Launching the Data Curation Network

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grant will fund implementation of shared staffing model across 7 academic libraries and the Dryad Digital Repository

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL, MN (04/06/2018) – The University of Minnesota Libraries will lead a three-year, multi-institutional effort to launch the Data Curation Network. The implementation — backed by a $526,438 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation — builds on research to better support researchers faced with a growing number of requirements to openly and ethically share their research data.

The result of many months of research and planning, the project brings together the following eight partners: University of Minnesota Libraries, Sheridan Libraries at Johns Hopkins University, University of Michigan Library, Duke University Libraries, University Library at University of Illinois at Urbana­-Champaign, Cornell University Library, Penn State University Libraries, and the Dryad Digital Repository.

Currently, staff at each of these institutions provide their own data curation services. But because data curation requires a specialized skill set — spanning a wide variety of data types and discipline-specific data formats — institutions cannot reasonably expect to hire an expert in each area.

The intent of the Data Curation Network is to serve as a cross-institutional staffing model that seamlessly connects a network of expert data curators to local datasets and to supplement local curation expertise. Data curators bring the disciplinary knowledge and software expertise necessary for reviewing and curating data deposits to ensure that the data are reusable. The project aims to increase local capacity, strengthen collaboration between libraries and disciplinary projects, and ensure that researchers and institutions ethically and appropriately share data.

“Functionally, the Data Curation Network will serve as the ‘human layer’ in a local data repository stack that provides expert services, incentives for collaboration, normalized curation practices, and professional development training for an emerging data curator community,” said Lisa R. Johnston, Principal Investigator for the Data Curation Network and Director of the Data Repository for the University of Minnesota (DRUM).

Data curation is a relatively new service at universities as funders increasingly require that the raw data from sponsored research be preserved and shared. In addition, many publishers now either require or encourage that data sets accompanying articles be made available through a publicly accessible repository. Finally, many researchers wish to make their data available regardless of funder requirements both to enhance their impact and also to propel the concept of open science.

“The Sheridan Libraries were amongst the first research libraries to offer data management services,” said Sayeed Choudhury, Associate Dean for Research Data Management at Johns Hopkins University’s Sheridan Libraries. “While we have developed relevant expertise, our experience has actually highlighted the need for a more coordinated, distributed approach that leverages the diverse knowledge and expertise of our colleagues at other institutions. We are thrilled to join the Data Curation Network for this reason.”

During the three-year implementation phase, members of the Data Curation Network will work to add new partners and build the network into a sustainable model.

“We’re confident that a collaborative approach to data curation will enable our services to be stronger and ultimately lead to better, more reusable, datasets being shared,” Johnston said. “And this will benefit researchers, their disciplines, and the end users of research data world-wide.”

Johnston will be joined by:

●      Mara Blake, Manager of Data Services, Johns Hopkins University

●      Jake Carlson,  Director of Research Data Services, University of Michigan Library

●      Joel Herndon, Head of Data and Visualization Services, Duke University

●      Elizabeth Hull, Operations Manager, Dryad Digital Repository

●      Heidi Imker, Director of the Research Data Service, University of Illinois at Urbana­ Champaign Library

●      Wendy Kozlowski, Data Curation Specialist, Cornell University Library

●      Tim McGeary, Associate University Librarian for Information Technology Services, Duke University

●      Robert Olendorf, the Research Data Librarian at Penn State University

●      Claire Stewart, Associate University Librarian for Research and Learning, University of Minnesota

This project builds on previous work that includes the July 2017 report: “Data Curation Network: A Cross-Institutional Staffing Model for Curating Research Data,” which is available on the project website,

For more information

Visit the Data Curation Network website at:

Follow on Twitter: #DataCurationNetwork


For Immediate Release

Contact: Lisa Johnston, Principal Investigator for the Data Curation Network,; Mark Engebretson, Director of Communications, University of Minnesota Libraries,, 612-625-9148.

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