A misunderstanding?

What DATA does the Journal of Astronomical Data publish?

There is often a misunderstanding about what the word DATA in the journal name actually means. Most people think of data as published material in the regular journals, e.g. graphs, pictures, plates, other figures, small or larger tables with analyzed results. This is what we like to call analysis data.

However, this is NOT what the Journal of Astronomical Data is about. This CD-ROM based publication seeks (reduced) observational data, data from theoretical reseach in the form of models, data grids, videos (MPEG, AVI) or data from instruments, e.g. design decription, calibration data).

Obvious examples are CCD frames with images or spectra of objects, photometric measurements, and what have you in observational data. It is that kind of data that probably will end up on a tape in a drawer somewhere; forgotten after a short time. Very often, if not always, such unarchived material is very valuable for other astronomers for a number of reasons:

  • The data can be used to prepare oneself for future observations. (``See what is there'').
  • The data may support current research.
  • The data functions as a replacement for otherwise time-consuming observations.
  • The data can in fact save money, because an expensive trip to obtain the same, or nearly the same, material need not be necessary.
  • The data published in the journal may be very useful for teaching purposes.
Volumes 1 and 2 give a few clear examples of such datasets.

This Journal is the first publication that attempts to recover such material.

A refereeing procedure gives the data a quality status. As such the data form a good starting point for future use by other astronomers.

The journal offers authors a refereed publication. It is very likely that the observations will obtain a number of citations from their publication; a great bonus in an environment where this is deemed important.