Better data management, one nudge at a time




Data Nudge, data management, research data service, subject librarians, community engagement, service promotion, research data


How do you help people improve their data management skills? For our team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, we decided the answer was "one nudge at a time”.

A study conducted by Wiley and Mischo (2016) found that Illinois researchers are aware of data services available but under-utilize them. Many researchers do not consider data management as a concern distinct from researching and producing scholarly work products. In 2017, the RDS piloted the Data Nudge – a monthly, opt-in email service to “nudge” Illinois researchers toward good data management practices, and towards utilizing data services on campus. The aim of the Data Nudge was to address the gap between knowing about a service and using it by highlighting best practices and campus resources.

The topics covered in the Data Nudge center around data. Some topics are applicable to everyone, such as data back-up, documentation, and file naming conventions. Other topics are specific to Illinois, like storage options, events, and conferences.

After four years, the Data Nudge has accumulated over 400 subscribers through word-of-mouth, marketing channels on campus and inclusion in subject liaisons' instructional workshops. It receives stable open rates averaging at 52% (compared to 19.44% average industry rate for Higher Education*) and many compliments from subscribers. We expect the Data Nudge to continue supplementing workshops and training as an effective means of communication to reach researchers on our campus. In the spirit of re-use, we are in the process of archiving the Data Nudge topics in a reusable format, readily adaptable by other institutions. 

Data Nudge link:

Author Biographies

Daria Orlowska, Western Michigan University

Data Librarian at Western Michigan University

Colleen Fallaw, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Research Programmer for the Research Data Service

Yali Feng, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Behavioral Sciences Research and Data Services Librarian. Assistant Professor at University Library

Livia Garza, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Former pre-professional Graduate Assistant at Research Data Service

Ashley Hetrick, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Former Assistant Director of Research Data Engagement Education at Research Data Service

Heidi Imker, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Director of Research Data Service, Associate Professor at University Library

Hoa Luong, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Associate Director of Research Data Service, University Library.




How to Cite

Orlowska, D., Fallaw, C., Feng, Y., Garza, L., Hetrick, A., Imker, H., & Luong, H. (2021). Better data management, one nudge at a time . IASSIST Quarterly, 45(2).