Data curation: An ecological perspective
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The library community has shown a great deal of interest regarding potential roles to support new forms of scholarship often called “eScience.”1 Scientific research has indeed become increasingly data-intensive, but the “eScience” label omits the humanities and social sciences, where scholars from a diverse range of disciplines are also exploring new modes of research and teaching using data. For example, social scientists are accessing data from fields such as the health sciences and environmental sciences and using tools such as geographical information systems to study the connection between health and personal relationships or environmental conditions. The National Endowment for Humanities (NEH) recent solicitation “Digging into Data” represents important acknowledgment of such developments within the humanities. Created in part to “promote the development and deployment of innovative research techniques in large-scale data analysis,” this program follows others in adopting a broad definition of data to include almost any information that can exist in digital form.2 While NEH administered this solicitation, three other agencies—the National Science Foundation (NSF), the UK Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), and the Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC)—provided funding to support Digging into Data. This diverse combination of funding agencies from three countries provides evidence of widespread, growing interest for data-driven scholarship within the humanities. Fundamentally, there is a shift from a document-centric view of scholarship to a data-centric view of scholarship, which has promoted recent developments of cyber-infrastructure.