Love Your Data – Day 5: Rescuing Unloved Data

Content is adapted from the Love Your Data Website.

“Data that is mobile, visible and well-loved stands a better chance of surviving” ~ Kurt Bollacker
Things to consider:
Legacy, heritage and at-risk data share one common theme: barrier to access. Data that has been recorded by hand (field notes, lab notebooks, handwritten transcripts, measurements or ledgers) or on outdated technology or using proprietary formats are at risk. 
Securing legacy data takes time, resources and expertise but is well worth the effort as old data can enable new research and the loss of data could impede future research. So how to approach reviving legacy or at-risk data?
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
  1. Recover and inventory the data
    • Format, type
    • Accompanying material–codebooks, notes, marginalia
  2. Organize the data
    • Depending on discipline/subject: date, variable, content/subject
  3. Assess the data
    • Are there any gaps or missing information
    • Triage–consider nature of data along with ease of recovery
  4. Describe the data
    • Assign metadata at the collection/file level
  5. Digitize/normalize the data:
    • Digitization is not preservation. Choose a file format that will retain its functionality (and accessibility!) over time: “Which file formats should I use?” 
  6. Review
    • Confirm there are no gaps or indicate where gaps exist
  7. Deposit and disseminate
    • Make the data open and available for re-use
Read more about rescuing unloved data or join the conversation on twitter and facebook using #LYD17 or #loveyourdata
Have questions? Contact Jill Krefft, Institutional Repository Coordinator at
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