Academic Librarians and Research Data Services: Attitudes and Practices

Librariesacademic libraries


Becoming a partner in the research process and enabling access to the scholarship of e-science is a natural evolution of the traditional roles of academic libraries. Managing research data can be an important aspect of this expanded role, although many academic librarians may not feel they have the necessary preparation, skills, and capacity to effectively provide research data services. In addition, researchers need to understand the degree to which these services are becoming part of the core services offered by academic librarians in a variety of settings. Knowledge of the possibilities and confidence in their respective roles with research data are necessary for both the librarians who are called on to provide these services and the researchers who will take advantage of the services provided by librarians. Research data services (RDS) are services “that address the full data lifecycle, including the data management plan, digital curation (selection, preservation, maintenance, and archiving), and metadata creation and conversion” (Tenopir et al. 2013).

In the academic library, research data is being recognized as a new kind of cultural artifact that requires long-term stewardship, so librarians must extend their abilities to provide reference and instruction services and to curate and make discoverable data produced by researchers. This study examines how academic librarians in the United States and Canada perceive their capacity and readiness to offer a range of research data services and how these perceptions have changed since a 2011 survey of librarians in US and

Canadian academic research libraries (Tenopir et al. 2013). This study addresses the following research questions:

RQ1: Do academic librarians feel they have the knowledge, background, and skills to provide library-based RDS?
RQ2: How do academic librarians rate the importance of RDS in the library?
RQ3: What are the factors that contribute to or inhibit engagement of librarians in RDS?
RQ4: Are there changes in the opinions of academic librarians on these issues since the 2011 study?