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!

Marley Kalt is a Data Management Consultant at Johns Hopkins University. She was interviewed by Andrew Battista in July 2020.

How did you come to your current position?

I recently completed a Master’s in Information Science. Before graduate school I knew I wanted to go into academic librarianship, and through digital curation coursework and extracurricular work with the City of Detroit’s Open Data Portal, I set my sights on working with data, specifically, so data management and data curation work was always the goal for me. And that led to my current position at JHU!

What do you do?

As a Data Management Consultant, I work with researchers on data management plans and setting up good practices for managing and sharing their research data. The Data Services department runs the JHU Data Archive, so I accept data deposits and curate research data through that. We also do quite a bit of training for students and faculty, hosting workshops on best practices for data management and reproducible research, and on open source software for working with data, including Python and R.

How much of your job involves data curation?

It varies based on how many deposits we get for the data archive, but typically 20-30 percent of my time is data curation. All deposits for the JHU Data Archive are mediated, so I do some level of curation, like making sure files open and that we have the minimum required metadata, for all datasets that come my way.

Why is data curation important to you?

There’s not much value in sharing data that nobody can use or understand, and it’s a benefit to the community that data sharing is increasingly required and is becoming more of a literacy. Data curation enables data to be interpreted more easily and hopefully re-used. I think data curation makes research data better and more meaningful on its own, and is essential if we’re going to keep sharing our data.

Why is the Data Curation Network important?

I have really enjoyed being part of the Data Curation Network. Building a community around data curation has been a great way to share expertise and to learn from others doing similar work. Especially for fields or data formats I have no experience with, I feel more confident publishing a dataset when I know someone more familiar with that field has looked it over.

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

I would still want to be an academic librarian, but probably in a subject liaison role.

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

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