This post was authored by Jen Darragh, Senior Research Data Management Consultant at Duke University.

It’s hard to believe it’s already July (seriously if someone could tell me where May and June went I’d love to hear it), and I promised I would write a reflection on what planning and hosting the 7th DCN All Hands Meeting (AHM) was like, and how it has evolved from the very first one (which I did attend) back in Minnesota in the summer of 2018. I cannot talk about this year’s AHM without acknowledging the hard work of my colleagues at Duke (let’s face it, Sophia Lafferty-Hess is a force when it comes to working an event) to ensure a seamless on-campus event. In-person events are still not without their hiccups four years past the pandemic, but I think we’re getting better at knowing how to “people” at this point. I also have to thank my amazing program committee (Neggin, Wanda, Lubov, Erich, Joel and (of course) Mikala) for their terrific ideas and creativity in creating, what I at least think, was a very engaging program. 

Over the past seven years I think the DCN itself has gone through quite a metamorphosis from the organization we joined back in 2018. We went from a relatively small, grant-funded community of practice focusing on the nuts and bolts of what data curation entails and how we could leverage our expertise together, to becoming a membership driven organization that has added at least 9 more members and grown into a leading and trusted authority on teaching information professionals nationwide the CURATE(D) steps, maintaining and building a substantial library of curation primers, and, most recently, the realized value and cost of data curation and data sharing from the perspectives of both researchers and repository managers. We’ve come to the point when it comes to planning an AHM that the CURATE(D) model is widely known, we have our shared staffing model well established, and have deepened our community of practice through specialized interest groups.

This year’s focus was looking ahead. We’ve set the foundation, but what are we seeing over the horizon? What should we be advocating for? What should we build? How can we build? In other words, how can we leverage our leadership position to help shape and guide the direction of realistic, ethical data curation and sharing? With the 2025 deadline of the Nelson Memo rapidly approaching, I know the DCN will be on the front lines helping to shape the future. I look forward to future AHMs, the growth of our organization and continually deepening our expertise within our community of practice.  

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