For Want of a Nail: Three Tropes in Data Curation

Kalpana Shankar
Kalpana Shankar
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  • Kalpana Shankar is a Lecturer in the School of Information and Communication Studies at University College Dublin, Ireland. She was previously on the faculty of Indiana University-Bloomington, and completed post-doctoral work at the National Institutes of Health (USA) and the Center for Embedded Networked Sensing, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). She received her Ph.D. in Library and Information Studies from UCLA. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation (USA), the Irish Research Council, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
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Abstract

This article explores the role of three key tropes in the data curation profession. Using interviews with digital preservation experts, researchers, public sector statisticians, and social science data archivists as well as popular and professional literature and media, this article discusses how tropes and narratives are used to create shared meaning among data curation stakeholders. The article explores how tropes of abundance / overload, openness, and trust are created and used and concludes with reflections on how such stories articulate professional values and concerns. The article advocates for further attention to the use of narratives and stories as the data curation profession develops.

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