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Moving beyond technology: iSchools and education in data curation.
Is Data Curator a new role?

September 26, 2013, Valletta, Malta

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Workshop background

The increase of digital content in the broad areas of Institutional and domain specific Repositories, Libraries, Archives and Museums and the increased interest in the sharing and preservation of "research data" have triggered the emergence of some buzz words that more and more appear in the literature, such as Convergence, Digital Curation and Data Curator.


In this context it is related to the merging of the education curricula for information professionals in the disciplines of Library Science, Archival, and Museum Studies, under the assumption that the digitization of the collections is blurring the traditional boundaries between those three professions. In many iSchools (a collection of Information Schools dedicated to advancing the information field), convergence is becoming a relevant issue in the definition of education curricula related to the "management of digital collections". There is often a close relationships between iSchools and schools of Computer Science, and that is a further incentive to explore and support some degree of education convergence, given that Information Technology is usually considered as the common denominator of the three professions.

Digital Curation

Curation is a term used by cultural institutions, such as libraries, archives and above all museums as well as by scholars and creators of large databases (e.g. Genome). It indicates those activities that add value and knowledge to the collections, and the added value is usually given by the curator or manager of the cultural institution. The services provided (by the curator) give evidence to this added value and also, since the curator is able to interpret the significance of the collection and to communicate it to the users, the services can assume an educational role.

The term digital curation is used to describe the actions needed to maintain digital material, including digital research data, over their entire life-cycle and over time, for current and future generations of users. Implicit in this definition are the processes of digital archiving and preservation but it also includes all the processes needed for good data creation and management, and the capacity to add value to data to generate new sources of information and knowledge. Assuming that there is a set of the "core competencies" needed by a Digital Curator, it is yet to be understood how those competencies could at the same time play in favour of the convergence (given the digital nature of the resources to be curated) and in favour of a professional identity (given the different focus and mission of the three disciplines, where the value adding and the access to the collections would remain different).

Data Curator

Today practically all the research activities are based on digital sources, and therefore a particular aspect of Digital Curation is the storage, management and preservation of digital research data. Digital research data can take many different aspects, such as previous publications, images, video, audio, data bases, email, web sites, etc., and most of the time those data are specific to the research field. There are a number of good reasons for preserving research data: good scientific practice and prevention of fraud, re-use and further analysis of old data, excessive cost for generating again the data, impossibility to reproduce the data (e.g. climate measurement or astronomy). The term Data Curator is more and more used to indicate the person/organization responsible for all the activities connected with the management (curation) of research data. However, it is not (yet) clear which of the existing professional roles are best suited for this activity. Should there be a Data Librarian, or a Data Archivist, or a Data Museum curator ? Or is this a new role to be invented from scratch ? Or should the responsibility of curating research data be given to the "data producers", i.e. the researchers themselves ?

Workshop objectives

The main objective of the workshop is to provide additional insight in the complex interplay between education, research and curation (including long term preservation) of digital data. In more practical terms, it is expected to contribute to a more precise definition of the content of the curricula needed for the education and training of the information professionals, gain a better understanding of the level at which a convergence of the three traditional professions could be achieved, contribute to a more global view of the access and preservation of research outcomes (for present and future sharing), which today are very often scattered in libraries, archives, institutional repositories, data bases, etc.

Expected contributors and participants in this workshop are educators, information professionals involved in the storage and preservation of research data, scholars from different disciplines interested in understanding and achieving the preservation of their research data. Most of the participants in the TPDL series of conferences are usually involved both in Education and Research, and many of them are to some extent involved or interested in Digital Curation. The workshop intends to provide an opportunity for discussing and sharing experiences both in research and education, especially in the context of curation of research data. The satellite event "G-WiS: Global Collaboration of iSchools", also being held in connection with TPDL 2013, should provide additional opportunities for contributions and participation from scholars and educators in iSchools, since those schools have traditionally been in the forefront for innovative curricula and adaptation to a changing environment in education, research and professional activities.

The workshop is the ideal continuation of a series of workshops and events, which started in 2005 with a workshop on "Information Technologies profiles and curricula for libraries" (held at the University of Parma) , and has continued through five more events up to the last one in February 2013 with the workshop "iSchools Building on the Strengths Found in the Convergence of Librarianship, Archival, and Museum Studies to Improve the Education of Managing Digital Collections" (held in connection with the iConference 2013 at Fort Worth). A detailed descriptions of the events and an analysis of their results can be found in: A.M. Tammaro, V. Casarosa, D. Castelli, "Closing the gap: interdisciplinary perspectives on research and education for digital libraries", IRCDL 2013, Rome, Italy, to appear in Communications in Computer and Information Science, Springer, 2013.

Call for Papers - Topics of interest

We invite contributions and concrete examples of research projects, educational programmes and training initiatives in digital curation and research data management, illustrating approaches, methodologies and success stories addressing the need for an increasingly qualified "information workforce" in the data library, data centre, archive, museum and cultural heritage sectors. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

  • Who is the Digital Curator ?
  • Education of researchers and curators for the present and the future
  • Core skills for the data scientist
  • Training programmes and modules for data curation
  • How are data curation skills embedded in curricula ?
  • Data science curricula: building human capacity
  • Lifelong learning in digital curation
  • Existing opportunities for information professionals
  • Sustainability of digital curation curricula
  • Multimodal methods of teaching and learning digital curation
  • Capitalizing on the value of open data
  • Data publication and its role in scholarly communication
  • Tensions between maintaining quality and openness when publishing research data
  • Tensions between maintaining openness and ownership when publishing research data
  • Workflows in the data lifecycle
  • Effective management, sharing and reuse of research data
  • Mobile data services to enhance teaching, learning and research
  • Implementation of cultural changes: barriers and enablers
  • How curators are deployed in practice?
  • What are the new research and development results in data curation?
  • Curation of disciplinary, multidisciplinary and/or mixed data collections
  • Convergence for the next generation of data preservation and curation

Submission details

Authors are invited to submit original, unpublished research or position papers related to the topics mentioned above or, more generally, to the objectives of the workshop. All submissions are required to be in PDF, not exceeding 10 pages formatted according to Springer's LNCS format.

Please submit your contribution using the EasyChair online submission system:

All submissions will be reviewed by at least three members of the Program Committee. All papers accepted must be presented by a workshop registered participant.

Depending on the quality and number of papers submitted, the organizers will evaluate the possibility of publishing the workshop proceedings.

Important dates

  • Submission Deadline: June 30, 2013 Deadline extended to 10th of July
  • Acceptance Notification: July 28, 2013
  • Final version submission: August 25, 2013
  • Workshop: September 26, 2013

Organizing and Meta-Program Committee

  • Vittore Casarosa (CNR-ISTI, Italy)
  • Donatella Castelli (CNR-ISTI, Italy)
  • Seamus Ross (University of Toronto)
  • Anna Maria Tammaro (University of Parma)

Program Committee

  • Kevin Ashley (Digital Curation Centre, UK)
  • Christoph Becker (University of Toronto)
  • Toni Carbo (Drexel University, USA)
  • Paul Conway (University of Michigan)
  • Kate Fernie (MDR Partners, UK)
  • Mariella Guercio (University of Roma La Sapienza)
  • Carolyn Hank (University of Tennessee)
  • Cal Lee (University of North Carolina)
  • Jens Ludwig (Göttingen State and University Library)
  • John McDonald (University of Toronto)
  • Nancy McGovern (MIT)
  • Mary Molinaro (University of Kentucky)
  • Andy Rauber (Technical University of Vienna)
  • Michael Seadle (Humboldt University, Berlin)
  • Stefan Strathmann (Göttingen State and University Library)
  • Manfred Thaller (University of Cologne)
  • Terry Weech (University of Illinois)

Platinum sponsor

Government of Malta - Ministry for Finance

Golden sponsor

Malta Tourism Authority Visit Malta

Springer LNCS
JCDL 2013, Indiana, USA
ICADL 2013, Bangalore, India
MTSR 2013, Thessaloniki, Greece
SIGIR 2014, Gold Coast, Australia
ELPUB 2014, Thessaloniki, Greece

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Organized by the University of Malta in partnership with COST - European Cooperation in Science and Technology.

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