Dr. Robert R. Downs

Pronouns: He, Him, His

Senior Staff Associate, Information Technology, Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), Columbia Climate School

Senior Digital Archivist, Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)

Acting Head of Cyberinfrastructure and Informatics Research and Development, Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN)

202 Geoscience
61 Route 9W
PO Box 1000
Palisades, NY 10964


Dr. Robert R. Downs serves as the senior digital archivist and acting head of cyberinfrastructure and informatics research and development at CIESIN, the Center for International Earth Science Information Network, a research and data center of the Columbia Climate School of Columbia University. He is a co-chair of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) Data Working Group, a co-chair of the Research Data Alliance (RDA) Interest Group on Repository Platforms for Research Data, and a co-chair of the Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) Information Quality Cluster. He serves on the Editorial Board of the International Science Council (ISC) Committee on Data (CODATA) Data Science Journal. He is a Senior Member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and is a member of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the International Association for Information Services and Technology (IASSIST). His research interests include the development, management, use, evaluation, and scientific impact of data systems, digital libraries and repositories; digital preservation; data management; data policy; data confidentiality; software reuse; participatory design; business process re-design; and organizational change.


Only select publications listed below
Name Published Date
Data Repositories Discovering Unpublished and Diverse Data Usage and Impact 2023
Scientific Use and Impact of Socioeconomic Data across Disciplines 2023
Successes and Challenges in Meeting Data Repository Certification Requirements 2023
Collaboration in the Earth Science Data System Working Groups (ESDSWG) 2021
Curating Big Data on Population and Settlements to Monitor the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2021
Improving Repositories Through Collaboration 2021
SERVIR West Africa Training Program on Data Stewardship and the CoreTrustSeal Requirements: Session 1 2021
SERVIR West Africa Training Program on Data Stewardship and the CoreTrustSeal Requirements: Session 2 2021
SERVIR West Africa Training Program on Data Stewardship and the CoreTrustSeal Requirements: Session 3 2021
Opportunities for Sharing Resources Among Research Data Repositories 2020
Selecting Research Data Repository Platforms for Open Science 2020
International Standards for Trustworthy Data Repositories 2019
Curation of Scientific Data at Risk of Loss: Data Rescue and Dissemination 2017
Measuring the Interdisciplinary Impact of Using Geospatial Data with Remote Sensing Data 2017
A Portfolio Approach to a Sustainable Business Model for Scientific Data Stewardship 2016
A Scientific Data Center Perspective on Publishing Data 2015
Bridging Disciplines: Assessing the Interdisciplinary Impact of Open Data 2015
Data Lifecycle Review of Research Data 2015
Data Rescue at a Scientific Data Center 2015
Eliciting Knowledge on Science Software Sustainability from the Earth Science Informatics Community 2015
Enabling Ongoing Access to Data Products and Services When Dependencies are No Longer Supported 2015
Establishing Trustworthy Repositories of Scientific Data: Opportunities and Benefits 2015
Preparing a Trustworthy Domain Repository for ISO 16363 Certification 2015
A Comparative Analysis of Scientific Data Publication Opportunities 2014
Citation of Scientific Software 2014
Community Recommendations for Improving Sustainable Scientific Software Practices 2014
Earth Science Informatics Community Requirements for Improving Sustainable Science Software Practices: User Perspectives and Implications for Organizational Action 2014
Experiences with Implementation of Digital Object Identifiers 2014
Implementing Digital Object Identifiers (DOIs) to Foster Attribution for Earth Science Data 2014
Improving the Review of Scientific Data for Public Dissemination 2014
Integrating Remote Sensing Data with Socioeconomic Data: Sensitivity, Confidentiality, Privacy, and Intellectual Property Challenges 2014
Policy Recommendations for Institutions to Serve as Trustworthy Stewards of Research Data 2014
Professional Development for an Evolving Earth Science Workforce 2014
Sustainable Software for the Future of Science: A User’s Perspective 2014
Workflow for Evaluating SEDAC Data for Dissemination 2014
Analyzing Data Citations to Assess the Scientific and Societal Value of Scientific Data 2013
Comparing Approaches for the Sustainability of Scientific Data Repositories 2013
Data Publication Options 2013
Independent Evaluation of a Scientific Data Center for Compliance with the ISO 16363 Requirements for Audit and Certification of Trustworthy Digital Repositories 2013
Meeting the Next Generation Science Standards with SEDAC Data 2013
Research Data Strategies to Support Studies of Human Interactions in the Environment 2013
Scientific Data Infrastructure: Research Opportunities and Challenges 2013
Towards Sustainable Stewardship of Digital Collections of Scientific Data 2012
A Proposal on Using Reuse Readiness Levels to Measure Software Reusability 2010
Managing Risks to Scientific Data 2009
Organizational needs for managing and preserving geospatial data and related electronic records 2005


Downs RR, Urquidi Díaz, A, Xu, Q, Wang, J, Chambodut, A, Liu, C, Flower, S and Payne, K. 2023. Harvestable Metadata Services Development: Analysis of Use Cases from the World Data System. Data Science Journal, 22: 20, pp. 1–20. https://doi.org/10.5334/dsj-2023-020 

Peng G, Lacagnina C, Downs RR, Ganske A, Ramapriyan H,Ivánová I, Wyborn L, Jones D, Bastin L, Shie CL, Moroni DF. 2022. Global Community Guidelines for Documenting, Sharing, and Reusing Quality Information of Individual Digital Datasets. Data Science Journal, 21: 8, pp. 1–20. http://doi.org/10.5334/dsj-2022-008

Peng G, Downs RR, Lacagnina C, Ramapriyan H, Ivánová I, Moroni D, Wei Y, Larnicol G, Wyborn L, Goldberg M, Schulz J, Bastrakova I, Ganske A, Bastin L, Khalsa SJS, Wu M, Shie C-L, Ritchey N, Jones D, Habermann T, Lief C, Maggio I, Albani M, Stall S, Zhou L, Drévillon M, Champion S, Hou CS, Doblas-Reyes F, Lehnert K, Robinson E, Bugbee K. 2021. Call To Action for Global Access and Harmonization of Quality Information of Individual Earth Science Datasets. Data Science Journal, 20: 19, pp. 1–15. https://doi.org/10.5334/dsj-2021-019 

Downs RR, Ramapriyan HK, Peng G, Wei Y. 2021. Perspectives on Citizen Science Data Quality. Perspective, Frontiers in Climate, Section on Climate Risk Management, Special Issue: Open Citizen Science Data and Methods. 3:615032. https://doi.org/10.3389/fclim.2021.615032

Klump J, Wyborn L, Wu M, Martin J, Downs RR, Asmi A. 2021.Versioning Data Is About More than Revisions: A Conceptual Framework and Proposed Principles. Data Science Journal, 20(1), p.12. https://doi.org/10.5334/dsj-2021-012 

Zhang L, Downs RR, Li J, Wen L, Li C. 2021. A Review of Open Research Data Policies and Practices in China. Data Science Journal, 20(1), p.3. http://doi.org/10.5334/dsj-2021-003 

Downs RR. 2021. Improving Opportunities for New Value of Open Data: Assessing and Certifying Research Data Repositories. Data Science Journal, 20: 1, pp. 1–11. DOI: https://doi.org/10.5334/dsj-2021-001  

Vannan S, Downs RR, Meier W, Wilson BE, Gerasimov IV. 2020. Data Sets are Foundational to Research. Why don’t we cite them? Eos, 101, https://doi.org/10.1029/2020EO151665

Lin D, Crabtree J, Dillo I, Downs RR, Edmunds R, Giaretta D, De Giusiti M, L'Hours H, Hugo W, Jenkyns R, Khodiyar V, Martone M, Mokrane M, Navale V, Petters J Sierman B, Sokolova DV, Stockhause M, Westbrook J. 2020. The TRUST Principles for Digital Repositories. Scientific Data 7, 144. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41597-020-0486-7 

Mayernik MS, Breseman K, Downs RR, Duerr R, Garretson A, Hou C-Y., and EDGI and Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) Data Stewardship Committee. 2020. Risk Assessment for Scientific Data. Data Science Journal, 19(1), p.10. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/dsj-2020-010 

Parr CA, Gries C, O'Brien M, Downs RR, Duerr R, Koskela, R, Tarrant P, Maull KE, Hoebelheinrich N, Stall S. 2019. A Discussion of Return on Investment Metrics for Data Repositories in Earth and Environmental Sciences. Data Science Journal, 18(1), p.58. DOI: http://doi.org/10.5334/dsj-2019-058

Schuster DC, Mayernik MS, Hou CY, Stossmeister G, Downs RR, Kinkade D, Nguyen TB, Ramamurthy M, Zhang F. 2019. Challenges and Future Directions for Data Management in the Geosciences. Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. http://doi.org/10.1175/BAMS-D-18-0319.1

Ramapriyan HK, Downs RR, Dozier J, Duerr R, Folk M, Frew J, Hoebelheinrich N, Mattmann CA, Peng G. 2019. Bruce Barkstrom (1944–2018), Eos, 100, https://doi.org/10.1029/2019EO115561 

Donaldson DR, Dillo I, Downs RR, Ramdeen S. 2017. The Perceived Value of Acquiring Data Seals of Approval. International Journal of Digital Curation, 12(1) 130-151. https://doi.org/10.2218/ijdc.v12i1.481 

Downs RR. Reflections on the Management, Curation, and Preservation of Geospatial Data, Journal of Map & Geography Libraries, 2016 Mar 15; 12:1, https://doi.org/10.1080/15420353.2016.1146646

Downs RR. Progress on the Management, Curation, and Preservation of Geospatial Data, Journal of Map & Geography Libraries, 2015 Sept 2; 11(3): 267-270, https://doi.org/10.1080/15420353.2015.1102189

Hills D, Downs RR, Duerr R, Goldstein J, Parsons M, Ramapriyan HK. The Importance of Data Set Provenance for Science. Eos 2015, 96.  https://doi.org/10.1029/2015EO040557 

Downs RR, Lenhardt WC, Robinson E, Davis E, Weber N. Community Recommendations for Sustainable Scientific Software. Journal of Open Research Software. 2015 Nov 18; 3(1): e11. https://doi.org/10.5334/jors.bt 

Downs RR. Management, Curation, and Preservation of Geospatial Data: Introductory Perspectives. Journal of Map and Geography Libraries, 2015 May 4; 11(2): 117-122. https://doi.org/10.1080/15420353.2015.1064848

Downs RR, Duerr R, Hills DJ, Ramapriyan HK. Data Stewardship in the Earth Sciences. D-Lib Magazine 2015 Jul; 21(7/8). https://doi.org/10.1045/july2015-downs

Starr J, Castro E, Crosas M, Dumontier M, Downs RR, Duerr R, Haak LL, Haendel M, Herman I, Hodson S, Hourclé J, Kratz JE, Lin J, Nielsen LH, Nurnberger A, Proell S, Rauber A, Sacchi S, Smith A, Taylor M, Clark T. Achieving human and machine accessibility of cited data in scholarly publications. PeerJ Computer Science. 2015 May 27; 1:e1 https://dx.doi.org/10.7717/peerj-cs.1 

Wilson A, Downs RR, Lenhardt WC, Meyer C, Michener W, Ramapriyan HK, Robinson E. Realizing the Value of a National Asset: Scientific Data. Eos. 2014; 95(50): 477-478. https://doi.org/10.1002/2014EO500006

Mattmann C, Crichton D, Hart A, Kelly S, Goodale C, Ramirez P, Hughes JS, Downs RR, Lindsay F. Understanding Open Source Software at NASA. IEEE IT Professional, 2012; 14(2): 29-35. https://doi.org/10.1109/MITP.2011.118

Duerr RE, Downs RR, Tilmes C, Barkstrom B, Lenhardt WC, Glassy J, Bermudez LE, Slaughter P. On the Utility of Identification Schemes for Digital Earth Science Data: An Assessment and Recommendations. Earth Science Informatics, 2011; 4(3): 139-160. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12145-011-0083-6   

Downs RR, Marshall JJ. A Proposal on Using Reuse Readiness Levels to Measure Software Reusability. Data Science Journal. 2010; 9, 73-92.  https://doi.org/10.2481/dsj.009-007

Downs RR, Chen RS. Designing Submission and Workflow Services for Preserving Interdisciplinary Scientific Data. Earth Science Informatics. 2010; 3(1): 101-110.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s12145-010-0051-6  

Marshall JJ, Downs RR, Samadi S. Relevance of Software Reuse in Building Advanced Scientific Data Processing Systems. Earth Science Informatics. 2010; 3(1): 95-100.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s12145-010-0054-3

Downs RR, Chen RS. Self-Assessment of a Long-Term Archive for Interdisciplinary Scientific Data as a Trustworthy Digital Repository. Journal of Digital Information. 2010; 11(1): Open Repositories 2009 Special Issue.   http://journals.tdl.org/jodi/article/view/753

Marshall JJ, Downs RR, Samadi S, Gerard NS, Wolfe RE. Software Reuse to Support Earth Science.  Journal of Frontiers of Computer Science and Technology. 2008; 2(3): 296-310.  http://www.ceaj.org/wes/qikan/manage/wenzhang/T0804026.pdf 

Downs RR, Chen RS. Organizational Needs for Managing and Preserving Geospatial Data and Related Electronic Records. Data Science Journal. 2005; 4, 31 Dec 2005, 255-271. Release Date: 25 Jan 2006. Online ISSN: 1683-1470.  https://doi.org/10.2481/dsj.4.255

Downs RR, Chen RS. Cooperative Design, Development, and Management of Interdisciplinary Data to Support the Global Environmental Change Research Community. Science & Technology Libraries. 2003; 23(4): 5-19. ISSN: 0194-262X. https://doi.org/10.1300/J122v23n04_02  Co-published simultaneously as Downs RR, Chen RS. 2003. Cooperative Design, Development, and Management of Interdisciplinary Data to Support the Global Environmental Change Research Community. In Virginia Baldwin (Ed.), Online Ecological and Environmental Data, 5-19, Binghamton, NY: Haworth Press. Hardcover ISBN: 0-7890-2446-2. Paperback ISBN: 0-7890-2447-0. 

Downs RR, Friedman EA. Digital Library Support for Scholarly Research. Information Processing & Management. 1999 May 31; 35(3): 281-291. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0306-4573(98)00062-4

Downs RR. The Frederick Winslow Taylor Project: User-Centered Design and Evaluation. ACM SIGOIS Bulletin. 1995; 16(2) 20-21. https://doi.org/10.1145/226188.226201. Reprinted From: How We Do User-Centered Design and Evaluation of Digital Libraries: A Methodological Forum. 37th Allerton Institute, Oct 29-31, 1995. Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

Chapters in Books 

Downs RR. 2018. Chapter 9. Enabling the Reuse of Geospatial Information. In: Kruse JB, Crompvoets J, Pearlman F. GEOValue: The Socioeconomic Value of Geospatial Information. CRC Press, Taylor & Francis. Pp 129-146. ISBN: 9781498774512.

Downs RR, Chen RS. 2017. Chapter 12. Curation of Scientific Data at Risk of Loss: Data Rescue and Dissemination. In Johnston LR (Ed.) Curating Research Data Volume One: Practical Strategies for Your Digital Repository. Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) of the American Library Association (ALA). Pp 263-277. http://bit.ly/CRDataV1 and https://doi.org/10.7916/D8W09BMQ 

Marshall JJ, Downs RR, Samadi S. 2010. Building the Next Generation of Aerospace Data Processing Systems by Reusing Existing Software Components. In Arif TT (Ed.) Aerospace Technologies Advancements. Croatia: IN-TECH, 25-36, ISBN: 978-953-7619-96-1   https://doi.org/10.5772/6940