Posts Tagged ‘data curation’

Did you ever wonder what goes on behind the scenes when Dryad curators review data files submitted by authors?  There are no wizards behind our curtains, just real live information specialists and trained data curators.

by Kaptain Kobold via Flickr

by Kaptain Kobold via Flickr

Dryad’s curation process is intentionally lightweight, so it doesn’t delay the availability of the data. Curators don’t review the scientific merit of the files – that is left to peer reviewers and the scientific community. Instead, we rely on our curators’ expertise in library and information science to ensure the integrity and preservation of the data.

Curators perform basic checks on each submission (can the files be opened? are they free of copyright restrictions? do they appear to be free of sensitive data?). The completeness and correctness of the metadata is checked and the DOI is officially registered. During their work, Dryad curators encounter thousands of data files in any number of file formats. Our team examines all of these data files to ensure they do, in fact, include data, and not manuscripts, or pictures of kittens.

Curators may communicate directly with submitters to address issues and/or to make suggestions about enhancing the description and reusability of the data package. They can also create new versions of data packages should corrections or additions be needed after archiving. Ultimately, the responsibility for the content of the files rests with the submitters, but Dryad’s curators can help to catch and fix many common problems – and some rare ones, too.

fileTypes_wordleSince Dryad’s inception, curation operations have been led by the Metadata Research Center (or MRC) directed by Dr. Jane Greenberg, initially at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and now at Drexel University. The team is supervised by Senior Curator Erin Clary, and currently includes all students in, or graduates of, Library and Information Science (LIS) or Informatics Master’s programs.

So, (wizard) hats off to all our behind-the-curtains data curators, whose vital contributions ensure that the data in the repository is findable and usable. If you have a question about Dryad curation or need advice on preparing your data for archiving, don’t hesitate to email us at curator@datadryad.org.

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Are you a librarian wondering what Dryad can do for you, and you can do for Dryad?  Please see our guest post on “Dryad for the Science Librarian” over at the New England eScience Portal.

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Ever wonder what happens to your Dryad data behind the scenes? Here’s a quick overview.

Once a depositor has uploaded their data files and finalized their submission, the Dryad curator is notified of the new content. The curator looks at the uploaded files to make sure they really do contain data (and not, say, the article manuscript or pictures of kittens). The curator then exerts some quality control on the metadata, the description of the article and data files. She corrects errors, such as typos or formatting tags that are displaying incorrectly, and may enrich the metadata, by adding taxon name keywords, for example. Advanced metadata enrichment issues include the tricky realm of name authority control, which ensures that all works by a given author are gathered together despite the varying forms of their name.

Once the curator approves the submission, the metadata description of the data goes live in the repository. The status of the data files themselves depends upon the embargo options selected by the depositor. Dryad DOIs (Digital Object Identifiers) are sent to the depositor and, in the case of our integrated partner journals, to the journal editors, so that they can be included in all forms of the final published article, and allow readers of the article to find the supporting data.

After the article is published, the curator adds complete article citation information, including a hyperlinked article DOI, to the Dryad record, and updates any data file embargoes, if needed.

The outcome is data files, which

  • are securely deposited in the repository, and linked to the journal article,
  • have a unique, permanent identifier that can be cited, and
  • can be discovered independently of the article, as well as through the article.

Additionally, authors can now track the views and downloads of their data files.   Dryad displays the number of times the data package has been viewed, and the number of times each component data file has been both viewed and downloaded.

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Data files in Dryad don’t just get dumped in there.  Someone is there to look after the accuracy and completeness of the metadata, to migrate data files into new formats when necessary, to help users with new submissions, and generally mind the details so that others can find and reuse the data files down the road.  This activity is called curation, and it is a critical behind-the-scenes function of a digital repository [1].   Here, we’d like to take this opportunity to introduce Dryad’s lead curator, Elena Feinstein.

Elena, who hails from Atlanta, has degrees in biology from NYU, education from Emory, and library & information science from the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. Before coming to Dryad, she taught high school and was a science librarian at UNC. Now, Elena works with the UNC Metadata Research Center curating Dryad’s content and continually improving all aspects of the way the repository manages its metadata.

When she’s not working on Dryad, Elena volunteers with the Durham Central Market co-op grocery store, and cooks and bakes until the wee hours.

Next time you submit data to Dryad, rest assured it will receive some quality attention from Elena.

[1] What is Digital Curation?, Digital Curation Centre

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