Gueguen – Question 3
3Why is data curation important to non-data curators?
Digital Archivist, Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library – University of Virginia
¶ 1 Leave a comment on paragraph 1 0 Data curation is important to anyone who uses data or will be affected by the use of data, so everyone, really! The difficult part is to make the concept accessible and to convey the importance to those not working in a data curation setting. In academic circles the idea that a researcher’s valuable contribution to the field could be unreadable in as little as ten years makes an impression. Many of the activities that curators can use to ensure the preservation of data are not controversial, such as storing data in standard formats and creating preservation metadata. Another way that data curators try to minimize risk is by putting data into open repositories. Having the data accessible and usable ensures that it is not forgotten and continues to be migrated to accessible formats. (In addition, creating copies and storing them in multiple networks builds in redundancy that can provide an extra safeguard.) But there is some understandable resistance to making data open access. When researchers hear stories about data security risks or plagiarism, they can become concerned about participating in things like open archives.
¶ 2 Leave a comment on paragraph 2 0 Similarly, in the special collections and archives community I work in, donors are sometimes reluctant to allow open access to the electronic material in their collections. In many cases we can come up with compromises that are acceptable to all parties, but it usually involves a lot of discussion and calming of fears. In other cases, we have data that was gathered at some point in the past and does not have commercial value. But since we cannot find the creator in order to obtain permission (because he or she left the materials with the library many years ago and has since moved or even passed away), we must restrict access. In this scenario we need to adopt a risk-management approach, balancing the likelihood of copyright infringement with the value of access, and to state clearly that we will remove content from accessible spaces if copyright is proven. For these reasons it is important to us, as data curators, to make sure that everyone is aware of the impact of our copyright laws and curation activities. We must also attempt to clarify the rights the donor would like to retain when material is donated.