International Data Rescue Award in the Geosciences

The International Data Rescue Award in the Geosciences is created to improve preservation and access of research data, particularly of dark data, and share the varied ways that these data are being processed, stored, and used.

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The International Data Rescue Award in the Geosciences was created to improve prospects for preservation and access of research data, particularly of dark data, and share the varied ways that these data are being processed, stored, and used. The contest invited members of the international geosciences and related communities to submit written descriptions of projects that are based on, or substantially involve, the recovery and re-use of scientific data that were not initially accessible for research. An important consideration is that these datasets are placed into recognized, preferably certified, data repositories and are readily accessible to other researchers for easy re-use.

Lack of access may be due to the nature of the formatting (e.g., analogue data, magnetic tapes that lack format description) or the nature of the data curation and/or organization (e.g., no formal database repository, no backup), such that those data cannot be shared. Consequently, the progress of research suffers unless extra steps are taken to recover the data or transform them to a dependable electronic media.

The International Data Rescue Award in the Geosciences was created to raise awareness of the importance of securing access to science's older research data, particularly those with poor preservation outlook or fragile storage conditions, and to urge efforts towards creating robust electronic datasets that can be shared globally via recognized repositories. Sharing stories about the successful recovery of such datasets will demonstrate the unquestionable value which the older data represent as complements to more modern ones, and will encourage the wider pursuit of rescue efforts.

The 2016 International Data Rescue Award in the Geosciences aims to…

  • draw attention to the high importance which research attaches to its legacy data, particularly in the field of geosciences where physical conditions change,
  • showcase the breadth, depth and diversity of initiatives that can be adopted for recovering and re-using those older research data.
  • promote recognition of specific efforts, and encourages inter-disciplinary discussions, about tools and methods that can assist in the rescue of all such data from oblivion.
  • stimulate the sharing of knowledge, tools and standards for making research data accessible and re-usable across various science domains, including the best practice of placing data in certified repositories.

Sponsors:Elsevier Limited, The Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford, OX5 1GB, UK, and Interdisciplinary Earth Data Alliance, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, 61 Route 9W, Palisades, NY 10964, USA.


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One (1) winner will receive a five thousand dollar (US $5,000.00) cash prize. All expenses including, but not limited to local, state, or federal taxes on the prize, are the sole responsibility of the winner who may elect to consult their own personal tax advisor as to the treatment of the prize for tax purposes. The winner will be required to provide his/her Social Security number or tax ID for tax reporting purposes as the Sponsors will file an IRS Form 1099 with the Internal Revenue Service for the fair market value of prize.

The winner will be notified at the American Geophysical Union Conference. The winner may be asked to execute and return to Sponsor a declaration of eligibility and liability/publicity release, where lawful, within fourteen (14) days of attempted notification. If a prize notification is returned as undeliverable, or if a potential winner does not return the signed claim forms within the required time, or is otherwise found to be ineligible or not in full compliance with these Official Rules, then the potential winner will be disqualified and an alternate winner will be selected based upon the judging criteria.

Application process


The International Data Rescue Award in the Geosciences jointly sponsored by Interdisciplinary Earth Data Alliance (IEDA) and Elsevier (“Contest”) is open to individuals worldwide (excluding residents of Cuba, Iran, Syria, North Korea, Sudan) who (a) have attained the age of majority at time of entry and (b) are researchers in the geosciences field. Entrants may be subject to rules imposed by their institution or employer relative to their participation in trade promotions and should check with their institution or employer for any relevant policies.

How To Enter:

During the Entry Period, all potential entrants must (i) visit (ii) complete an entry form and (iii) submit the entry form directly to (collectively an “Submission Entry”). No changes may be made to a Submission Entry once it has been submitted. All Submission Entries must be in English. Incomplete, illegible or garbled Submission Entries will be disqualified. Any Submission Entry must be fully completed and submitted by the end of the Entry Period in order to be eligible for entry into the Contest. No alternate means of entry permitted. LIMIT ONE (1) ENTRY PER PERSON. All Submission Entries become the exclusive property of Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned.

Submission Requirements:

Each Submission entry must comply with the following requirements (the "Requirements"), i.e. complete a template that describes different aspects of the data rescue project, including:

  • examples of the data as they looked before and after the rescue process,
  • a description of ways, in which the data could be or are used after being made available electronically,
  • a description of metadata, models and standards and the recognized data repository or collection to make the data available for re-use, in a sustained manner,
  • a description of the rescue process, whether manual, automated, or a combination of both.

Sponsor reserves the right to exclude or disqualify any Submission Entry in which the submitted story does not meet, or may not meet, these Requirements, as determined in Sponsor’s sole discretion.

Selection of Winners:

One (1) winner will be selected by our panel of seven (7) judges (the "Panel") by applying the following judging criteria:

Decisions of the Panel will be final and binding in all respects. This is a contest of skill. Your odds of winning depend on how well your Submission Entry compares with others submitted to the Contest pursuant to the judging criteria. Sponsor, as determined through sole discretion of its Panel, reserves the right to not select a winner if it determines that the Submission Entries do not meet, or may not meet, these judging criteria.