Data curation is an emerging field in the scientific and research information storage field, and data curators are specialists who store and maintain important research information. Many high-ranking institutions employ data curators and mass information management systems. The institutions use these systems with unique identifiers, which makes the information accessible despite location changes over extended time periods. Data curators view information storage methodically and from various viewpoints, and as institutions grow their information stacks, they will require more data curation specialists.
Data Curation Defined
Data curation is a dynamic process that scientists use to proactively preserve information utility and value. Data curators also monitor and mitigate information redundancy. This process is similar to the many open source projects present on the Internet; however, curated data is for specific academic and research communities. Just like data curation’s open source peers, specialists in their given field can modify and add information to the database. This transparency facilitates peer authentication, which is a staple in scientific circles.
Data Curation in Action
The MERRITT Repository is one such curated database. The University of California Curation Center (UC3) maintains the digest in the California Digital Library (CDL). The site offers academics and researchers data storage capabilities that are beyond the grasp of individuals and small research groups with small budgets. With MERRITT, scientists and researchers can post data sets and reports in real-time. The UC3 handles data storage and maintenance. This leaves researchers free to focus on their primary work without concerning themselves with data storage integrity. The UC3 site promises to maintain their servers for an indefinite period, making any information published there available for decades.
Making Sense of It All
EZID is a pivotal data curation component. Data curators use the technology to create unique identifiers for published materials. EZID technology works with various media such as complete files, file segments, community contacts or groups, and other information. The identification system works with online and offline sources. If a researcher moves their information to another webpage or location, the identifier leads to the new location. This subscription technology keeps the information accessible indefinitely. Academics and researchers in law, archeology, business, geology, biology and other disciplines use data curation services and EZID to build organized, accessible knowledge bases.
Data Curation Skill Sets
The data curation skill set is very similar to a librarian’s skill set. Data curators possess strong research expertise. These information specialists are also experts in citations. They manage complex information volumes that span a wide subject range.
Data curators also have strong metadata skills. Metadata is a reference code that communicates with other indexing software such as search engines. The descriptive snippets help information seekers find what they are looking for among vast information storehouses. In addition to these skills, a data curator is an expert at using and navigating the hardware and software used to contain information warehouses.
These information storage and maintenance specialists know how to express complex concepts in an understandable manner. They delegate research responsibilities and are leaders among their peers. To work well with large datasets, the curators manage their time effectively. They are knowledgeable in storing large information volumes securely. Data curators also monitor and report on when and how researchers access the information stores.
Data Curation Components
Data curators approach the discipline from several angles. As curators, the specialists add value to given tombs throughout their lifespan. They work to preserve the data so that researchers can fully exploit and understand the information. Institutions charge data curators with storing sensitive and invaluable information. To that end, data curators are experts in storage media, cloud services and file backup and recovery.
Information privacy affects all industries that manage potentially sensitive data and regulations are in place to maintain this privacy. To prevent privacy leaks, researchers cannot share preliminary findings, rough drafts and trade secrets. The government also requires academics and researchers to keep commercial research, peer communications, trade secrets and lab samples private.
The medical field is the most publicly known area where government intervention affects privacy rights. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) created a large industry that revolves around bringing the medical profession up to privacy codes and maintaining privacy standards. Data curators are responsible for making sure that their given institutions comply with the new privacy regulations.
Data Curation Development
Data curators maintain information for its entire life-cycle or usefulness. The digital curation life-cycle can last decades. A data curator follows a particular outline when setting up an information storage system. The specialists begin by determining the project needs. Then they build the necessary files to place in storage and delegate the tasks required to build the database.
The data curators then test the system to make sure that all interested parties can access the network. Once the system is functioning, the curator evaluates its contents and earmarks the items that require lengthy preservation. Periodically, the curator removes outdated data from the information repository.
Digital curators move long-term storage data to special areas in the information databank. They monitor these items to ensure their integrity. From time to time, data curators conduct a full system hardware and software evaluation. Some institutions charge the specialists with all information storage and maintenance responsibilities.
Careers in Data Curation
Some library experts view data curation as the next librarian career track evolution. As the field gains traction, universities are adding data curation courses to their curricula. This is in response to the growing need for these professionals. In the contemporary job market, any information technology skills increase a prospective employee’s value. As academic and research volumes expand, so will data curator job demand.
As technology and research advance, so do the methods required to store the resulting reports. Large-scale academic and research facilities employ data curators to maintain this valuable information. Data curators carefully plan long-term storage setup and monitoring. The specialists use EZID technology so that the information stores remain forever accessible. In the future – as institutions amass more information – they will increasingly demand data curation expertise.
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