Astrolabe: Curating, Linking and Computing Astronomy's Dark Data [IMA]

Where appropriate repositories are not available to support all relevant astronomical data products, data can fall into darkness: unseen and unavailable for future reference and re-use. Some data in this category are legacy or old data, but newer datasets are also often uncurated and could remain “dark”. This paper provides a description of the design motivation and development of Astrolabe, a cyberinfrastructure project that addresses a set of community recommendations for locating and ensuring the long-term curation of dark or otherwise at-risk data and integrated computing. This paper also describes the outcomes of the series of community workshops that informed creation of Astrolabe. According to participants in these workshops, much astronomical dark data currently exist that are not curated elsewhere, as well as software that can only be executed by a few individuals and therefore becomes unusable because of changes in computing platforms. Additional astronomical research questions and challenges would be better addressed with integrated data and computational resources that fall outside the scope of existing observatory and space mission projects. As a solution, the design of the Astrolabe system is aimed at developing new resources for management of astronomical data. The project is based in CyVerse cyberinfrastructure technology and is a collaboration between the University of Arizona and the American Astronomical Society. Overall the project aims to support open access to research data by leveraging existing cyberinfrastructure resources and promoting scientific discovery by making potentially-useful data in a computable format broadly available to the astronomical community.

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P. Heidorn, G. Stahlman and J. Steffen
Tue, 13 Feb 18

Comments: Submitted to the Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, 22 pages, 2 figures

The ESO Survey of Non-Publishing Programmes [IMA]

One of the classic ways to measure the success of a scientific facility is the publication return, which is defined as the refereed papers produced per unit of allocated resources (for example, telescope time or proposals). The recent studies by Sterzik et al. (2015, 2016) have shown that 30-50 % of the programmes allocated time at ESO do not produce a refereed publication. While this may be inherent to the scientific process, this finding prompted further investigation. For this purpose, ESO conducted a Survey of Non-Publishing Programmes (SNPP) within the activities of the Time Allocation Working Group, a, similar to the monitoring campaign that was recently implemented at ALMA (Stoehr et al. 2016). The SNPP targeted 1278 programmes scheduled between ESO Periods 78 and 90 (October 2006 to March 2013) that had not published a refereed paper as of April 2016. The poll was launched on 6 May 2016, remained open for four weeks, and returned 965 valid responses. This article summarises and discusses the results of this survey, the first of its kind at ESO.

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F. Patat, H. Boffin, D. Bordelon, et. al.
Mon, 12 Feb 18

Comments: 10 pages, 4 figures, Appeared on The Messenger, 170, 51

Astrophysicists and physicists as creators of ArXiv-based commenting resources for their research communities. An initial survey [CL]

This paper conveys the outcomes of what results to be the first, though initial, overview of commenting platforms and related 2.0 resources born within and for the astrophysical community (from 2004 to 2016). Experiences were added, mainly in the physics domain, for a total of 22 major items, including four epijournals, and four supplementary resources, thus casting some light onto an unexpected richness and consonance of endeavours. These experiences rest almost entirely on the contents of the database ArXiv, which adds to its merits that of potentially setting the grounds for web 2.0 resources, and research behaviours, to be explored.
Most of the experiences retrieved are UK and US based, but the resulting picture is international, as various European countries, China and Australia have been actively involved.
Final remarks about creation patterns and outcome of these resources are outlined. The results integrate the previous studies according to which the web 2.0 is presently of limited use for communication in astrophysics and vouch for a role of researchers in the shaping of their own professional communication tools that is greater than expected. Collaterally, some aspects of ArXiv s recent pathway towards partial inclusion of web 2.0 features are touched upon. Further investigation is hoped for.

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M. Marra
Thu, 8 Feb 18

Comments: Journal article 16 pages

Best Practices for a Future Open Code Policy: Experiences and Vision of the Astrophysics Source Code Library [IMA]

We are members of the Astrophysics Source Code Library’s Advisory Committee and its editor-in-chief. The Astrophysics Source Code Library (ASCL, is a successful initiative that advocates for open research software and provides an infrastructure for registering, discovering, sharing, and citing this software. Started in 1999, the ASCL has been expanding in recent years, with an average of over 200 codes added each year, and now houses over 1,600 code entries.

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L. Shamir, B. Berriman, P. Teuben, et. al.
Mon, 5 Feb 18

Comments: White paper submitted to the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s Best Practices for a Future Open Code Policy for NASA Space Science Project Committee

On the Availability of ESO Data Papers on arXiv/astro-ph [IMA]

Using the ESO Telescope Bibliography database telbib, we have investigated the percentage of ESO data papers that were submitted to the arXiv/astro-ph e-print server and that are therefore free to read. Our study revealed an availability of up to 96% of telbib papers on arXiv over the years 2010 to 2017. We also compared the citation counts of arXiv vs. non-arXiv papers and found that on average, papers submitted to arXiv are cited 2.8 times more often than those not on arXiv. While simulations suggest that these findings are statistically significant, we cannot yet draw firm conclusions as to the main cause of these differences.

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U. Grothkopf, D. Bordelon, S. Meakins, et. al.
Thu, 11 Jan 18

Comments: 4 pages, 3 figures, 2 tables

The Unified Astronomy Thesaurus: Semantic Metadata for Astronomy and Astrophysics [IMA]

Several different controlled vocabularies have been developed and used by the astronomical community, each designed to serve a specific need and a specific group. The Unified Astronomy Thesaurus (UAT) attempts to provide a highly structured controlled vocabulary that will be relevant and useful across the entire discipline, regardless of content or platform. As two major use cases for the UAT include classifying articles and data, we examine the UAT in comparison with the Astronomical Subject Keywords used by major publications and the JWST Science Keywords used by STScI’s Astronomer’s Proposal Tool.

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K. Frey and A. Accomazzi
Thu, 4 Jan 2018

Comments: Submitted to the Astrophysical Journal Supplements, 10 pages, 3 tables

A Model for Data Citation in Astronomical Research using Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) [CL]

Standardizing and incentivizing the use of digital object identifiers (DOIs) to aggregate and identify both data analyzed and data generated by a research project will advance the field of astronomy to match best practices in other research fields like geosciences and medicine. Increase in the use of DOIs will prepare the discipline for changing expectations among funding agencies and publishers, who increasingly expect accurate and thorough data citation to accompany scientific outputs. The use of DOIs ensures a robust, sustainable, and interoperable approach to data citation in which due credit is given to researchers and institutions who produce and maintain the primary data. We describe in this work the advantages of DOIs for data citation and best practices for integrating a DOI service in an astronomical archive. We report on a pilot project carried out in collaboration with AAS Journals. During the course of the 1.5 year pilot, over 75% of submitting authors opted to use the integrated DOI service to clearly identify data analyzed during their research project when prompted at the time of paper submission.

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J. Novacescu, J. Peek, S. Weissman, et. al.
Wed, 3 Jan 2018

Comments: 13 pages, 3 figures. Accepted on Dec 19, 2017 for publication in Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series