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CLIR Receives Sloan Foundation Grant for Data Curation Fellows

Contact: Kathlin Smith

Washington, DC, April 1, 2013-The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation has awarded the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) $1.3 million to expand its efforts to develop leaders in the profession of data curation in higher education, and to develop new models of institutional support for data curation.

Funds will help support two cohorts of Data Curation Fellows for the Sciences and Social Sciences, modeled on the fellowships that CLIR first awarded in 2012. The two-year fellowships provide recent Ph.D.s with professional development, education, and training opportunities in data curation for the sciences and social sciences. Through these fellowships, CLIR seeks to raise awareness and build capacity for sound data management practice throughout the academy.

The grant will also support development of an improved model for training subject specialists in the domain of data curation, a preliminary assessment of the fellows’ work and early professional development experiences, and a formal assessment of the fellowship experience.

Digital data are changing the research enterprise, from the ways that research questions are framed to the kinds of evidence supporting findings, and the methods of collecting, storing, sharing, and authenticating this evidence. These shifts require us to reconsider how to equip the professionals who will produce and safeguard the records that will support intellectual inquiry and discovery into the future. Meeting the technical, structural, and interpersonal demands of managing digital research data is a shared responsibility of researchers, information professionals, academic institutions, and publishers. No established professional tradition or education and training program is presently equipped to meet all of these demands.

“There is a growing need in every discipline for well-trained professionals with one foot in research and one foot in data curation,” says Josh Greenberg, program director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. “The fellowship program that CLIR and DLF have developed not only addresses that need, it reconceptualizes the vital role university libraries can play in research in the twenty-first century. The Foundation is proud to support their pioneering efforts.”

“Data-perhaps the most complex of challenges facing higher education today-requires a coherent, programmatic response that can develop and sustain best practices for the entire life cycle of data,” said CLIR President Charles Henry. “This grant allows us to work with universities and libraries to create a cohort of new professionals that will help guide us in managing this unprecedented phenomenon strategically. We are deeply grateful for the generosity and trust of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.”

Henry, along with DLF Program Director Rachel Frick and Association of Research Libraries Executive Director Elliott Shore, will serve as the project’s principal investigators. Shore is also lead instructor for the Postdoctoral Fellowship program and a CLIR presidential fellow.

“The addition of scientists and social scientists has produced a radically interdisciplinary program which provides the fellows with a unique opportunity to re-envision the future of higher education,” said Shore.

The Fellowships in Data Curation for the Sciences and Social Sciences are complemented by a parallel CLIR initiative, Fellowships in Data Curation for Medieval Studies, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Both types of fellowships are integrated into CLIR’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program for Academic Libraries, which was launched in 2004.

The Council on Library and Information Resources is an independent, nonprofit organization that forges strategies to enhance research, teaching, and learning environments in collaboration with libraries, cultural institutions, and communities of higher learning. CLIR promotes forward-looking collaborative solutions that transcend disciplinary, institutional, professional, and geographic boundaries in support of the public good.

The Digital Library Federation is a diverse community of practitioners who advance research, teaching and learning through the application of digital library research, technology, and services. DLF serves as a resource and catalyst for collaboration among digital library developers, project managers, and all who are invested in digital library issues.

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation is a philanthropic, not-for-profit grantmaking institution that supports original research and education in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and economic performance. Funds for this project were provided through the Foundation’s Digital Information Technology program, which leverages developments in information technology to increase the effectiveness of scholarly research and public engagement with knowledge.

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