Connecting physical and social science datasets: challenges and pathways forward

Sameer H. Shah, Cassandra R. O’Lenick, Jessica S. Wan, Alexandra Ramos-Valle, Kevin D. Ash, Olga V. Wilhelmi, Catrin M. Edgeley, Maria J. Molina, Jessica Moulite, Carlo Andre Chunga Pizarro, Kelsey Emard, Olivia Z. Cameron, James M. Done, Cleo Wölfle Hazard, Thomas M. Hopson, Mikah Jones, Forrest Lacey, Michée Arnold Lachaud, Danica Lombardozzi, Michael MéndezRebecca E. Morss, Katharine Ricke, Fernando Tormos-Aponte, William R. Wieder, Christopher L. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The integration of physical and social science data can enable novel frameworks, methodologies, and innovative solutions important for addressing complex socio-environmental problems. Unfortunately, many technical, procedural, and institutional challenges hamper effective data integration—detracting from interdisciplinary socio-environmental research and broader public impact. This paper reports on the experiences and challenges of social and physical data integration, as experienced by diverse Early Career Researchers (ECRs), and offers strategies for coping with and addressing these challenges. Through a workshop convened by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Innovator Program, 33 participants from different disciplines, career stages, and institutions across the United States identified four thematic data integration challenges related to complexity and uncertainty, communication, scale, and institutional barriers. They further recommended individual, departmental, and institutional scale responses to cope with and address these integration challenges. These recommendations seek to inform faculty and department support for ECRs, who are often encouraged—and even expected—to engage in integrative, problem-focused, and solutions-oriented research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number095007
JournalEnvironmental Research Communications
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1 2023


  • data integration
  • early career researchers
  • interdisciplinary
  • physical science
  • social science

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • General Environmental Science
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Geology
  • Earth-Surface Processes
  • Atmospheric Science


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