Data Science Open Notebook

This entry is the first in a series of entries intended to facilitate open notebook science  as part of a graduate research assistantship funded by DataONE.  An open notebook is intended for the immediate communication of the results of scientific inquiry, among other things.

All posts made by the author (Tanner Jessel) will be tagged with the category “Data Science.”  I requested this category because I felt it captured the intersection of scientific data with information science.  I am also interested in “doing science with data,” in particularly, data that already exists.  Data mining, statistical analysis, network analysis, all of these topics interest me and I hope to apply principles and methods in my research.

I am personally inspired by my friend Carl Boettiger’s open lab notebook at  Carl has a fairly sophisticated infrastructure set up, appropriate as he does some sophisticated science. He initially ran his open notebook on a WordPress site, so I’m glad to follow his footsteps.  His more advanced setup is described at; I’ll try and follow his lead as well as I can.

Carl makes the important distinction on his open notebook: “this is not a blog.”  While I would like to provide a highly polished, blog-like entry for every entry made on this web log, I also recognize that aspiring to that goal may hinder the immediate publishing of any research I am doing – or perhaps take time away from research itself.  Therefore, I will not, and ask that you, the reader, do not hold me to provide any coherent structure in these entries. I will make an effort to find a balance between expediency and legibility.  I hope to use this platform to capture ideas and notes related to my ongoing research effort as part of DataONE – I can’t guarantee that the ideas and notes captured here will make sense to anyone but myself.

Perspective on the author seems appropriate.  I am currently a Masters candidate at the University of Tennessee School of Information Science, based in the Center for Information and Communication Studies.  I’m particularly interested in environmental information management as I have Bachelor’s of Science in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Following my graduation in 2006, I was lucky enough to have a unique skillset of technology skills and training in ecology, and become involved with the National Biological Information Infrastructure, an information hub for wildlife and environmental data.  I worked with the NBII from July 2007 until October 2011 when the program I worked on was closed out as part of the NBII program’s termination. The NBII combined my love of wildlife with my love of technology, and I’m grateful I had the opportunity to learn much about scientific data management and work with some great people equally passionate about technology and managing environmental information.  In fact, I still get to hang out and share ideas with several former colleagues who worked with the NBII program, as they lend their expertise to the DataONE’s development.

I want to thank Dr. Suzie Allard and Dr. Carol Tenopir, who have given me the opportunity to work with DataONE on a daily basis through a DataONE assistantship.  I initially approached the UT School of Information Science out of interest in the SciData program, but was fortunate that a GRA with DataONE had opened up.  Obviously I’m a great fan of the National Science Foundation as well, for making my continued education possible.

The University of Tennessee School of Information Science emphasizes to first-year Masters candidates the importance of reflective practice.  This is not something that was explicitly taught in my undergraduate career, or in my professional life.  I am optimistic that this online web log will serve as not only an open notebook, but an opportunity for me to reflect on my research as a matter of practice.

About Tanner Jessel

I am a graduate research assistant funded by DataONE and pursuing a Masters in Information Sciences with an Interdisciplinary Graduate Minor in Computational Science. I assist scholarly research efforts supporting the Sociocultural, Usability and Assessment, and Member Nodes working groups within DataONE. I am based at the Center for Information and Communication Studies at the University of Tennessee School of Information Science in Knoxville, Tennessee.

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