17/01/2013 § 1 Comment

This is a guest post authored by Inga Haugen and the rest of the SciData cohort from the University of Tennessee, School of Information Sciences. This post introduces the innovative new program and how it brings people from various backgrounds together for a common goal — to educate scientific data curation professionals.

At University of Tennessee, Knoxville, a class of willing guinea pigs has started their first semester in the School of Information Sciences master’s program. The program’s goal is to push the limits of what library school is about and what it can be.

These 8 students are cohorts in an innovative program called SciData, are funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and will graduate May 2014. SciData was created by principal investigator Dr. Suzie Allard and co-PIs Dr. Carol Tenopir and Dr. Peiling Wang to address the lack of trained professionals who specialize in scientific data curation, but it’s looking to accomplish so much more!

Each student has their own focus and areas of interest – even different types of “science.” All are building specialties in digital data curation with an emphasis on scientific data publishing.

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[Series] So What Do You Do? My Internship Experience at NCAR

10/12/2012 § 2 Comments

National Center for Atmospheric Research

National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado, set against the Flatirons

This is the inaugural post in a new series called “So What Do You Do?” in which we will talk about our experiences in internships. We wanted to showcase the wide range of things people are doing in the world of library and information science.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Chris Eaker, and I’m a second year student in the School of Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. I’m specializing in scientific data curation and data management. I have a background in civil engineering, a career I held for nine years before going back to school.

So what do you do?

As part of my graduate research assistantship in the Data Curation Education in Research Centers project, I spent the summer of 2012 in Boulder, Colorado, working at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The goal of the project is to educate information science professionals in the field of data curation by putting them alongside active researchers.
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CURATEcamp Report (and Thoughts on the Unconference)

15/05/2012 § 5 Comments

Our Schedule for Day 2

There are a variety of “unconferences” devoted to certain aspects of the library and information science field. Examples are BarCamp (for open web technologies), THATcamp (for humanities and technology), InfoCamp (for general information enthusiasts), and CURATEcamp (for digital curation). Zack wrote about unconferences in his post InfoCamp and the Unconference. We also had a guest post from some students at University of Michigan about Quasi-Con. Rather than explain the unconference model again; I’ll just quote Zack:

The unconference structure is extremely flexible. Sessions grow and are scheduled organically, normally on a whiteboard, bulletin board, and/or Wiki, as the conference happens. This minimizes the planning ahead of time. Unconferences can take as much time as you would like to give them from one day to a week. Further they allow conference participants to democratize their usage of time by choosing where and on what time gets spent.

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Data Sharing: Panacea or Can of Worms?

24/02/2012 § 16 Comments

Author’s note: My interests within the LIS field are data curation and e-science librarianship. This is a hot topic that is growing every day, and skilled e-science librarians are needed to fill the gap. If you’re interested in learning more about data curation librarianship as a future career, leave a comment here, and I’ll follow up with more information.

Back in the Fall, Micah wrote a post about Open Access Week. In it he discussed open journals, open data, and the ALA Code of Ethics. Open data is what today’s post is about. An important ongoing question in the world of data curation today is how to get scientists to share their data by placing it in a data repository. There are many scientists who are unaware of the fact that their data has value to anyone but them and their research team. On the other hand, there are scientists who are very possessive of their data and don’t want to release it for fear that they will lose control of it and not be credited for its creation. There are also those who want to suck every drop of publishing potential out of a data set before releasing it to anyone else.

Last November, there were two requests for information (here and here) put out by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. One asked if peer-reviewed journal articles resulting from federally funded research should be accessible to the public. The other asked if data from federally funded research should be accessible to the public. OSTP has released the comments from that RFI here. I have not read all the responses, but the ones I have read seem to indicate that the support of open-access is high among those not affiliated with a publisher and cautious, at best, from those affiliated with a publisher. The questions, concerns, and issues I see raised generally deal with how journals can remain profitable for the value they add and how researchers can receive due credit for their efforts.

But let’s set aside the questions of whether scientists and researchers should be required to share their data and articles or even if it’s a good idea that they do it.  I think an even larger issue here is whether or not our current crop of scientists and researchers has the data management skills necessary to make the research data usable to anyone but themselves and their immediate research group. Data management practices of researchers are not exactly stellar. Infrequent or nonexistent backups, inadequate metadata on variables and research background, and loose standards all contribute to a set of data that is basically useless to anyone not involved with the project from the beginning.

Do you think that the data generators know how to manage their data properly? What can be done to improve the situation? How can librarians help?

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