The Nanomaterial Data Curation Initiative (NDCI), a project of the National Cancer Informatics Program Nanotechnology Working Group (NCIP NanoWG), explores the critical aspect of data curation within the development of informatics approaches to understanding nanomaterial behavior. Data repositories and tools for integrating and interrogating complex nanomaterial datasets are gaining widespread interest, with multiple projects now appearing in the US and the EU. Even in these early stages of development, a single common aspect shared across all nanoinformatics resources is that data must be curated into them. Through exploration of sub-topics related to all activities necessary to enable, execute, and improve the curation process, the NDCI will provide a substantive analysis of nanomaterial data curation itself, as well as a platform for multiple other important discussions to advance the field of nanoinformatics. This article outlines the NDCI project and lays the foundation for a series of papers on nanomaterial data curation. The NDCI purpose is to: 1) present and evaluate the current state of nanomaterial data curation across the field on multiple specific data curation topics, 2) propose ways to leverage and advance progress for both individual efforts and the nanomaterial data community as a whole, and 3) provide opportunities for similar publication series on the details of the interactive needs and workflows of data customers, data creators, and data analysts. Initial responses from stakeholder liaisons throughout the nanoinformatics community reveal a shared view that it will be critical to focus on integration of datasets with specific orientation toward the purposes for which the individual resources were created, as well as the purpose for integrating multiple resources. Early acknowledgement and undertaking of complex topics such as uncertainty, reproducibility, and interoperability is proposed as an important path to addressing key challenges within the nanomaterial community, such as reducing collateral negative impacts and decreasing the time from development to market for this new class of technologies.
Keywords: curation; data integration; interoperability; nanoinformatics; nanomaterials.