An epic journey in sharing: The story of a young researcher's journey to share her data and the information professionals who tried to help

  • Sebastian Karcher Syracuse University
  • Sophia Lafferty-Hess Duke University Libraries


Sharing data can be a journey with various characters, challenges along the way, and uncertain outcomes. These “epic journeys in sharing” teach information professionals about our patrons, our institutions, our community, and ourselves. In this paper, we tell a particularly dramatic data-sharing story, in effect a case study, in the form of a Greek Drama. It is the quest of – a young idealistic researcher collecting fascinating sensitive data and seeking to share it, encountering an institution doing its due diligence, helpful library folks, and an expert repository. Our story has moments of joy, such as when our researcher is solely motivated to share because she wants others to be able to reuse her unique data; dramatic plot twists involving IRBs; and a poignant ending. It explores major tropes and themes about how researchers’ motivations, data types, and data sensitivity can impact sharing; the importance of having clarity concerning institutional policies and procedures; and the role of professional communities and relationships. Just like the chorus in greek drama provides commentary on the action, a a chorus of data elders in our drama points out larger lessons that the case study has for research data management and data sharing. Where actors in the greek chorus were wearing masks, our chorus carries different items, symbolizing their message, on every entry. 

[i] The narrative structure of this paper was inspired by the IASSIST 2018 conference theme of “Once Upon a Data Point: Sustaining Our Data Storytellers.”

May 9, 2019