Knowing what to do and how to do it: High transparency and careful curation of data and metadata


  • Karsten Rasmussen



Welcome to the third issue of volume 44 of the IASSIST Quarterly (IQ 44(3) 2020). 

Transparency is a prerequisite for valid analysis of data. Full disclosure of all aspects of the creation process is necessary for the evaluation of a data collection. The Roper Center has collaborated, assembled and developed standards, and performed scoring of datasets to facilitate the evaluation of data.  It is easy to say that all aspects of data collection are important, but with more knowledge about the process of data curation PhD students become aware of how it is important for their research. The CESSDA Metadata Office is a tool supporting the realization of high transparency and successful research data management. This is an extremely short overview of the three submissions found in this issue, below a little more information, and finally enjoy the articles.


The first paper in this issue is first for a reason. 'Standards and Scoring to Increase Transparency for Archived Public Opinion Data' by Kathleen J. Weldon won first prize among the papers submitted for the IASSIST 2019 conference. You do remember IASSIST conferences, I hope. Annual conferences have been regular as clockwork, but due to COVID-19 the 2020 conference in Göteborg, Sweden, is postponed to April 7–9, 2021.  See more at


Kathleen J. Weldon is the Director of Data Operations and Communications at the Roper Center for Public Opinion Research, Cornell University – the world’s largest archive of public opinion survey data. New standards for archiving data at Roper Center are described in the paper in the context of their historical development. What is now termed ‘transparency’ was an early commitment by George Gallup to 'full disclosure of methods, sponsorship, and data'. After some years, standards were adopted by professional organizations. At the Roper Center, submissions have long been evaluated in order to preserve ‘the best of its time’ polling. However, with new technologies new survey methods were used without a consensus of best practices. This led to the development of standards by the National Council on Public Polls (NCPP) and the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR). The new standards are the basis for Roper Center developing a system for scoring transparency. It is the author's hope and expectation that the future will bring an increase in the preservation of well-documented polling datasets.



Many PhD students produce data collections or compile and use archival data for their thesis. At Purdue University, a School of Information Studies course was developed for PhD students covering topics such as identifying an archival data set, creating metadata and documentation, selecting an appropriate long-term storage location, and planning for the deposit process. The paper 'Capturing their “first” dataset: A graduate course to walk PhD students through the curation of their dissertation data' describes the background, the development, and the content and structure of the course, and concludes with assessments and the insights gained for the library. Naturally some practical issues evolved through the pilot course; specifically, the broad spectrum of disciplines in PhD projects demands much customization of the course curricula. The authors Megan Sapp Nelson and Ningning Nicole Kong are respectively professor and associate professor of Library Science at Purdue University Libraries. The course was established by request from PhD advisors, who found that datasets were valuable outputs not being captured in the thesis deposit process. This course also meets the demand for data management skills in the job market.



GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences in Germany and the UK Data Archive are leading the CESSDA Metadata Office project. The Metadata Office covers several areas such as metadata models, schemas, profiles, controlled vocabularies, and thesauri. The paper 'The matter of meta in research data management: Introducing the CESSDA Metadata Office Project' reports on the project. CESSDA stands for Consortium of European Social Science Data Archives, and with the many European languages it follows that language issues are the focus. The project builds upon DDI (Data Documentation Initiative) and also includes collaboration with the DDI Alliance on translations of DDI vocabularies through the use of ISO language tags in metadata and controlled vocabularies; this is exemplified in some screen shots. The paper also presents the information covered in the CESSDA Metadata Model and some examples of the characteristics of elements of the model. The authors are all participants in the project; André Förster and Kerrin Borschewski as consecutive heads of the project at GESIS, Sharon Bolton as head of the project at UK Data Service, and Taina Jääskeläinen at the Finnish Social Science Data Archive.




Submissions of papers for the IASSIST Quarterly are always very welcome. We welcome input from IASSIST conferences or other conferences and workshops, from local presentations or papers especially written for the IQ. When you are preparing such a presentation, give a thought to turning your one-time presentation into a lasting contribution. Doing that after the event also gives you the opportunity of improving your work after feedback. We encourage you to login or create an author login to (our Open Journal System application). We permit authors 'deep links' into the IQ as well as deposition of the paper in your local repository. Chairing a conference session with the purpose of aggregating and integrating papers for a special issue IQ is also much appreciated as the information reaches many more people than the limited number of session participants and will be readily available on the IASSIST Quarterly website at  Authors are very welcome to take a look at the instructions and layout:

Authors can also contact me directly via e-mail: Should you be interested in compiling a special issue for the IQ as guest editor(s) I will also be delighted to hear from you.

Karsten Boye Rasmussen - September 2020




How to Cite

Rasmussen, K. (2020). Knowing what to do and how to do it: High transparency and careful curation of data and metadata. IASSIST Quarterly, 44(3).



Editor's Notes