News and Updates

DCN Holds First Annual All Hands Meeting

posted Aug 17, 2018, 2:26 PM by Elizabeth Coburn

Our first annual Data Curation Network All Hands Meeting was hosted at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota USA July 23-25, 2018. The meeting provided a valuable opportunity for all of the team members of the Data Curation Network (DCN) implementation phase to meet one another and engage on important and pertinent topics such as the challenges of, and strategies for, curating research data. Who are we? The DCN is currently made up of 28 people that includes librarians, data curators, administrators, and digital repository specialists from eight academic institutions and the general purpose repository Dryad. Our kick-off meeting helped inform and shape the goals of the DCN and will allow us to share expert data curation staff across a network of institutions.

This year, the DCN took a “flipped classroom” approach to data curation training. Before the meeting, DCN Curators were asked to follow the DCN CURATE Steps for a dataset from one of four data types: tabular, survey, code or geospatial. During the workshop exercise, group members discussed their experiences curating the practice dataset, and made suggestions to the larger group on enhancements or changes that could be made to the CURATE Checklist to assist in real-life curation of datasets once we launch the DCN. Another interesting thing that came out of this exercise was the development of a shared list of tools for curating data. This “living” resource will eventually be published to the DCN website.





Caption: Dataset groups discussing the steps taken to curate their test case.

                       Caption: DCN co-PIs prioritize activities for the coming year.

The last day focused on workflows. Team members of each partner institution were asked to sit together and, as a group, channel their creative sides and map out their respective data curation workflows using as few words as possible and indicate where the DCN fit into their local workflow. Once completed these workflows were presented to the larger group round robin-style. Understanding all of the different processes and workflows at each institution was really helpful in thinking about how the workflows of the DCN would fit within the various ways that institutions curate data, and how to make everything as seamless as possible.

                   Caption: DCN teams share out their drawings of how their local institution curates data.

All in all the first annual All Hands Meeting was a great success! I started in my new role as the DCN Project Coordinator the week before the meeting, so this was my first interaction with the team as a whole. I was thrilled to witness and participate in all of the energetic and informative discussions that took place over the course of the meeting. I’m very excited about this project, and I’m proud to be working with such a wonderful and talented group of people.

Feedback from the other participants was also very positive overall. They found the meeting to be well-organized, well-led and ultimately useful. The webinars leading up to the meeting, and the activities, exercises, and discussions during the meeting were also helpful. Most participants also reported feeling more comfortable with the DCN and their ability to contribute in a meaningful way after attending the meeting. There was also a lot of great feedback on additional training, support, and resources that would assist curators in their work. We look forward to incorporating these ideas into the Data Curation Network in the coming months and are excited to get to work!

Thank you to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for making the DCN possible!



               Caption: DCN group photos!

DCN to Develop Nationwide Training on Specialized Data Curation

posted Jun 26, 2018, 11:58 AM by Lisa Johnston   [ updated Jul 6, 2018, 1:35 PM by Cynthia Vitale ]

Members of the Data Curation Network will lead a 2-year, specialized data curation training program. Funded by a $247,379 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, this program will develop and deliver specialized data curation training for library staff and professionals, nationwide.

This training will build upon previous efforts of the DCN to extend librarian capacity to richly curate research data. Many librarians and library staff are being called upon to archive and curate the heterogeneous data being produced on academic campuses nationwide. The Specialized Data Curation training program will address both the need for front line library staff to gain confidence in research data-related services, and enhance the discipline knowledge of research data, repository, and archival staff, through a peer-to-peer training model.  

Principal investigator, Cynthia Hudson-Vitale, will be joined by:

  • Mara Blake, Data Services Manager, Johns Hopkins University

  • Jake Carlson, Research Data Services Manager, University of Michigan

  • Joel Herndon, Head of Data and Visualization Services, Duke University Libraries

  • Lisa Johnston, Research Data Management/Curation Lead, University of Minnesota

  • Jennifer Moore, Data Services Coordinator, Washington University in St. Louis

  • Wendy Kozlowski, Data Curation Specialist, Cornell University Library

This program will be comprised of three geographically distributed workshops, the first of which will take place in October 2018 and co-located with Digital Library Federation Forum. Each training cohort will complete a capstone project that results in a functional or discipline specific data curation primer, which is meant to assist library staff nationwide in curating various types of research data.

For more information please visit:

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s approximately 120,000 libraries(link is external) and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook(link is external) and Twitter(link is external).

The DCN project is hiring!

posted May 1, 2018, 2:17 PM by Lisa Johnston

Data Curation Network Project Coordinator

 University of Minnesota Libraries

The Data Curation Network (DCN) project seeks applications for a proactive and enthusiastic Project Coordinator. This is a three-year project designed to expand and launch a cross-institutional staffing model for curating research data across a network of partner institutions and general data repositories.

With support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Data Curation Network will provide data curators an opportunity to share their specialized expertise across institutional boundaries and enable data repositories to professionally curate a wider variety of data at a greater depth than previously possible. Visit the project web site for more information at The Project Coordinator will bring combined skills in data curation, project management, and team-building to help shape the future of the DCN. This position, based at the University of Minnesota Libraries, will coordinate all aspects of the Data Curation Network and report to the project’s principal investigator and Director of the Data Repository for the University of Minnesota (DRUM).

The Project Coordinator will work with a distributed network of data curators across eight institutions: University of Minnesota Libraries, Sheridan Libraries at Johns Hopkins University, University of Michigan Library, Duke University Libraries, University Library at University of Illinois at Urbana­-Champaign, Cornell University Library, Penn State University Libraries, and Dryad Digital Repository. Specifically, the Coordinator will oversee the daily operations of the Network, assign data sets to the appropriate DCN Curator, and track/monitor a dataset’s progress through the Network to ensure consistent and high quality service. The Project Coordinator will engage in business and planning aspects of the project along with a team of 10 dedicated data repository managers and project Co-PIs who are committed to the success of the DCN. Dependent on disciplinary background and expertise, the Coordinator may also take on data curation duties as needed.



  • Master’s degree from an American Library Association accredited library school or equivalent combination of advanced degree and relevant experience.

  • Demonstrated understanding of scientific research methods and data collection processes.

  • Knowledge of data repositories, preservation, and curation concepts and their application.

  • Excellent communication, presentation, and interpersonal skills.

  • Ability to work collaboratively with colleagues in a service-oriented, virtual, and collaboration-intensive environment.

  • Demonstrated knowledge of and commitment to the benefits of diversity and inclusion throughout an organization.


  • Experience working with data in a research setting.

  • Demonstrated project management skills.

  • Demonstrated creativity, initiative and self-direction.

  • Familiarity with metadata standards, creation, schemas, or management.

  • Knowledge of software packages and file formats for collecting and analyzing scientific data, such as R, MATLAB, Python, as well as tools and workflows for supporting reproducible research.   

  • Understanding of trends in academic research support and expertise in providing research lifecycle support.

  • Demonstrated experience working collaboratively and effectively to support remote and/or virtual users.

This is a full-time, 12-month, annual renewable, academic professional position with an appointment at the assistant or associate librarian level. The University of Minnesota Libraries offers excellent benefits and the Twin Cities provide an exciting urban center surrounded by outdoor adventure.

For more information and to apply, go to Applications will be accepted until position is filled; first review of applications will be May 24, 2018.

DCN 3-year Implementation Phase Funded by Sloan!

posted Apr 16, 2018, 6:31 AM by Lisa Johnston

Launching the Data Curation Network

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grant will fund implementation of shared staffing model across 7 academic libraries and the Dryad Digital Repository

MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL, MN (04/06/2018) – The University of Minnesota Libraries will lead a three-year, multi-institutional effort to launch the Data Curation Network. The implementation — backed by a $526,438 grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation — builds on research to better support researchers faced with a growing number of requirements to openly and ethically share their research data.

The result of many months of research and planning, the project brings together the following eight partners: University of Minnesota Libraries, Sheridan Libraries at Johns Hopkins University, University of Michigan Library, Duke University Libraries, University Library at University of Illinois at Urbana­-Champaign, Cornell University Library, Penn State University Libraries, and the Dryad Digital Repository.

Currently, staff at each of these institutions provide their own data curation services. But because data curation requires a specialized skill set — spanning a wide variety of data types and discipline-specific data formats — institutions cannot reasonably expect to hire an expert in each area.

The intent of the Data Curation Network is to serve as a cross-institutional staffing model that seamlessly connects a network of expert data curators to local datasets and to supplement local curation expertise. Data curators bring the disciplinary knowledge and software expertise necessary for reviewing and curating data deposits to ensure that the data are reusable. The project aims to increase local capacity, strengthen collaboration between libraries and disciplinary projects, and ensure that researchers and institutions ethically and appropriately share data.

“Functionally, the Data Curation Network will serve as the ‘human layer’ in a local data repository stack that provides expert services, incentives for collaboration, normalized curation practices, and professional development training for an emerging data curator community,” said Lisa R. Johnston, Principal Investigator for the Data Curation Network and Director of the Data Repository for the University of Minnesota (DRUM).

Data curation is a relatively new service at universities as funders increasingly require that the raw data from sponsored research be preserved and shared. In addition, many publishers now either require or encourage that data sets accompanying articles be made available through a publicly accessible repository. Finally, many researchers wish to make their data available regardless of funder requirements both to enhance their impact and also to propel the concept of open science.

“The Sheridan Libraries were amongst the first research libraries to offer data management services,” said Sayeed Choudhury, Associate Dean for Research Data Management at Johns Hopkins University’s Sheridan Libraries. “While we have developed relevant expertise, our experience has actually highlighted the need for a more coordinated, distributed approach that leverages the diverse knowledge and expertise of our colleagues at other institutions. We are thrilled to join the Data Curation Network for this reason.”

During the three-year implementation phase, members of the Data Curation Network will work to add new partners and build the network into a sustainable model.

“We’re confident that a collaborative approach to data curation will enable our services to be stronger and ultimately lead to better, more reusable, datasets being shared,” Johnston said. “And this will benefit researchers, their disciplines, and the end users of research data world-wide.”

Johnston will be joined by:

●      Mara Blake, Manager of Data Services, Johns Hopkins University

●      Jake Carlson,  Director of Research Data Services, University of Michigan Library

●      Joel Herndon, Head of Data and Visualization Services, Duke University

●      Elizabeth Hull, Operations Manager, Dryad Digital Repository

●      Heidi Imker, Director of the Research Data Service, University of Illinois at Urbana­-Champaign Library

●      Wendy Kozlowski, Data Curation Specialist, Cornell University Library

●      Tim McGeary, Associate University Librarian for Information Technology Services, Duke University

●      Robert Olendorf, the Research Data Librarian at Penn State University

●      Claire Stewart, Associate University Librarian for Research and Learning, University of Minnesota

This project builds on previous work that includes the July 2017 report: “Data Curation Network: A Cross-Institutional Staffing Model for Curating Research Data,” which is available on the project website,

For more information

Visit the Data Curation Network website at:

Follow on Twitter: #DataCurationNetwork


For Immediate Release

Contact: Lisa Johnston, Principal Investigator for the Data Curation Network,; Mark Engebretson, Director of Communications, University of Minnesota Libraries,, 612-625-9148.

DCN Presents at RDAP Summit in Chicago, IL

posted Mar 23, 2018, 8:46 AM by Cynthia Vitale   [ updated Mar 23, 2018, 9:05 AM ]

DCN members Wendy Kozlowski, Data Curation Specialist at Cornell University, and Jake Carlson, Research Data Services Manager at the University of Michigan, presented on the Data Curation Network planning phase and future work at the Research Data Access, and Preservation (RDAP) Summit in Chicago, IL on March 22, 2018. 

Check out the information packed slides below!

Presentation_DCN Implementation Slides RDAP 20180322.pptx

DCN Presents at RDA in Berlin, Germany

posted Mar 22, 2018, 6:00 AM by Lisa Johnston

The implementation phase of the DCN was presented at the international meeting of research data stakeholders at the 11th plenary of the Research Data Alliance (RDA) in Berlin Germany March 21-23, 2018.

See our beautiful poster!

DCN Hosts Data Curation Workshop

posted Jan 31, 2018, 8:01 AM by Cynthia Vitale   [ updated Mar 23, 2018, 8:49 AM ]

The IASSIST & Data Curation Network (DCN) hosted a Data Curation Workshop on December 11 & 12, 2017 at Washington University in St. Louis, USA. Support from IASSIST, Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Minnesota, Cornell University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign brought together approximately 45 professionals to learn how to richly curate research data from a number of domains.

Participants came from a wide variety of functional backgrounds, including catalogers, archivists, subject specialists, data management librarians, repository managers, and more. Attendees traveled to St. Louis, MO from as far away as the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA and Boise State University in Boise, Idaho. Additionally, there was a diverse makeup of institutions represented, including liberal art colleges, Research 1 institutions, and government agencies. Support for this workshop provided a few micro-scholarships to applicants who would otherwise not be able to attend.

This 1.5 day workshop focused heavily on the hands-on treatments required to richly curate research data. Attendees learned and then practiced a six step CURATE process of checking, understanding, requesting, augmenting, transforming, and evaluating datasets to be Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR). Curricula also included the value of data curation and an introduction to IASSIST and the Data Curation Network (DCN). Each attendee left the workshop with experience in curating real-world data, an elevator speech for talking about curation needs, and a plan for moving curation services forward or enhancing existing services locally. The workshop agenda and links to the slides are available through the workshop webpage.

Feedback from workshop attendees indicated overwhelming satisfaction with content.  While we focused heavily on the manual treatments required to richly curate data, many attendees wanted more exposure and experience with software and tools they could use to curate data. The hands-on portion of the workshop was extremely successful given the use of real-world datasets from each of our institutions. Using actual submissions highlighted the complexities of curating data for which an institution may not immediately have the expertise.

The instructors for this workshop came from organizations are all members of the Data Curation Network. The DCN project was launched with funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation in 2016 and seeks to develop a shared staffing  model across nine institutions and organizations for data curation. By sharing our data curation expertise across a ‘network of expertise’ we aim to enable our academic libraries to collectively, and more effectively, curate a wider variety of data types (e.g., discipline, file format, etc.) that expands beyond what any single institution might offer alone. Training and community-building, through workshops such as this, is a natural component of the DCN vision.

Additional data curation workshops are being planned for the near future. For those interested in future workshops, we encourage you to watch the Data Curation Network website for updates. We are grateful to IASSIST for its support, without which this workshop would not have been possible.

DCN Curation Checklist and FAIRness Scorecard

posted Jan 25, 2018, 7:42 AM by Lisa Johnston   [ updated Jan 25, 2018, 7:45 AM ]

At our Data Curation Training workshop held in December we presented the CURATE steps, minimum levels of action that all DCN curators will take when reviewing a dataset. Attached is the downloadable PDF. This is still a work in progress, but we'd welcome your feedback. 

Checklist of DCN CURATE

New DCN Partners: Duke, Johns Hopkins, and Dryad

posted Nov 22, 2017, 7:51 AM by Lisa Johnston   [ updated Apr 5, 2018, 10:59 AM ]

After releasing our model for implementing the Data Curation Network this summer, the DCN team has been busy planning our next phase that will pilot and launch a cross-institutional staffing model for curating research data. We very excited that three additional institutions will join our cohort for this next step. Project team members include:
  • Joel Herndon, Head of Data and Visualization Services at Duke University Libraries
  • Tim McGeary, Associate University Librarian for Information Technology Services at Duke University Libraries
  • Mara Blake, Data Services Manager at Johns Hopkins University Library
  • Elizabeth Hull, Operations Manager at Dryad Digital Repository
These institutions join our planning phase team members from Cornell University, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Michigan, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Washington University in St. Louis, and led by the University of Minnesota. We look forward to launching our next phase of the Data Curation Network in 2018!

DCN Training Event Sponsored by IASSIST

posted Sep 5, 2017, 8:49 AM by Lisa Johnston

Supporting researchers with data curation is an important role that information specialists aspire to fill as the workforce transforms to assume greater digital stewardship responsibilities. 

To address this need, the Data Curation Network partners are holding a data curation training workshop this December hosted by the Social Sciences Librarians at Washington University in St. Louis and generously sponsored by IASSIST ( This workshop will build upon existing efforts to train library staff and establish a network of expertise for data curation at institutions across the United States, thus promoting and fostering a network of excellence for data.

See details about the training at

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