2 Survey Results: Executive Summary
Executive Summary
Researchers are required by many federal and private funders1 and publishers2 to make the digital data
underlying their research openly available for sharing and reuse. In order for data to be fully and publicly
accessible to search, retrieve, and analyze, specialized curatorial actions should be taken to prepare
the data for reuse, including quality assurance, file integrity checks, documentation review, metadata
creation for discoverability, file transformations into archival formats, and selection of a suitable license/
copyright. Data curation, which may be broadly defined as the active and on-going management of data
through its lifecycle of interest and usefulness to scholarly and educational activities3, is an important
role for academic research libraries as we transform our workforce to assume greater digital stewardship
responsibilities in the academy.4-5 Libraries are in the business of identifying, selecting, organizing,
describing, preserving, and providing access to information materials, print and digital. And as a
cornerstone of the academic institution, libraries are persistent, with a demonstrated and sustainable
model for providing services such as collection management, preservation, and access to a broad variety
of information. Thus, the care of research data sets is central to our mission.
Although a number of studies and surveys have recently explored data services provided by
libraries, they have focused more on the broader concept of research data management (RDM) services,
without detailing the policies, staffing, and data curation treatment actions described above. For example,
the “E-Science and Data Support Services” report6 published in 2011 surveyed institutions about staffing
and data storage infrastructure broadly. Similarly, research completed by Tenopir et al. in 20117 and
again in 20158 asked library directors at 351 organizations about current and expected infrastructure
for research data services. Questions relevant to data curation were broad and touched upon whether
support was provided for activities such as metadata creation, the existence of an institutional repository
system for data, and deaccessioning of datasets, to name a few. And while generally focused on RDM, the
2013 SPEC survey on research data management services9 did include a number of questions related to
data curation infrastructure and services. These included specific questions about repository technology
platforms, total size of datasets, and basic preservation treatment actions, among others. Lee and Stvilia
recently highlighted the curation services libraries are providing through local institutional repositories.10
Given the rapidly changing technology and data sharing policy ecosystem, curation may not
seem scalable to many libraries. In fact, Tenopir et al. found little to no change in data services support
among surveyed libraries between 2011 and 2015. Yet, demand for data sharing support has already and
will continue to increase given the number of publishers and funders requiring data sharing. The success
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