The BOREAS Information System

Documenting BOREAS Data Sets and Models

This Web page is designed for people who collected BOREAS data and are now trying to create documentation for their data sets. You may be wondering why we here at the BOREAS Information System (BORIS) put so much emphasis on the documentation as well as the data -- well read on...

Why is Documentation Important?

Documentation allows your data to be used properly by other people. It is very important for the long-term usability of the complete BOREAS Data Set that all the data included be fully documented. Remember, many people over the next 20 years may be using your data, and not all of them are in your field. Your documentation needs to be like a lab report -- clear enough so that a user can make sense of the data and your collection procedures. We at BORIS understand that this process is difficult, and a nuisance, but it really needs to be done, and we are trying to make it easier for you.

The BOREAS Documentation Outline

In order to aid in the creation of your data set or model documentation, we have created an outline (a blank document) filled with comments to help you fill in all the sections of the document. If you are not clear on how to fill out some section, check one of the sample documents listed below to see how others have done it.

View the current BOREAS Data Set Documentation Outline
View the current BOREAS Model Documentation Outline

The BOREAS documentation follows a standard format. All documents have the same structure to ease working with several diverse data sets. This standard structure must encompass data types as diverse as soil-type classifications and Landsat images, and some sections will not apply to your data set. Simply fill these sections in as "Not Applicable", or if you do not have the information, enter "Not Known". Please try to fill in all sections, so that future users know that certain information does not exist, and they do not have to continue looking through the document for it.
The descriptions in each section should be detailed enough to allow a new user to confidently use the data without the necessity of contacting the group who provided the data (that's you). The level of the documentation should be aimed to a graduate student or an investigator working outside of his/her field.
This version of the data documentation outline follows the standard one used by the NASA Distributed Active Archive Centers (DAACs) -- the main repository for all NASA data (and the eventual destination of all BOREAS data and documentation). It is organized differently than the outline found in the 1994 BOREAS Experiment Plan. Several years ago, the NASA DAACs adopted parts of the original BOREAS Documentation Outline for use in their entire data system, but they had to modify it to cover all of their different data types. To comply with this new and improved DAAC format, we have replaced our old 15-part format with the new 20-part format. The new format is not very different in content from the old format -- if you have a document in the old format, click here to see how to change it to the new format.

General Guidelines for Writing BOREAS Documents

In general, the data documents need to include all information that someone who has no knowledge of BOREAS would need to understand your data set. This means that you should include basic descriptions of the instruments, your collection methods, your calibration methods, and especially the problems you encountered that may affect the data.
It is important for you to follow the guidelines listed below. BORIS expects to receive over 300 data set documents. Editing and processing all of these documents is a enourmous undertaking, and if you follow these simple rules, it would help us tremendously.
  1. Left justify all text and section headings.
  2. Do not mix graphics in with the text sections. We are working on the details regarding graphics. For now, please submit digital versions in separate files and clear hardcopy versions of any graphics you refer to in the text sections and leave a labeled/designated space for the graphics inclusion.
  3. Do not use tabs for formatting tables. Please use blank spaces to get the desired spacing.
  4. Let text lines wrap naturally unless specific line breaks are required for tables and new paragraphs.
  5. Set your margins to allow a maximum of 80 characters per line and use a fixed width font rather than proportional ones. We suggest using a 10 pt Courier font with left and right margins of 1.0 and 0.8 inches, respectively.
  6. When using acronyms, spell them out first followed by the acronym in parentheses. Please include all acronyms in Section 19 in alphabetic order. If formulas are being used for chemical compounds write out the compound name with the formula for the first occurrence of the name.
  7. Use dates in the form of "dd-mon-yyyy" (e.g., 10-JAN-1994). Day of Year may be used but also include this standard date format.
  8. References in section 17 should be left justified and allow the text lines to wrap naturally as the other text. Separate references with blank text lines.
  9. Each section of the document is important, you should try to fill in as much of the outline as possible. Repetition of information in different sections is acceptable. If a section does not apply, please enter the phrase "Not Applicable". If you do not have the information requested, "Not Known" is an acceptable entry for that section.

Sample BOREAS Documents

Here is a collection of sample BOREAS data set and modelling documents that you can view in order to see how others wrote up their data and models.

Aircraft Flux and Meteorology (AFM)
not ready yet (sorry)

Hydrology (HYD)
HYD-9 Stream Gauge Data

Remote Sensing Sciences (RSS)
RSS-2 ASAS Aircraft Data
RSS-8 BIOME-BGC Model Data

Terrestrial Ecology (TE)
TE-9 Nitrogen and Photosynthesis Data
TE-9 PAR & Nitrogen Profile Data

Trace Gas Biogeochemistry (TGB)
TGB-9 Non-Methane Hydrocarbon Data

Tower Flux (TF)
not ready yet (sorry)

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Last Updated: July 28, 1997