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Digital Collections and Curation

CIRSS projects in this sector focus on how to build, represent, and make accessible research collections, with a particular focus on the challenges and opportunities associated with the curation and federation of digital collections for long-term, distributed use. The ongoing funded research projects are complemented by a study group dedicated to metadata standards and associated research problems.


Carole L. Palmer (

Professor, University of Washington Information School and Professor Emerita, iSchool at Illinois

Current People

Recent Publications

Wickes, E.  (2015, April).  Programming as an Information-centered activity.  Talk presented at the 2015 Python Education Summit, Montreal, Canada.  doi: 10.6084/m9.figshare.1372436 Read more

Thompson, C. A., Mayernik, M. S., Palmer, C. L., Allard, S., & Tenopir, C. (2015, March). LIS Programs and Data Centers: Integrating Expertise. Paper presented at the 2015 iConference, Newport Beach, CA. Read more

Baker, K. & Duerr, R. E. (2015, March). Authentic Learning in the Research Data Curation Classroom. Poster presented at the 2015 iConference, Newport Beach, CA. Read more

Jett, J., Maden, C., Fallaw, C., Senseney, M., & Downie, J. S. (2015, March). Conceptualizing worksets for non-consumptive research. Poster presented at the 2015 iConference, Newport Beach, CA. Read more

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Current Projects

The Whole Tale: Merging Science and Cyberinfrastructure Pathways

Whole Tale is a five-year NSF CC*DNI DIBBS-funded project that will enable researchers to examine, transform, and then seamlessly republish research data that was used in an article.  These "living articles" will enable new discovery by allowing researchers to construct representations and syntheses of data.

Bertram Ludaescher, PI (Illinois); Kyle Chard, co-PI (U of Chicago); Victoria Stodden, co-PI (Illinois); Matthew Turk, co-PI (Illinois); Niall Gaffney, co-PI (Texas Advanced Computing Center)

DataONE (Data Observation Network for Earth)

Data Observation Network for Earth (DataONE) is the foundation of new innovative environmental science through a distributed framework and sustainable cyberinfrastructure that meets the needs of science and society for open, persistent, robust, and secure access to well-described and easily discovered Earth observational data.  Supported by the U.S. National Science Foundation (Phase 1 Grant #ACI-0830944, Phase 2 Grant #ACI-1430508) as one of the initial DataNets, DataONE will ensure the preservation, access, use and reuse of multi-scale, multi-discipline, and multi-national science data via three primary cyberinfrastucture elements and a broad education and outreach program.

PI: William Michener (University of New Mexico); co-PIs: Matthew Jones (University of California, Santa Barbara); David Vieglais (University of Kansas); Suzanne Allard (University of Tennessee Knoxville); sub-award PI: Bertram Ludäscher (iSchool at Illinois)

Designing Synthesized Knowledge of Past Environments (SKOPE)

This project will design and prototype SKOPE  (Synthesized Knowledge of Past Environments), an online research tool that will provide state-of-the-art information about the environment experienced by humans at a given a place and time, past or present.  In response to a specific query, SKOPE will extract the latest data from diverse online databases. Using explicit and repeatable procedures, it will process the data to yield a cutting-edge synthesis of environmental information specifically tailored to the user’s request. Initially the tool will be developed for the Southwest US over the last 2000 years, but it will be designed to be readily extended to other places and times.

PI: Keith Kintigh (Arizona State); PI: Timothy Kohler (Washington State); PI: Bertram Ludäscher (iSchool at Illinois)

Exploring the Benefits for Users of Linked Open Data for Digitized Special Collections

The project will investigate four translational research questions and demonstrate findings concretely by transforming legacy string-based item-level metadata and then experimenting with user services for three modestly sized digitized special collections hosted by the University of Illinois: the Motley Collection of Costume and Theatre Design, the Portraits of Actors, 1720 – 1920 Collection, and the Kolb-Proust Archive for Research.

PI: Timothy Cole (CIRSS & University Library); co-PI: Myung-Ja Han (University Library); co-PI Caroline Szylowicz (University Library)

Kurator: A Provenance-enabled Workflow Platform and Toolkit to Curate Biodiversity Data

Data curation is a critical step in scientific data digitization, sharing, integration and use. The considerable resources allocated to digitization of natural science collections in the U.S. and globally require a focus on both digitization efficiencies and the utility of the generated data. One way to address both issues is to employ workflow software to automate and streamline data curation processes. We are developing Kurator, a suite of biodiversity data quality tools aimed at collection management specialists with little or no programming experience, database administrators and researchers with some scripting language experience, and developers.

PI: Bertram Ludäscher; co-PI: James Macklin (Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada); PI: James Hanken (Director, Museum of Comparative Zoology. Harvard)

Workset Creation for Scholarly Analysis: Prototyping Project (WCSA)

The Workset Creation for Scholarly Analysis: Prototyping Project (WCSA) project aims to aid researchers working with HathiTrust mateirals.  WCSA project team members will expand and add to metadata entries, and work to develop more formal working definitions of project terminology.  The goal of the project is to create tools and resources for researchers to increase the discovery and usage of the HathiTrust collection.

PI: J. Stephen Downie; Co-PI: Timothy W. Cole, Beth Plale (Indiana University/HathiTrust)

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Recent News

July 26, 2011

DLF/DCC participates in DPLA Beta Sprint

CIRSS is collaborating with CLIR/DLF on a Digital Public Library Data Sprint contribution. The project is being funded by the Mellon Foundation. See our video and press release.

June 23, 2011

DCEP-H Project holds Advisory Board meeting

The CIRSS DCEP-H Project will be holding a meeting of its Advisory Board in Palo Alto on June 23rd following the Humanities Data Curation Summit.  The Data Curation Education Program for the Humanities (DCEP-H) extends the GSLIS Data Curation Ed…

May 24, 2011

CIRSS hosts the 2011 Summer Institute on Data Curation at GSLIS

  The Center for Informatics Research in Science and Scholarship (CIRSS) will host the 2011 Summer Institute on Data Curation at GSLIS, from Monday, June 6, through Thursday, June 9. Twenty-six applicants were accepted to this year’s Su…

Past Events

April 29, 2016

Panel on Memory and Personal Archiving

This panel will be presented at the Personal Digital Archiving Conference in Ann Arbor on May 12.One of the primary motivations for personal archiving is the preservation of materials related to perso…

April 1, 2016

Illinois Databank (IDB) development preliminary report from the Illinois Research Data Service (RDS)

Set to launch in late May, the Illinois Data Bank (IDB) is a self-deposit public access institutional data repository designed to publicly host data produced by Illinois researchers. Members of the Re…

February 10, 2016

New tools from the HathiTrust Research Center for digitized text analysis at scale: The HathiTrust+Bookworm tool and the Extracted Features dataset

As library digitization efforts produce large quantities of digitized textual content, they create the conditions of possibility for novel inferencing techniques at scale, raising tantalizing possibil…

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