Last week I attended the DigCurV Project’s International Conference in Florence. The subject was Framing the Digital Curation Curriculum, and it was great to have a chance to hear about the work that’s being done in this area by DigCurV and other groups and institutions around the world, while catching up with old acquaintances – including a few other people from the JISC MRD Programme – and making some new ones.
The programme offered numerous reflections on the training available for both digital curation professionals and others involved in the process of preserving material for the long term. I was there to talk about what we’d learned in the process of developing training for researchers – because planning for digital curation needs to start as early as possible in the research process, not just when material is handed over to an archive or repository. A copy of my presentation (and the paper it was based on, co-authored with my colleague James A. J. Wilson) is available via the DaMaRO Project Ouputs page.
One of the hot topics at the conference was DigCurV’s newly developed Curriculum Framework. This outlines four categories of key skills (knowledge and intellectual abilities; personal qualities; professional conduct; management and quality assurance), and maps these to different roles in the digital curation process via three lenses – one for practitioners, one for managers, and one for executives. There was a lot of fruitful discussion about how the framework might be used in planning and developing training and education in digital curation, and on how it might evolve or be added to in the future (perhaps unsurprisingly, my own take was that I’d love to see this expanded to include a researcher or data creator lens).
The conference also included a presentation on (and an opportunity to play) DigCurV’s ingenious Curate game – an educational board game designed to provide a fun way of encouraging people to explore some of the issues surrounding digital curation and preservation. This looks like a fantastic tool, and I hope to find opportunities to use it myself in the future.
As is often the case, the informal discussion over coffee or a glass of wine provided almost as much food for thought as the formal sessions. One issue that came up was that of providing case studies or researcher stories illustrating the benefits of data sharing. A lot of effort is currently going into persuading researchers that making their data available for re-use should be the norm wherever possible – this is, for example, something we’re covering in both the face-to-face training and the online guidance DaMaRO is developing. Yet while we tell researchers that this will benefit them as well as the wider researcher community, by allowing them to get credit for the shared datasets, and by exposing their research to new potential audiences, we don’t currently have much to present in the way of specific examples where this has happened. There is a significant body of evidence about the correlation between data sharing and citation rates, which is a great start, but it would be wonderful also to have some personal accounts from researchers who’ve found that data sharing has brought them concrete benefits. These stories must be out there – it’s just a matter of finding and collecting them. A task for a future research data management project, perhaps?