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Data Curation In Action: A Panel Discussion

by Lisa Federer
Health and Life Sciences Librarian
UCLA Louise M. Darling Biomedical Library

On May 16, 2012, the UCLA Library held a panel discussion entitled Data Curation in Action, designed to introduce librarians to the real-life challenges that researchers face in working with their research data. “Data” and “eResearch” are quickly becoming hot topics in libraries, and librarians have a great deal of knowledge and experience relevant to supporting researchers’ data needs, but many librarians lack a concrete sense of what exactly researchers’ data look like. This panel discussion was designed to introduce librarians and others interested in data curation to the many types of data researchers use and the challenges they face. Four panelists were selected to represent the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.

Social Sciences – Tamar Kremer-Sedlik and Paul Connor, Division of Social Sciences
Dr. Tamar Kremer-Sedlik, Director of Programs for the UCLA Division of Social Sciences, and Paul Connor, Digital Projects Director, Division of Social Sciences, spoke about their work with the Center for Everyday Lives of Families (CELF). Their project collected a variety of data about families, including thousands of hours of video, still photographs, cortisol levels from saliva samples, and more.

Humanities – Christopher Johanson, Department of Classics
Dr. Christopher Johanson, assistant professor of Classics, Associate Director of the UCLA Experiential Technologies Center, and Co-Director of the Laboratory for Digital Cultural Heritage, discussed his work on virtual models of historical Roman cities. He demonstrated an interactive virtual model of the Roman forum that allows users to “walk” through the streets of ancient Rome as it existed at the time.

Sciences – Carly Strasser, University of California Curation Center (UC3)
Dr. Carly Strasser, project manager for UC3’s Data Curation for Excel project, spoke about her research on oceanographic population studies, while also drawing on her expertise in data gained from her work at UC3 and DataONE.

The panelists each presented an overview and demonstration of the kinds of data they collect, and then answered questions from the moderator and the audience. The program highlighted the diversity of data that exists across the UCLA campus, and encouraged librarians from all subject areas to think about how they can support researchers with their data needs. A YouTube video of the panel discussion is also available.

For librarians who are interested in learning more about how they can support the data needs of their patrons, programs like Data Curation in Action can help provide concrete examples of what “data” means to researchers. Librarians can gain knowledge by talking with individual researchers at their institution as well. The Data Curation Profiles website is another valuable resource for librarians who will be working with research data. The profiles, compiled by librarians after interviewing researchers, introduce the data practices and challenges for various fields, and can be helpful for librarians preparing to work with researchers.

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