Presentations (Communicative Events)

Integrating Conceptual and Empirical Studies of Data to Guide Curatorial Processes

Palmer, Carole L.; Chao, Tiffany C.; Weber, Nicholas M.; Sacchi, Simone; Wickett, Karen M.; Renear, Allen H.; Baker, Karen; Thomer, Andrea; Dubin, David

Two research teams within the Data Conservancy ( project are investigating different aspects of scientific data curation. Data Concepts is developing a conceptual model to foster shared understanding of identity conditions and representation levels for data sets. Data Practices is conducting qualitative studies of data production and use in the earth and life sciences, analyzing curation needs, cultures of sharing, and re-use potential across disciplines. This poster will illustrate the integration of results from three phases of research to develop a more comprehensive and practical analysis of fundamental aspects of data curation. • Phase 1, Data Concepts team - Preliminary framework for definitions of “dataset” based on review of technical documentation and scientific literature, to support curation and integration of data across disciplines. Found four common features across definitions--grouping, content, relatedness, and purpose, elaborating each based on evidence from the literature. • Phase 2, Data Practices team - Conceptual mapping of data characteristics, data practices, and curation activities, consisting of approximately 145 terms. Emphasizes relationships between data practices and curatorial activities for application to description and assessment of curation services. • Phase 3, Data Practices team - Analytic potential concept developed as a theoretical approach to assessing the value of data beyond its original intended use. Extends Hjørland’s (1997) notion of “epistemological potential”, acknowledging the essential condition of preservation readiness and two key interrelated factors, potential user communities and fit for purpose. We will demonstrate how the Phase 1 framework has been tested and extended based on empirical data and analysis from Phases 2-3. In particular, we show how scientists’ practices and ideas about meaningful units of data adhere to and diverge from the framework’s conception of “grouping”. We also identify and discuss additional elements of “purpose” needed to inform the curatorial processes of selection and appraisal and set curation priorities for making data fit for long-term use.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Libraries and Information Services
Published Here
September 1, 2016


Presented at the 2012 ASIS&T Research Data Access and Preservation
Summit. 22–23 March, 2012, New Orleans, LA