Dryad curators: wizards behind the curtain?

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.

Submission fees to be introduced in September 2013

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Dryad is a nonprofit organization fully committed to making scientific and medical research data permanently available to all researchers and educators free-of-charge without barriers to reuse.  For the past four years, we have engaged experts and consulted with our many stakeholders in order to develop a sustainability plan that will ensure Dryad’s content remains free to users indefinitely.  The resulting plan allows Dryad to recoup its operating costs in a way that recovers revenues fairly and in a scalable manner.  The plan includes revenue from submission fees, membership dues, grants and contributions.

A one-time submission fee will offset the actual costs of preserving data in Dryad.  The majority of costs are incurred at the time of submission when curators process new files, and long-term storage costs scale with each submission, so this transparent one-time charge ensures that resources scale with demand.  Dryad offers a variety of pricing plans for journals and other organizations such societies, funders and libraries to purchase discounted submission fees on behalf of their researchers.  For data packages not covered by a pricing plan, the researcher pays upon submission.  Waivers are provided to researchers from developing economies.  See Pricing Plans for a complete list of fees and payment options.  Submission fees will apply to all new submissions starting September 2013.

Membership dues will supplement submission fees, allowing Dryad to maintain its strong ties to the research community through its volunteer Board of Directors, Annual Membership Meetings, and  other outreach activities to researchers, educators and stakeholder organizations.  See Membership Information.

Grants will fund research, development and innovation.

Donations will support all of the above efforts.  In addition, Dryad will occasionally appeal to donors to fund special projects or specific needs, such as preservation of valuable legacy datasets and deposit waivers for researchers from developing economies.

We are grateful for all the input we have received into our sustainability plan, and look forward to your continued support in carrying out our nonprofit mission for many long years to come.