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CIRSS Seminar - Using scientific data produced by others: Trust practices shaping infrastructure, or infrastructure shaping trust practices?

Friday, December 4, 2015
4pm - 5pm

131 LIS

Event Details

Session leaders: Peter Darch
Description: Abstract:
Scientists in many domains increasingly need to use data produced by others in their own work. They may be using data produced by collaborators, or they may be reusing data produced by scientists for other purposes. Frequently, the potential user of these data will not have witnessed the production of these data; instead, they must make a judgment that the data is trustworthy.

The importance of building infrastructure for scientific data that incorporates the information necessary for scientists to assess data trustworthiness is well recognized. Typically, the relationship between trust practices and infrastructure is conceptualized as identifying the criteria that domain scientists use to assess trustworthiness, and then building infrastructure that provides information relevant to these criteria.

Drawing on a long-term case study of scientists who study microbial life in the seafloor, I invert this relationship. The trust practices of scientists in this domain are shaped by the infrastructural resources already available: if resources are not available to assess trustworthiness according to one set of criteria, then scientists will apply a different set of criteria for which resources are available. Developers of data infrastructure should consider not only how to support existing practices of trust, but also that the infrastructure they develop will shape, and alter, practices of trust going forward.

Peter Darch is an assistant professor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Prior to joining GSLIS in August 2015, Darch worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the UCLA Department of Information Studies, with which he continues to collaborate on studies of the building, running, and effects of information infrastructures that support scientific collaboration.

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