Nanocuration workflows: Establishing best practices for identifying, inputting, and sharing data to inform decisions on nanomaterials

Beilstein J Nanotechnol. 2015 Sep 4:6:1860-71. doi: 10.3762/bjnano.6.189. eCollection 2015.


There is a critical opportunity in the field of nanoscience to compare and integrate information across diverse fields of study through informatics (i.e., nanoinformatics). This paper is one in a series of articles on the data curation process in nanoinformatics (nanocuration). Other articles in this series discuss key aspects of nanocuration (temporal metadata, data completeness, database integration), while the focus of this article is on the nanocuration workflow, or the process of identifying, inputting, and reviewing nanomaterial data in a data repository. In particular, the article discusses: 1) the rationale and importance of a defined workflow in nanocuration, 2) the influence of organizational goals or purpose on the workflow, 3) established workflow practices in other fields, 4) current workflow practices in nanocuration, 5) key challenges for workflows in emerging fields like nanomaterials, 6) examples to make these challenges more tangible, and 7) recommendations to address the identified challenges. Throughout the article, there is an emphasis on illustrating key concepts and current practices in the field. Data on current practices in the field are from a group of stakeholders active in nanocuration. In general, the development of workflows for nanocuration is nascent, with few individuals formally trained in data curation or utilizing available nanocuration resources (e.g., ISA-TAB-Nano). Additional emphasis on the potential benefits of cultivating nanomaterial data via nanocuration processes (e.g., capability to analyze data from across research groups) and providing nanocuration resources (e.g., training) will likely prove crucial for the wider application of nanocuration workflows in the scientific community.

Keywords: curation; informatics; nanoinformatics; nanomaterials; workflows.