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!
Dorris is a GIS Librarian and Social Science Data Curator for the Washington University Library. She was interviewed by Xuying Xin in August, 2021.
How did you come to your current position?
I came to this position because during the last semester of my PhD studies at University of Georgia, I worked at the Map and Government Information Library (MAGIL) as a summer intern. My former boss at the library told me about this position, I applied for it and that is how I came to this position.
What do you do?
There are two parts of my position, I am a GIS librarian also a social science data curator. As a GIS librarian, I help the WashU community with their GIS needs which can range from retrieving GIS data to assisting them with GIS software. I also run workshops for GIS software and related programming tools including R, Python and I provide consultations to answer questions related to these tools. As a social science data curator, I am curating a variety of datasets and I have been curating various data from a variety of fields from political science to earth and planetary science. I also teach workshops on data management, data curation, and data literacy. After the workshops, sometimes I have students making appointments for a consultation for either data management or using R to clean data. I am a RStudio certified instructor and I am able to help students with the questions with R and do what they want to do for their projects such as looking for data, running code, and data management plan. I do a lot of things for my position.
How much of your job involves data curation?
I have been on this job for two years with the first-year learning about the job and now I am doing a lot of data curation. Today I got a big dataset and I have done part of it. Once it is done, I will be moving to another dataset, then another dataset. I do think this summer is a summer of data curation. I work with Jennifer Moore and we discuss data curation and it is helpful.
Why is data curation important to you?
I came from a GIS background so it always turns out in the end when you finished the work, sometimes you will have to rerun some of the work you did. Usually, a lot of researchers do not think about managing data or having someone curate their data, then it is very difficult to reproduce the project. Really, if the library provides data curation services, you should use it because it allows you to come back and re-run the analysis easily. Basically, you are helping the future you because this might not be the only time you touch the data. Having a data curator look at your data and suggest ways to enhance the data is very important for research reproducibility.This is also important with teaching with data. Sometimes instructors want to use a dataset published in a paper and a curated data makes it a lot easier to use. A lot of instructors might find it hard to find clean data to use in the classroom. It is important for instructors to reuse the dataset as well.
Why is the Data Curation Network important?
Right now, it is just me and Jennifer Moore who are data curators here at WashU. The DCN gives us the opportunity to network with other curators to see what they are doing at their institutions in terms of the curation process and outreach efforts. It also allows us to stay updated with various curation models. For example, during the AHM, we talked about the CARE model and how it integrates into the CURATED model. The DCN is just a good group of people to network with and to learn from.
If you weren’t doing data curation, what would you be doing?
I am a GIS Librarian and I would be doing services related to GIS.
What is your favorite cuisine?
My favorite cuisine is Korean cuisine. I lived in Korea for two years and I learned to cook Korean food by looking it up online or by asking friends One of my favorite dishes is tteokbokki, which is spicy rice cakes.
To learn more about Dorris and some of the datasets she’s curated for the DCN see her curator page!