Inna Kouper, an assistant scientist at the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, has been awarded a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services to study the curation of data produced during interdisciplinary and highly collaborative research that integrates resources and expertise across disciplines and institutional settings.
Kouper, who also is affiliated with the Ostrom Workshop’s Data Management and Information Governance program at IU, studies the challenges of data curation and management and designs systems that enable sharing and preservation of all forms of evidence used in making decisions and knowledge claims. Until recently, she mostly focused on supporting disciplinary communities or developing technical capabilities for data management, but her work identified another trend.
“Data work does not stay within the boundaries of one discipline,” Kouper said. “Researchers collaborate across disciplines and institutional settings, and increasingly we see such collaborations as a better way to address societal problems. At the same time, interdisciplinary collaborations have their challenges—differences in the understanding of what it means to collect and analyze data make integration of methods and expertise difficult. This project addresses the needs of several groups, including data producers who need to overcome their differences and create productive environments; librarians and data managers who seek to provide useful services; data consumers who need data they can trust; and the public, which needs research data to be both broadly available and empowering.”
The project addresses the needs of the various groups by studying interdisciplinary data practices, expanding existing library services, and connecting researchers with curation and cyberinfrastructure experts. It includes nine interdisciplinary teams from the University of Colorado, Virginia Polytechnic Institute, and IU, and the group will study how those teams work with data while developing additions and improvements to their processes. The study also will include collaborative evaluation, which will engage a broader community of experts to evaluate the study’s outcomes and recommendations.
“We hope that the insights we gain from our study will improve interdisciplinary collaborations and data exchanges and help libraries and IT units on campus offer more support for interdisciplinary research,” Kouper said. “We want to understand the needs and practices of interdisciplinary researchers so that data managers and librarians can design and improve services to meet those needs. We want to go beyond sharing our findings through traditional academic publishing at the end of the project. We will share our findings early on with data professionals and researchers and seek their input.”
The two-year grant is worth more than $375,000.
“Research is an ever-evolving effort, and gaining perspective on how researchers collaborate in the 21st century is a critical step toward improving results,” said Kay Connelly, associate dean for research at Luddy. “Inna’s work can reshape the way researchers approach collaborations, and it’s another great example of how Luddy faculty are making an impact far beyond the IU campus.”