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Exploration of Training for UC Librarians in Research Data Curation

As research data curation becomes an integral part of library services, for some librarians it is a core job duty and thus requires specialized, expert-level knowledge. Others may only need to become familiar with a broad overview of the issues. How are we ensuring that library staff have the knowledge and expertise to support researchers and students?

UC3 wanted to dig deeper to learn what was going on across the UC campuses and identify whether there are opportunities for systemwide engagement.  We conducted a brief online survey in Spring 2016 (see executive summary of results), plus one-on-one conversations with staff across the campuses, and we also performed an environmental scan to get a sense of available training resources. The results confirmed some things that we already knew and surfaced some interesting new opportunities.

What we learned

Across the academic library profession, there is a consistent need for librarians to strengthen existing skills as well as acquire new ones in order to provide support for research data curation. UC3 found that we should continue to leverage existing UC channels to promote systemwide efforts in research data curation. For example, we should work in close collaboration with the Data Curation Common Knowledge Group (a systemwide UC group made up of 1-4 staff members from each campus who are working in this area) and work to strengthen other existing channels. Below are some key insights we gathered:

Local campus context. Each campus faces its own challenges/opportunities. Providing basic data management support and resources is important, but it is equally important for each campus to tailor an approach that fits their local needs. Many of those surveyed expressed a desire to move programs through a stepped approach to help them mature over time.

Systemwide communication/cross-training. There is widespread interest in tapping into the expertise that exists across the campuses. Many recognize the value of holding in-person, cross-campus workshops.

Domain-specific curriculum development. Many domains/disciplines require discipline-specific resources. More research is necessary to prioritize the development of resources and expertise in particular domains. Given that most educational resources are geared toward the lab sciences, we suggest placing more emphasis on training for non-lab science and humanities disciplines.

Resource center. The environmental scan revealed an abundance of existing training materials. The survey results indicate that selecting and aggregating key open educational resources would be useful for campuses.

Basic training is needed (as well as specialized training). There are varying levels of expertise across the campuses and even within campuses. The survey results reveal that many library staff do not feel confident answering basic data-related questions themselves or advocating for good data management practices.

Guiding our next steps

With this information, we will continue to work with campuses to craft new approaches to tackle data curation training needs.  We will rely on these principles to help guide the way:

  • Recognize that there are varying levels of expertise across and within each campus and seek to address both sides
  • Ensure there is a shared baseline of knowledge of the fundamentals of research data curation
  • Identify opportunities for specialized training
  • Draw on the expertise of campus staff as well as external people
  • Build an online educational resource center
  • Provide training and share educational resources
  • Leverage existing resources and efforts to ensure that we are not duplicating efforts

For more information, see the  executive summary of results.