November 29, 2020

New Report from CLIR/DLF Looks at Need For Digital Curation Education

The following report was commissioned by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and was released earlier today.

It includes a section that focuses on curation education in the LIS field and lists current and emerging programs in the U.S.


The Problem of Data (28 pages; PDF)


Lori Jahnke
Andrew Asher
Spencer D. C. Keralis
with an introduction by Charles Henry


CLIR (Council on Library Resources)/DLF (Digital Library Foundation)

From the Executive Summary:

CLIR was commissioned by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to complete a study of data curation practices among scholars at five institutions of higher education. We conducted ethnographic interviews with faculty, postdoctoral fellows, graduate students, and other researchers in a variety of social sciences disciplines.The goals of the study were to identify barriers to data curation, to recognize unmet researcher needs within the university environment, and to gain a holistic understanding of the workflows involved in the creation, management, and preservation of research data. None of the researchers interviewed for this study have received formal training in data management practices, nor do they express satisfaction with their level of expertise. Researchers are learning on the job in an ad hoc fashion.• Few researchers, especially among those who are early in their career, think about long-term preservation of their data.

• The demands of publication output overwhelm long-term considerations of data curation. Metadata and documentation are of interest only if they help a researcher complete his or her work.

• There is a great need for more effective collaboration tools, as well as online spaces that support the volume of data generated and provide appropriate privacy and access controls.

• Few researchers are aware of the data services that the library might be able to provide and seem to regard the library as a dispensary of goods (e.g., books, articles) rather than a locus for real-time research/professional support.


• There is unlikely to be a single out-of-the-box solution that can be applied to the problem of data curation. Instead, an approach that emphasizes engagement with researchers and dialog around identifying or building the appropriate tools for a particular project is likely to be the most productive.

• Researchers must have access to adequate networked storage.

Universities should consider revising their access policies to support multi-institutional research projects.

• Educational or other training programs should focus on early intervention in the researcher career path for the greatest long-term benefit.

• Data curation systems should be integrated with the active research phase (i.e., as a backup and collaboration solution).

• In the area of privacy and data access control, additional tools should be developed to manage confidential data and provide the necessary security. Most importantly, policies must be developed that support researchers in this use of these technologies.

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.