Getting the word out at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

When you work in a field that’s constantly changing, how do you keep up? Kristin Briney is one of the best people to ask. She has presented at RDAP and literally wrote the book on data management for researchers. She also knows firsthand that making an impact takes energy and patience. Her blog, Data Ab Initio, is an excellent resource for data experts and researchers alike.

Data expert: Kristin Briney (@KristinBriney)

Position and organization: Data Services Librarian at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Your job in ten words or less:

Data management evangelist and research support networker.

What made you want to work with research data?

I used to be a chemist until I decided that my favorite part of research was dealing with my data. Ironically, my data was also one of the most frustrating parts of research. So I got into data management due to this and the fact that I don’t want other researchers to repeat my data mistakes!

What are some highlights of your work? (Projects, successes, small victories)

There are lots of highlights. Seeing grad students’ faces when I tell them a data horror story then teach them the data management skill that will prevent them from living this story themselves. Talking to researchers about their data. Writing about a practical data management skill and seeing my writing adopted and used by other people. Publishing a book on data management.

What has been your biggest challenge (and how are you overcoming it)?

It’s hard to get the word out. Most researchers intrinsically know that they have issues with their data but don’t know that they can get help/where they can get help. Countering this is a slow process of building the support network.

A second problem is infrastructure. It’s hard to recommend places for researchers to deposit data (to comply with funder mandates) when there isn’t always a logical repository for the field.

What is the strangest or funniest thing to happen in your position?

Being the first data services librarian on my campus, there’s always an element of fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants. It’s both liberating and exhausting.

What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from your job?

Never stop learning. I love working in this field because it’s still developing, but it means that I read a lot to stay on top of things!

Care to share a few resources or vendors?

Retraction Watch! http://retractionwatch.com/ It’s a great source of horror stories (so useful for teaching) and has a pulse on the current issues with research & publishing.

Do you have a data management story to tell? Submit it here! Whether you’re one member of a huge team or the only data person in your organization, we want to share your experiences with the RDAP community.