Friday

lyd_05_friday

Rescuing unloved data

Message of the day

“Data that is mobile, visible and well-loved stands a better chance of surviving” ~ Kurt Bollacker

Things to consider

Legacy, heritage and at-risk data share one common theme: barrier to access. Data that has been recorded by hand (field notes, lab notebooks, handwritten transcripts, measurements or ledgers) or on outdated technology or using proprietary formats are at risk.

Securing legacy data takes time, resources and expertise but is well worth the effort as old data can enable new research and the loss of data could impede future research. So how to approach reviving legacy or at-risk data?

How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.

  1. Recover and inventory the data
    • Format, type
    • Accompanying material–codebooks, notes, marginalia
  2. Organize the data
    • Depending on discipline/subject: date, variable, content/subject
  3. Assess the data
    • Are there any gaps or missing information
    • Triage–consider nature of data along with ease of recovery
  4. Describe the data
    • Assign metadata at the collection/file level
  5. Digitize/normalize the data:
    • Digitization is not preservation. Choose a file format that will retain its functionality (and accessibility!) over time: “Which file formats should I use?”
  6. Review
    • Confirm there are no gaps or indicate where gaps exist
  7. Deposit and disseminate
    • Make the data open and available for re-use

Stories

Resources

Activities

There are many opportunities to rescue at-risk or legacy data. Locally, as faculty retire, reach out to departments to assist in curating existing yet inaccessible data. Regionally and nationally, partner with other stakeholders to revitalize at-risk data. Think: Citizen Science.

Get involved with the #datarefuge project

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