My Intro to Data Management: Data Preservation

Cuba 2020

Our data is important for various reasons. Beyond holding potential insights and patterns, data is important because it contains sensitive information about people, people who have trusted us with their privileged information. Data preservation starts with the researcher practicing good data hygiene but it ends with them giving this data to a service like ICPSR to ensure it is properly protected and preserved over time.

The term “privacy budget”, should be how we frame the issue of data preservation. In framing old data as inheritor valuable, in a way that causes you to think of data as currency, and not a means to an end, or marketing material.

The Data Preservers

Each industry, including k-12 education, and edtech need to have spaces model the ICPSR, as a data preservation service. The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research is an integral part of the infrastructure of social science research, ICPSR maintains and provides access to a vast archive of social science data for research and instruction.

ICPSR digital preservation site, ANDS, and the DANS report offer a deep dive into the various methods of data curation and preservation, as well as extending their expertise as to which repositories they recommend and why. I found the DANS report to be practical. The way in which the information is displayed and broken down into actionable terms speaks to the human need for “ease-of-use”. As we’ve discussed in class dozens of times, researchers typically don’t curate data properly not because they are lazy but because it doesn’t fit into their workflow. While I’ve seen this content a number of times throughout this semester the DANS report gives it a voice worth paying attention to.

Having visited the ICPSR site a number of times I wanted to find something specific to dig into. I thought that the summer program was interesting; in particular the emphasis on hands-on exercises and the sharing of experiences between archivist/ librarians. The information itself has clear value, but as someone who is more “hands-on” than theoretical I would love to hear how these techniques are being implemented, success stories and failures.

Closing Reflection: Why Self preserving is Tough

The thing that scares me the most isn’t my ability to protect my sensitive data. Most cloud storage is encrypted and as a seasons researcher I’ve been trained to handle data with a particular standard in mind. What I worry about is my metadata, how do I make sure that those who replicate my experiment also go through the same data anonymization practices when they begin to collect sensitive information? That’s where I think including links to guidelines is key, particularly guidelines that complement a researchers or analyst’s workflow, like the DANS report. I wonder if there would be value requiring those who request my data (metadata) to have gone through a data curation workshop?

Would you all go to a data curation workshop if it was free?


Levenstein, M., Lyle, J., ICPSR, & Arbor, A. (2016, September 12). Sharing sensitive social and behavioral science data. Retrieved December 3, 2016, from

ANDS. (2014). Data preservation. Retrieved December 3, 2016, from

the, the R. of. (2016). Digital preservation at ICPSR. Retrieved December 3, 2016, from

User, S. (2016). Contents. Retrieved December 3, 2016, from

Tjalsma, H Rombouts, J (2011)Selection of Research Data. Guidelines for appraising and selecting research data. A report by DANS and 3TU.Datacentrum, Chapter 3

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