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General Browsing Guide for the NSCN Database

The NSCN Database is a growing, evolving data resource. Because it is too large to present in one file, it is distributed via a collection of documents, reports, and tables; because it changes frequently, there is a strong web-based component and we encourage you to visit the site frequently.

Data are input to and reported from the database using standardized variable names (response variables and metadata). Each of these variables fits within a broader hierarchy of spatial scales, with some being classified as site-level (e.g., climate and geologic formation), others relevant to individually collected soil profiles (e.g., soil series and taxonomic order), and still others that are used to describe the individually collected soil layers that comprise each soil profile (e.g., horizon thickness or sampling depth, %carbon, bulk density). We also have the capacity to catalog data from soil fractions of all types, as well as data from sites that have experienced disturbances or experimental treatments. In general, background and summary information about database are presented on the Dataset Information page; spreadsheet reports containing the data themselves are on the Data Browsing webpage (account required). By using the unique Site, Profile, and Layer IDs that run throughout all the data reports, you can perform your own manipulations using the data products that we have provided as a starting point. One especially useful means of accessing the response and metadata together is available from the link to all Per-Layer Data on the Data Browsing page, which points to an Excel 2007 download (>40 MB) that has a row of data for every individual soil layer currently available, and allows convenient filtering.

Note that the contents of the database and the data reports on this website will change as new data are added; it is important to keep track of the version date stamped in the upper-left portion of any data report that you access.

The data in the database come from many sources, including academic scientists, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service, Soil Survey Lab. We hope that you will contribute some of your own data to this effort to help it grow larger, more capable and successful. Please contact NSCN support to arrange data contributions. If you are eager to get started, please visit the data submission page and begin mapping your own spreadsheet over to our database format. Take comfort in the fact that when you contribute datasets, they remain hidden from broader viewing until you decide to release them for that purpose, and that when you release your data you will be cited by its users.

With as many different data sources as there are in the database, please be aware that errors exist. It is our eventual goal to assign an objective quality grade to each observation we receive from each contributor. Reading our document about database calculations and data quality is important, as is establishing your own protocol for addressing outliers and influential observations before beginning your analysis. If you detect data that appear to be in error, please describe the problem on the forum post devoted to database problems. If you need help with data browsing, please contact



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