Data Curator in the Middle: Curating Data for a Diverse Community of Stakeholders


The Prevention and Early Intervention Research Initiative is an archiving project to preserve the data and reports that were generated by twelve years of philanthropic and state investment into prevention and early intervention approaches in the children and youth sector in Ireland and Northern Ireland. The investment resulted in an extensive collection of evaluation data and reports, which collectively provide an evidence base for continued investment into PEI programmes that are shown to be effective. In 2016, the Prevention and Early Intervention Research Initiative (PEI-RI) was established to preserve the outputs from these evaluations in the national data archives, as a publicly available evidence base. The political and social significance of this collection is manifest in the range of stakeholder groups that the project is engaging with, including the community and not-for-profit organisations that operated the PEI programmes, the research teams from academic institutions that evaluated these programmes, and representatives from government departments that co-funded many of these programmes with Atlantic.

This paper tells the story of the PEI-RI archiving project, describing the steps we’ve taken since 2016 to preserve and promote the PEI data. During the course of the project we realised that it would not be enough to provide access to the data alone, as "[g]enerating and collating the evidence is of no use if it never reaches the commissioners and professionals who need it" (What Works Network, 2014, pp. 6). In the second phase of our project we are creating a range of resources for practitioner and decision maker audiences which provide a pathway to the data using the archival infrastructure.

The project provides a case study of curating a digital collection that is intended for multiple stakeholders with different expectations of the archived material. The PEI-RI data curator is located in the middle of a triad of data creators, data consumers and data archives, and is tasked with balancing the interests, expectations and limitations of each.

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