Munoz – Question 1
1How is data curation a part of your job?
Associate Director, Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH); Assistant Dean of Digital Humanities Research, University Libraries – University of Maryland
¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 In my current position, data curation is part of the larger design problem of how to use digital tools and methodologies to accomplish innovative humanities research. I am a librarian trained in digital humanities and data curation now working in both an academic research library (University of Maryland Libraries) and in a leadership position at a successful digital humanities center (the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities). My job involves data curation as part of strategic planning, project development, teaching and training, and, most generally, producing public research that others can build upon, continue, and enrich.1 As I have written elsewhere (with Allen Renear), data curation refers to “the challenge of maintaining digital information that is produced in the course of research in a manner that preserves its meaning and usefulness as a potential input for further research.”2 This can involve everything from just making the responsibilities for data management explicit in the form of a plan to more intensive work like creating documentation or normalizing “messy” data. In working on the kinds of diverse teams that get assembled to do digital humanities work, I try to be the one who is extra mindful of what is happening to the project data, just as I expect the software developers to be most aware of our technical architecture and the disciplinary specialist to be most aware of what intervention our project is trying to make in scholarly debates.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 I am convinced that as the materials and analytical practices of humanities research become increasingly digital, the theoretical knowledge and practical skills of information science, librarianship, and archival science—which come together in the research and practice of data curation—will become more vital to more humanists. At the level of strategic planning, data curation work is mostly awareness building; this involves introducing data curation into discussions as diverse as how we build all our websites, to how we imagine and staff new positions. At the level of project development, data curation takes a more concrete shape in the work we do. Much of the research I work on is generously supported by funders such as the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH). Like funders of scientific research, the Office of Digital Humanities at the NEH requires that proposals for funding include data management plans. Some of my work involves writing these plans and developing practices for monitoring and following up on their content.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 Finally, data curation needs to become part of our shared understanding of what it means to do humanities research, especially with digital materials. This will mean adapting not only our methods and methods courses but also our standards for professional work, benchmarks for success, and the extra-professional socialization into a field that helps new researchers absorb these standards. Part of bringing these changes about involves teaching and training about the importance of data curation and how to do it. I try to contribute to this by finding opportunities to teach data curation to other librarians and humanists. At the first Digital Humanities Winter Institute, which I co-directed with Jennifer Guiliano, we introduced a course on “Data Curation for Digital Humanists” (which Dorothea Salo and I teach). Thanks again to the support of the NEH, Julia Flanders, Dorothea, and I will be offering similar short courses as part of a series of humanities data-curation workshops funded by a grant from the Institutes for Advanced Topics in the Digital Humanities.
- ¶ 4 Leave a comment on paragraph 4 0
- Mark Sample, “When Does Service Become Scholarship?” SAMPLE REALITY, February 8, 2013, http://www.samplereality.com/2013/02/08/when-does-service-become-scholarship/. [↩]
- Trevor Muñoz and Allen Renear, “Issues in Humanities Data Curation,” June 15, 2011, https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/handle/2142/30852. [↩]