Data Curation

What is data curation?

Data curation is a set of activities that enables data discovery and retrieval, maintains data quality, adds value, and provides for re-use over time through activities including authentication, archiving, metadata creation, digital preservation, and transformation.

The person who performs this work is a data curator, and these professionals collaborate with researchers to share data ethically and in ways that are Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable by aligning with the FAIR Principles.

How are datasets curated in the Illinois Data Bank?

Research Data Service staff monitor and curate all datasets submitted to the Illinois Data Bank.

The depth of curation depends on the size of the dataset deposited, how well it is documented, and the tools available to us to open the files. To better curate the diverse data deposited into the Illinois Data Bank, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a sustaining member of the Data Curation Network, a network of professional data curators with a wide variety of specialized skills and knowledge.

Illinois Data Bank curation workflow aims to follow the DCN’s established CURATED Steps:

  • Check files/code and read documentation (risk mitigation, file inventory, appraisal/selection)
  • Understand the data (or try to), if not… (run files/code, QA/QC issues, readmes)
  • Request missing information or changes (tracking provenance of any changes and why)
  • Augment metadata for findability (DOIs, metadata standards, discoverability) ​
  • Transform file formats for reuse (through suggested actions for data preservation, conversion tools, data visualization)
  • Evaluate for FAIRness (transparent usage licenses, responsibility standards, metrics for tracking use)
  • Document all curation activities throughout the process

* Note: these reviews are not considered peer review and do not judge the core scientific analysis, methodologies, or conclusions behind the data.

If you deposit a dataset into the Illinois Data Bank, what can you expect?

  • An automated email confirming for your actions, including requesting a pre-publication review, and publishing a dataset
  • A personal email from Research Data Service staff relating to suggested changes to metadata and/or data file(s)
  • All suggestions from curators are optional, and depositors have the right to accept or reject those suggestions

Who can help with data curation?

Research Data Service staff are happy answer any questions related to data curation. Send your question(s) to, and we will get back to you in timely manner.