Yet standards work is perpetual, laborious, and sometimes contentious, especially for standards to work across diverse disciplines. Standards development, maintenance, and implementation is a complex, ongoing socio-technical process. NASA has developed a progressively open science policy and strategy that calls for the establishment of a data standards process reaching across the five diverse divisions of the Science Mission Directorate. This is a delicate exercise. We, therefore, seek to apply a holistic yet pragmatic approach to developing and maintaining a standards process. We adopt an ecological philosophy that focuses on the interactions within the data ecosystem and how standards facilitate those interactions. We couple high-level analysis with on the ground experimentation. We began by 1) mapping information ecosystem components (e.g. data centers, missions, services, protocols, users), 2) establishing how the components interact (e.g. sharing (meta)data, funding, personnel exchange), and 3) modelling system dynamics (e.g. creation of products from multiple data centers, redundant processes, shared services). The goal is to apply understanding of the ecosystem to real world applications (e.g. planning a new mission, implementing new policy requirements, improving process efficiency, etc.). We have also conducted studies of historical standardization efforts, documenting lessons learned and cautionary tales. We then contrast this more abstract work with real examples. We reviewed and assessed multiple existing standards development processes both within and external to NASA. We now work to implement an initial test process which can be further optimized. We seek to define a consistent approach for assigning persistent identifiers for research objects, especially for the purposes of citation. The experience from this relatively ‘simple’ test case adds a pragmatic perspective on how researchers and engineers actually work. This presentation will review the details of this methodology and our initial findings.