Data Curation is for Everyone! The Case for Master's and Baccalaureate Institutional Engagement with Data Curation

Yasmeen Shorish, James Madison University

"This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in the Journal of Web Librarianship, Vol. 6, Iss. 4, 2012; copyright Taylor & Francis, available online at:"


This article describes the fundamental challenges to data curation, how these challenges may be compounded for smaller institutions, and how data management is an essential and manageable component of data curation. Data curation is often discussed within the confines of large, research universities. As a result, master’s and baccalaureate institutions may be left with the impression that they cannot engage with data curation. However, by proactively engaging with faculty, libraries of all sizes can build closer relationships and help educate faculty on data documentation and organization best practices. Experiences from one master’s comprehensive institution as it engages with data management can provide guidance on how to begin the conversation and plan for future engagement with data curation. In a period of several months, James Madison University went from no formal data advising to a coordinated data management support plan for faculty. Collaboration across campus—and across institutions—can help make data curation an accomplishable goal. Comparisons to scalable efforts with institutional repositories are made to further encourage participation with data curation. Funding agency mandates are not the only cause for engagement with research data. Research universities account for 297 of the 1832 four-year institutes of higher education in the United States of America. There must be stewardship of the data from the remaining 1535 organizations to help preserve the complete intellectual product of the nation. Additional resources and readings are included.