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Research Article

How Important is Data Curation? Gaps and Opportunities for Academic Libraries


Lisa R Johnston ,

University of Minnesota, US
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Jacob Carlson,

University of Michigan Ann Arbor MI, US
About Jacob
Jake Carlson is the Research Data Services Manager at the University of Michigan Library. In this role, he explores the application of the theories, principles, and practices of library science beyond the domain of traditional “library work.” In particular, Carlson seeks to increase the capabilities and opportunities for research libraries to provide services supporting data-related research. Much of his work is done through direct collaborations and partnerships with research faculty. Carlson is a primary architect of the Data Curation Profiles Toolkit ( developed by Purdue and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the PI of the Data Information Literacy project (
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Cynthia Hudson-Vitale,

Washington University in St. Louis, US
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Heidi Imker,

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, US
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Wendy Kozlowski,

Cornell University, US
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Robert Olendorf,

Pennsylvania State University, US
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Claire Stewart

University of Minnesota Minneapolis Minnesota, US
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INTRODUCTION Data curation may be an emerging service for academic libraries, but researchers actively “curate” their data in a number of ways—even if terminology may not always align. Building on past userneeds assessments performed via survey and focus groups, the authors sought direct input from researchers on the importance and utilization of specific data curation activities. METHODS Between October 21, 2016, and November 18, 2016, the study team held focus groups with 91 participants at six different academic institutions to determine which data curation activities were most important to researchers, which activities were currently underway for their data, and how satisfied they were with the results. RESULTS Researchers are actively engaged in a variety of data curation activities, and while they considered most data curation activities to be highly important, a majority of the sample reported dissatisfaction with the current state of data curation at their institution. DISCUSSION Our findings demonstrate specific gaps and opportunities for academic libraries to focus their data curation services to more effectively meet researcher needs. CONCLUSION Research libraries stand to benefit their users by emphasizing, investing in, and/or heavily promoting the highly valued services that may not currently be in use by many researchers.
How to Cite: Johnston, L.R., Carlson, J., Hudson-Vitale, C., Imker, H., Kozlowski, W., Olendorf, R. and Stewart, C., 2018. How Important is Data Curation? Gaps and Opportunities for Academic Libraries. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication, 6(1), p.eP2198. DOI:
Published on 26 Apr 2018.
Peer Reviewed


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