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Faculty data management practices: A campus-wide census of STEM departments

John D'Ignazio and Jian Qin

ASIS&T 2008 Annual Meeting (AM08 2008)
Columbus, Ohio, October 24-29, 2008


As scientistsí means of communication and information behaviors have evolved over the past several decades due to computing and networking developments, the field of library and information science (LIS) has responded by surveying their changing practices. This study continues this type of research but switches focus away from scientistsí use of journal articles, the dominant means by which research libraries have supported their investigations, and instead concentrates on scientistsí practices related to data. The view of scientists as increasingly energetic generators, managers, and users of large and growing electronic datasets has lately been recognized and promoted at the societal level by funding agencies, academic societies, and large research centers.

The growth in data production and storage related to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) research has been attributed to the development and proliferation of enabling technologies and computer networks associated with cyberinfrastructure advancement, including sensors and sensor networks, high-throughput technologies and instrumentation, automated data acquisition, and computational modeling and simulation. [NSF, 2007] While the technical and societal forces encouraging scientists to produce this born-digital content continue unabated, attention to their resulting burden of managing this content for access and use has lagged behind. LIS-trained practitioners could contribute information management infrastructure to aid scientists but this infrastructure would have to be oriented to the variety of local, idiosyncratic, field-based approaches currently extant. [Borgman, 2007] A campus-wide census of data management practices at a Carnegie Classification Research II institution identifies what the variety of faculty data management practices is across the STEM departments.

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