This post is part of our Curators’ Corner series. Every so often we’ll feature a different DCN Curator. The series grew out of a community-building activity wherein curators at our partner organizations interview each other “chain-letter style” in order to get to know each other and their work outside of the DCN better. We hope you enjoy these posts!

Sophia Lafferty-Hess is a Senior Research Data Management Consultant at Duke University. Sophia was interviewed by Seth Erickson in August, 2019.

How did you come to your current position?

I got involved in data curation and data management during graduate school at UNC. I did an internship at the Odum Institute for Research in Social Science in the data archive and got interested in data curation as a growth area. After graduate school, I also worked at Odum as a Research Data Manager. The position at Duke seemed like a great opportunity to develop a comprehensive data curation and management program.

What do you do?

I’m one of two research data management consultants at Duke. My job has three key aspects: there’s a consulting piece that involves working with researchers, there’s an education piece – we do workshops throughout the semester, and there’s curation itself. I’m one of four data curators at Duke.

How much of your job involves data curation?

About twenty percent. It depends on how many datasets we get. That twenty percent includes supporting and enhancing repository development – things like developing workflows and outreach.

Why is data curation important to you?

I want to help researchers make their data accessible to others as well as preserve it for the future. Data are valuable and I strongly believe in the importance and benefits that come from data sharing. Truthfully, when I see a dataset without documentation it makes me sad. Data curation is helping to push the envelope regarding data sharing practices and as curators we’re helping researchers make data more “FAIR” – it’s a good use of our time.

Why is the Data Curation Network important?

Two reasons. As a collective we expand our capacity – we can do more together because of various expertise across the Network. It’s cool to be a part of something bringing together folks with similar motivations and provides a forum to candidly share experiences. Being part of this community is great!

If you weren’t doing data curation, what would you be doing?

Maybe get a PhD in Information Science, or open a food truck.

To learn more about Sophia, and some of the datasets she’s curated for the DCN see her curator page!

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