Collections > UNC Scholarly Publications > Article > Data World Does Not Lack Standards

When I first read the Call for Papers for this special issue, I was dismayed to find this line within it: “However, the world of data lacks the ingrained standards and practices the library and academic community have built up over the years.” It is true that there are many standards and practices for data depending on the discipline in which the research is done. Because data themselves are more varied in their format than publications such as books and journal articles, standards for data are necessarily more varied and complex than those describing print publications. Whereas social science survey data must discuss sampling techniques and any weighting procedures and provide questionnaires, astronomy data has quite different concerns: frequency bands, equipment specifications and calibration, and spectra measurements. Consequently the standards involved may feel less “ingrained” to those who are not deeply involved in the research of different disciplines. And, too, librarians may be less familiar with standards that apply in parts of the research lifecycle in which they have tended to be less involved. Every library student knows MARC, but that is a standard used primarily in the dissemination stage of research, not in the data collection stage. Standards in data may also be more in flux than those for publications, particularly recently, given the rapid evolution of mandates for data sharing and their effect on disciplines that have no existing tradition of open access.