There’s been important discussion lately about how to make research more inclusive, equitable, diverse, and global. See the recent 2018 International Open Access Week, and International Data Week, happening now in Gaborne, Botswana, with the theme “Digital Frontiers of Global Science.”
Dryad is among these organizations seeking to provide sustainable, open scholarly infrastructure that is accessible to all. As such, we use the CC0 license exclusively, and offer fee waivers for researchers based in countries classified by the World Bank as low-income or lower-middle-income economies. Our burgeoning partnership with California Digital Library promises to make data publishing even easier for all researchers.
In celebration of a global perspective, the Dryad curation team has selected a few data packages that highlight both a wide geographic range and a collaborative approach to research projects.
Penguin imaging and classification in Antarctica
Antarctica may be a fine spot for penguins, but the cold conditions make it an inhospitable location for human beings to spend long periods. It is especially challenging for scientists engaged in gathering data under the frigid conditions and for their equipment. Two recent Dryad data packages highlight how scientists have addressed this chilly challenge with the use of remote observation systems. One provides data from a remote‐controlled system designed for information gathering, and the other employs citizen science to process large numbers of time-lapse images gathered remotely from an automated system.
The images that comprise the data from the Zooniverse project Penguin Watch are much more than just cool photos of penguins. They are the result of automated time-lapse cameras used for reliably and consistently monitoring wild penguin populations. The data includes 73,802 photos captured by 15 different Penguin Watch cameras, and the authors expressed the hope that annotated time-lapse imagery can be used to train machine learning algorithms to extract data automatically and perhaps for computer vision development.
The video and images from Richter et al. were taken by a self-sufficient remote-controlled observatory designed to operate year-round in extreme cold-weather conditions. The observatory has been capturing high-resolution images of penguins, along with other data, since 2013 using “multiple overview cameras and a high-resolution steerable camera with a telephoto lens.” The resulting images and video provide information on the life cycle, demographics, and behavior of the animals. For example, the dataset shows how the movement of penguins as individuals and as a group might be associated with the speed and direction of the wind.
Both datasets show how remote observation systems can be used by human investigators in various locations to collect data on animal populations, even in areas of the world which provide challenges to scientists.
— Debra Fagan
Collaborating across disciplines in Indonesia
An international team of researchers reveal new knowledge about “co-infections,” multiple infectious diseases that attack the immune system at once. Budischak et al. (2018) used principles of ecological theory to answer questions about helminth-malaria co-infection in human hosts. Rather than measuring prevalence of malaria after deworming, as previous studies had done with varied results, Budischak et al. measured the density of specific species within an individual over time.
The researchers hypothesized that competition for resources, in this case red blood cells, would have an affect on the density of those species within the host. Data and samples originally collected for a 2 year placebo-controlled deworming trial in Indonesia were analyzed, and they found that when bloodsucking helminth species were removed, the density of Plasmodium vivax, which rely specifically on young red blood cells, increased 2.75-fold. This increase is enough to adversely affect the health of an individual, and heighten the chances that mosquitoes will transmit the P. vivax from one individual to another.
The researchers suggest that where resources allow, health care providers should consider the specific species that are co-infecting an individual, and weigh the cost-benefits of deworming at that time. These findings lay the groundwork for novel treatments of malaria and worm infections.
— Erin Clary
Assessing the potential of environmental citizen science in East Africa
Data from: Developing the global potential of citizen science: Assessing opportunities that benefit people, society and the environment in East Africa / associated article in the Journal of Applied Ecology
Citizen science projects often suffer from limited visibility in developing countries. Recognizing this difficulty, these authors undertook a collaborative process with experts to assess the potential for environmental citizen science in East Africa. The .csv file published in Dryad contains scores given by workshop participants in relation to various opportunities, benefits and barriers, which serve as the basis for principles that are applicable more widely.
Importantly, the project emphasizes the benefits of citizen science not just to the natural environment, but for creating a more informed and empowered populace.
Fighting lupus in Latin America
Dryad recently published data underlying collaborative research by the Latin American Group for the Study of Lupus (GLADEL) and the Pan-American League of Associations of Rheumatology (PANLAR). Both groups consisted of experienced Latin American rheumatologists who gathered together in Panama City to discuss special problems faced by patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) in Latin America.
The group started the research process by putting together a list of questions addressing clinical issues most commonly seen in Latin American patients. The team used the Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluation (GRADE) system to answer these questions with the best available evidence. Summarized preliminary findings were used to develop a framework for therapies and treatments. The underlying dataset published by Dryad consists of tables describing the groups’ main findings of therapeutic interventions by organ/systems in SLE using the GRADE approach.
This dataset has potential for reuse and would be an excellent resource for the of study of lupus in the hopes of improving outcomes in Latin America and worldwide.
— Shavon Stewart