Assessing the Downstream Impact of the Integrated Use of Socioeconomic and Remote Sensing Data

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
Robert S Chen, Robert R Downs and Joachim Schumacher, Columbia University, CIESIN, Palisades, NY, United States
The interdisciplinary use of data from multiple disciplines to address both research and applied problems has received increasing attention in the sciences, but understanding remains limited on the specific modalities of data use and their impact not only in enabling new research insights but also in facilitating the application of research to societal problems. In our previous work, we used citation analysis to investigate the use of data from the NASA Socioeconomic Data and Applications Center (SEDAC) and identify the extent of interdisciplinary use, based on the subject classifications of citing journals. We also proposed and tested a taxonomy of data integration and use on a selection of peer-reviewed scientific articles that cited both remote sensing data and socioeconomic data from SEDAC. We extend both of these analyses here. We analyze the interdisciplinary use of SEDAC data over a seven-year period including the types and topical areas of application observed. We also explore the degree to which different types of data integration and use are leading to further “downstream” research and applications, and if objective measures can be developed using bibliometric methods to quantify downstream use and impact in meaningful ways. These methods include both traditional citation analysis and searches of the informal literature and online resources. Better understanding of how disparate data and information has been utilized to address new interdisciplinary problems will help the data user and provider communities improve the effectiveness and efficiency of their efforts. It should also provide justification for further investments in linking different data resources and networks across scientific fields, in methods of interdisciplinary data integration, and in application of integrated data to societal problems.