Gueguen – Question 2
2In your role, are the main pressures on and needs of data curation the same across the sciences, social sciences, and humanities?
Digital Archivist, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library – University of Virginia
¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 I think that the answer is different if you look at pressures and needs separately. From my perspective in a research university, the sciences, social sciences, and humanities have similar needs, but to differing degrees. All three need to create infrastructure and standardization to make the data they are currently producing accessible in the future. If you look at the continuum of long-term use, the sciences have a much shorter lifespan for usable data, while the humanities have the longest (with the social sciences in between). On the other hand, the sciences are probably producing the greatest amount of data, while the humanities generate the smallest amount (again, social sciences fall somewhere in between). Because the humanities have a longer-term approach to research, additional issues of obsolescence come into play, like when a scholar is studying gaming in the 1980s or literature written on computers in the 1990s. In addition, the science data of today could become the historical data of tomorrow, so all of this data exists in a continuum, from my perspective.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Pressures, on the other hand, tend to be somewhat similar. Scholarly communication is undergoing a transformation in many respects. The traditional activities behind the creation of academic knowledge (research, writing, peer review, publishing) are being challenged by the open access movement and the emergence of big data. In addition, both science and humanities granting agencies are beginning to require data management plans. These pressures add up to changes in how data is created and managed. In the past, a scholar might have published a paper with the results of a study done using a large data set. Others could read the results, and perhaps do another study of a similar set in the future. All of this happened within the domain of academic publishing. Now, that scholar may have instead published his or her research paper in an open access journal that is only published on the web. The agency that funded that work may also expect the researcher to ensure the preservation and availability of the original dataset. This creates new information needs for both the scholar who needs help storing and providing access to his or her data, as well as the researcher who wants to find and use that data.
¶ 3 Leave a comment on paragraph 3 0 In this changing environment, the academic library can be a great ally to the community in helping ensure that the products of scholarship are secured for the future. More and more libraries, including UVa’s, are developing data consulting programs to help researchers develop data management plans, along with repositories to store data and provide access. The library needs to take these bold steps forward and let their academic colleagues know that we have the experience and ability to help with these monumental challenges.