The IASSIST & Data Curation Network (DCN) hosted a Data Curation Workshop on December 11 & 12, 2017 at Washington University in St. Louis, USA. Support from IASSIST, Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Minnesota, Cornell University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign brought together approximately 45 professionals to learn how to richly curate research data from a number of domains.
Participants came from a wide variety of functional backgrounds, including catalogers, archivists, subject specialists, data management librarians, repository managers, and more. Attendees traveled to St. Louis, MO from as far away as the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA and Boise State University in Boise, Idaho. Additionally, there was a diverse makeup of institutions represented, including liberal art colleges, Research 1 institutions, and government agencies. Support for this workshop provided a few micro-scholarships to applicants who would otherwise not be able to attend.
This 1.5 day workshop focused heavily on the hands-on treatments required to richly curate research data. Attendees learned and then practiced a six step CURATE process of checking, understanding, requesting, augmenting, transforming, and evaluating datasets to be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR). Curricula also included the value of data curation and an introduction to IASSIST and the Data Curation Network (DCN). Each attendee left the workshop with experience in curating real-world data, an elevator speech for talking about curation needs, and a plan for moving curation services forward or enhancing existing services locally. The workshop agenda and links to the slides are available through the workshop webpage.
Feedback from workshop attendees indicated overwhelming satisfaction with content. While we focused heavily on the manual treatments required to richly curate data, many attendees wanted more exposure and experience with software and tools they could use to curate data. The hands-on portion of the workshop was extremely successful given the use of real-world datasets from each of our institutions. Using actual submissions highlighted the complexities of curating data for which an institution may not immediately have the expertise.
The instructors for this workshop came from organizations are all members of the Data Curation Network. The DCN project was launched with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in 2016 and seeks to develop a shared staffing model across nine institutions and organizations for data curation. By sharing our data curation expertise across a ‘network of expertise’ we aim to enable our academic libraries to collectively, and more effectively, curate a wider variety of data types (e.g., discipline, file format, etc.) that expands beyond what any single institution might offer alone. Training and community-building, through workshops such as this, is a natural component of the DCN vision.
Additional data curation workshops are being planned for the near future. For those interested in future workshops, we encourage you to watch the Data Curation Network website for updates. We are grateful to IASSIST for its support, without which this workshop would not have been possible.