15 SPEC Kit 354: Data Curation
Survey Questions and
This survey was co-designed by Cynthia Hudson-Vitale, the Data Services Coordinator in Data and GIS
Services at Washington University in St. Louis Libraries and Heidi Imker, the director of the Research Data
Service at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in collaboration with the Data Curation Network
project team, which also includes (lead) Lisa R. Johnston, the Research Data Management/Curation Lead
at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities Libraries; Jake Carlson, the Research Data Services Manager at
the University of Michigan Library; Wendy Kozlowski, Data Curation Specialist at Cornell University; Robert
Olendorf, Science Data Librarian at Pennsylvania State University, and Claire Stewart, Associate University
Librarian for Research and Learning at the University of Minnesota. These results are based on responses
from 80 of the 124 ARL member libraries (65%) by the deadline of January 30, 2017. The survey’s introductory
text and questions are reproduced below, followed by the response data and selected comments from
the respondents.
Researchers are required by many federal and private funders and publishers to make the digital data
underlying their research openly available for sharing and reuse. Merely making data available, though, is
not enough to ensure its on-going viability and re-usability—the data must be curated to ensure/facilitate
optimal discovery and re-use.
Data curation may be broadly defined as the active and on-going management of data through its
lifecycle of interest and usefulness to scholarly and educational activities. Curatorial actions may include
quality assurance, file integrity checks, documentation review, metadata creation for discoverability,
file transformations into archival formats, and suitable license/copyright. Data curation services may
be provided with or without a local data repository (e.g., allowing deposit of data into the institutional
repository or helping local researchers prepare their data for deposit to an external data repository).
Although a number of studies and surveys have recently been published on data services provided
by libraries, they have focused more on the broader concept of research data management (RDM) or
services, without detailing curation policies, staffing, and treatment actions described above. Although
these reports have all been useful, the library community would benefit from a more thorough and
comprehensive understanding of needs and services focused specifically on data curation.
The purpose of this survey is to uncover the current infrastructure (policy and technical) at ARL member
institutions for data curation, explore the current level of demand for data curation services, and discover
any challenges that institutions are currently facing regarding providing these services.
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