Purpose – As libraries become more involved in curating research data, reference librarians will need to be trained in conducting data interviews with researchers to better understand their data and associated needs. This article seeks to identify and provide definitions for the basic terms and concepts of data curation for librarians to properly frame and carry out a data interview using the Data Curation Profiles (DCP) Toolkit. Design/methodology/approach – The DCP Toolkit is a semi-structured interview designed to assist librarians in identifying the data curation needs of researchers. The components of the DCP Toolkit were analyzed to determine the base level of knowledge needed for librarians to conduct effective data interviews. Specific concepts, definitions, and examples were sought through a review of articles, case studies, practitioner resources and from the experiences of the Purdue University Libraries.

Findings – Data curation concepts and terminology are not yet well-defined and often vary across, or even within fields of study. This research informed the development of a workshop to train librarians in using the DCP Toolkit. The definitions and concepts addressed in the workshop include: data, data set, data lifecycle, data curation, data sharing, and roles for reference librarians.

Practical implications – Conducting a data interview can be a daunting task given the complexity of data curation and the lack of shared definitions. Practical tools and training are needed to help librarians develop capacity in data curation.

Originality/value – This article provides practical information for public service librarians to help them conceptualize and conduct a data interview with researchers.


Terminology, Interviews, Librarianship, Training, Roles

Published in:

Reference Services Review, vol. 40, no.1

Date of this Version