Problem, Community Needs, and Audience

Under The School of Information and Library Science, the Odum Institute for Research in Social Science, and University Libraries at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill seek to establish a comprehensive continuing learning program for librarians, archivists, Information and Library Science (ILS) students, and data creators that focuses on issues of data management, preservation, and archiving. The critical need for data stewardship education is one that major funding agencies, publishers, and research institutions are underscoring by impressing upon researchers their obligation to provide access to research data for purposes of validation and collaboration. Despite the issuance of funding agency mandates for data management plans, publisher policies on data access, and the expanding open data movement, few initiatives thus far have responded to the urgent need to educate researchers on how to meet their data stewardship obligations. Subsequently, these researchers are now summoning library and information professionals to provide guidance on how and where to store and provide access to their data. Currently, few tools beyond DataONE’s DMPTool exist to help data librarians, archivists, and information and library science (ILS) students to learn about data management and to provide instruction to data creators in their institutions.

To address these growing needs, the 3-year (2013-2016) CRADLE project will provide a suite of face-to-face (workshops and one-on-one guides) and online (Free University Platform) courses that focus on the knowledge, skills, and competencies increasingly required of today’s library and archives leaders to effectively respond to the growing and more complex data management needs of their institutions. Data creators will find the free online educational environment accessible, understandable, and relevant to their disciplinary needs. The initial focus will be on tools for the social and human sciences with extension to the natural and health sciences.

Primary Objectives:

Project CRADLE (Curating Research Assets and Data using Lifecycle Education) has the following objectives:

1. Produce high-quality instructional courses focusing on data management for researchers in the social/human sciences to be delivered through a massive open online course (MOOC) “Free University” platform. These tools will be the core of this project. Librarians, archivists, and ILS students will both learn from these courses and be able to use them with data creators from the social, natural, and health sciences.

2. Provide the multimedia self-paced courses through online “Free University” platforms, thus extending CRADLE’s impact to professionals around the nation and the world whose current employment situation may not accommodate a traditional degree program or in-residence coursework.

3. Create face-to-face workshops and one-on-one consulting guides that information professionals can employ when instructing and assisting data creators.

4. Educate two ILS master’s students in data curation and provide experiential and situated learning by working with data creators and information professionals as the CRADLE tools are developed and rolled out.

5. Provide experiential and situated learning for two ILS Ph.D. students in producing and implementing data management learning tools with and for data creators and information professionals.

6. Extend the SILS Data Curation Curriculum to include enhanced content focusing on working with data creators and data curation providers, thus serving hundreds of future data curation students.

7. Provide a culminating workshop/conference to instruct information professionals in the use of the CRADLE tools.

Measurable Audience Outcomes:

1. A greater awareness of data management best practices as defined in scholarly works and practice-based research as measured through completion of the online courses and attendance at information professional workshops.

2. Distribution of educational materials across geographic boundaries and outside of traditional training programs resulting in a greater impact in the delivery of data management curation knowledge as measured across geographic and political boundaries.

3. Successful completion of the SILS program by two Master’s students focused on education for data curation.

Among the primary benefits of the proposed continuing education program in data stewardship will be a cohort of professionals prepared to face current and future challenges of research data; and a significant contribution towards the establishment of a culture that supports institutions’ investments in research. The combination of professionally trained data curators with information technology geared toward reaching a massively-scaled audience of scientific data creators, including researchers in universities, private corporations, and government, will help ensure widespread impact of the CRADLE project.


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