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Data Services: Overview

Data Services at Colby

Data Services at the Colby Libraries:

  • we assist students and faculty with the creation, organization, management, and curation of research data in support of all aspects of the research, teaching, and learning workflows
  • help you create, locate, and use research data, and provide guidance using quantitative and qualitative data analysis software
  • support and provide guidance for the creation of data management plans 
  • work with you on the preservation and access of your data 

Use this guide to help you:

  • Contact the Data Services Librarian 
  • Get help creating new data sets
  • Find resources for existing data sets (all disciplines)
  • Create a Data Management Plan
  • Find resources and support for data analysis tools/software (coming soon)
  • Share your data - find repositories to upload your data and get support preparing your data for sharing
  • Explore best practices working with data: ethics and governance (coming soon)
  • Build and expand your data literacy (coming soon)
  • Use application programming interface's (API) to get data

What is Data Management?

Research Data Management (RDM) refers to the collection, documentation, storage, sharing, and preservation of research data from the beginning to the end of a research project and beyond.

RDM can be applied to all disciplines and all types of data, adhering to relevant legal and ethical issues.

RDM  helps with research organization and comprehensibility, making onboarding to projects easier and allowing for ease in communicating research results to colleagues and the public, and helps improve research workflows to make them more resilient, efficient, maintainable, and reproducible. 


Learn more here...

What is data?

What is data?

Definitions of data include:

  • Data (which is plural) comes from the Latin “things given”, datum is singular for data
  • Information or knowledge that is represented using numbers, letters, symbols, etc. 
  • Factual information (such as measurements or statistics) used as a basis for reasoning, discussion, or calculation
  • Information or objects that can be measured, collected, reported, analyzed, and used to create visualizations such as graphs, tables, or images
  • Qualitative or quantitative information used in an analysis


What is metadata?

  • describes and gives information about other data, making finding & working with particular instances of data easier
  • used to organize, group data and often has discipline or industry standards
  • is key for any data project or data system (database, analysis, etc.)

What is Data Literacy

Data literacy is a term used to describe an individual’s ability to read, understand, and utilize data in different ways. Becoming data literate doesn't require you to become an expert—as a data scientist or analyst might be considered—but rather, you have an understanding of basic concepts, such as:

  • What is data
  • Different types of data used in different disciplines and industries
  • How and where to find reliable data sources
  • Types of tools used in data collection, cleaning, and analysis
  • What is Data Management
  • What is metadata
  • Data ethics and governance
  • How to understand data visualizations
  • How to explore questions using data

Learn more here...


Data Repositories

What is a data repository? A research data repository is a virtual place to store and preserve research data.  Data repositories also make data sets from research available for use and further study.  A data repository can focus on general collections of data from various subjects, or it can be discipline-specific with data from select subjects or areas of research.  Like other types of collections, a data repository may limit the data in their collections to those from research done within their institution or organization (also known as institutional data repositories) or only may accept data collections that fall within their area of practice.

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What is a Data Managment Plan?

If you are applying for funded research or creating a comprehensive project plan that involves data, more often than not these applications and plans call for a Data Management Plan (DMP).

DMPs describe data that will be acquired or produced during research; how the data will be managed, described, and stored, what standards you will use, and how data will be handled and protected during and after the completion of the project. 

Most grants from federal and state agencies require DMP.

Get help creating or reviewing your DMP by contacting the Data Services Librarian.


Learn more here...

Application Programming Interface

APIs, short for application programming interface, are tools used to share content and data between software applications.  APIs are used in a variety of contexts, but some examples include embedding content from one website into another, dynamically posting content from one application to display in another application, or extracting data from a database in a more programmatic way than a regular user interface might allow, such as bulk collection for text mining. 

A growing list of scholarly database vendors, the federal government, and many online content platforms (Google, Facebook, Twitter etc.)  to name just a few offer APIs to allow users with programming skills to more powerfully extract data to serve a variety of research purposes.  With an API, users might create programmatic searches of a citation database, or extract statistical data. 


Learn more here...



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