"Understanding the Value of Curation: A Survey of Us Data Repository Curation Practices and Perceptions"

Data curators play an important role in assessing data quality and take actions that may ultimately lead to better, more valuable data products. This study explores the curation practices of data curators working within US-based data repositories. We performed a survey in January 2021 to benchmark the levels of curation performed by repositories and assess the perceived value and impact of curation on the data sharing process. Our analysis included 95 responses from 59 unique data repositories. Respondents primarily were professionals working within repositories and examined curation performed within a repository setting. A majority 72.6% of respondents reported that "data-level" curation was performed by their repository and around half reported their repository took steps to ensure interoperability and reproducibility of their repository’s datasets. Curation actions most frequently reported include checking for duplicate files, reviewing documentation, reviewing metadata, minting persistent identifiers, and checking for corrupt/broken files. The most "value-add" curation action across generalist, institutional, and disciplinary repository respondents was related to reviewing and enhancing documentation. Respondents reported high perceived impact of curation by their repositories on specific data sharing outcomes including usability, findability, understandability, and accessibility of deposited datasets; respondents associated with disciplinary repositories tended to perceive higher impact on most outcomes. Most survey participants strongly agreed that data curation by the repository adds value to the data sharing process and that it outweighs the effort and cost. We found some differences between institutional and disciplinary repositories, both in the reported frequency of specific curation actions as well as the perceived impact of data curation. Interestingly, we also found variation in the perceptions of those working within the same repository regarding the level and frequency of curation actions performed, which exemplifies the complexity of a repository curation work. Our results suggest data curation may be better understood in terms of specific curation actions and outcomes than broadly defined curation levels and that more research is needed to understand the resource implications of performing these activities. We share these results to provide a more nuanced view of curation, and how curation impacts the broader data lifecycle and data sharing behaviors.


| Artificial Intelligence |
| Research Data Curation and Management Works |
| Digital Curation and Digital Preservation Works |
| Open Access Works |
| Digital Scholarship |

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Author: Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

Charles W. Bailey, Jr.