Researchers’ Attitudes towards Data Discovery: Implications for a UCLA Data Registry

58 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2012

Date Written: June 4, 2012


Research output is becoming increasingly digital. In the sciences research output now takes the form of large and small datasets, three-dimensional images and sensor readings. In the social sciences research output includes GIS data, quantitative survey and demographic data and also qualitative ethnographic data and interview transcripts. And in the humanities, scholars now use tools such as three-dimensional maps, social networks, and text analysis that allow them to ask traditional humanist questions in completely new ways. To harness the potential of the data and digital research output being produced in all fields, information professionals and scholars need to make research data discoverable and accessible to other scholars and students. This thesis focuses on understanding the various definitions that scholars use to characterize their data and research output, as well as the methods and tools they use and need to disseminate, manage, and make their work discoverable.

The UCLA Data Registry is a tool designed to serve the greater UCLA research community by collecting and making available surrogate records of research datasets. To figure out how to build this system in accordance with the needs of the community, a total of 20 researchers from disparate disciplines were interviewed about their data and metadata practices. The results indicate that researchers’ attitudes and behaviors towards making their work discoverable depend on their concept and definition of data. Given that the UCLA Library will build the UCLA Data Registry, it is important to consider the other possible tools that researchers could use in conjunction with the registry to enhance the discoverability of their data. The Data Registry will be built utilizing a basic metadata schema rather than very specific descriptive fields. The interviews also demonstrated that the culture of publishing and venues for data dissemination are shifting away from the traditional journal article publication, especially in emerging areas such as the digital humanities. As information professionals, we must continue to develop new tools and methods for managing and maintaining access to these news types of scholarship. The UCLA Data Registry is one step towards providing the support and venues for making visible and accessible the diversity of research being conducted by UCLA researchers.

Keywords: data registry, data management, research data

Suggested Citation

Mandell, Rachel A., Researchers’ Attitudes towards Data Discovery: Implications for a UCLA Data Registry (June 4, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Rachel A. Mandell (Contact Author)

UCLA Information Studies ( email )

Los Angeles, CA 90095-1520
United States

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