In this paper, I analyze the experiences of ecologists who used data they did not collect themselves. Specifically, I examine the processes by which ecologists understand and assess the quality of the data they reuse, and I investigate the role that standard methods of data collection play in these processes. Standardization is one means by which scientific knowledge is transported from local to public spheres. While standards can be helpful, my results show that knowledge of the local context is critical to ecologists‟ reuse of data. Yet, this information is often left behind as data move from the private to the public world. The knowledge that ecologists acquire through fieldwork enables them to recover the local details that are so critical to their comprehension of data collected by others. Social processes also play a role in ecologists efforts to judge the quality of data they reuse.
Keywords: data sharing; data reuse; ecology; objectivity; standardization