The Five Laws of Data Curation

ranganathanThis is an idea I’ve been tossing around in my head. How would one translate Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Science to data sets? I’ve been reading Ranganathan’s book, Five Laws of Library Science. He is a witty writer, and the book is quite informative. As I read through the chapters, I see parallels between Ranganathan’s ideas on books and my ideas on data set access and sharing. His five laws of library science are as follows:

  1. Books are for use
  2. Every reader his or her book
  3. Every book its reader
  4. Save the time of the reader
  5. The library is a growing organism

This is a preliminary list, and I am not quite satisfied with my fifth law yet, but here are my five laws of data curation:

  1. Data are for use (data have value and that value increases with use)
  2. Every researcher his or her data set (data are not just for the select few)
  3. Every data set its researcher (a researcher should be found for every data set)
  4. Save the time of the researcher (metadata and ease of locating are important)
  5. Data curation is a growing organism (I’m not happy with this one yet. Not sure if it should be “research is a growing…” or something else entirely. It doesn’t have to exactly parallel Ranganathan’s fifth law, but it would be nice if it did.)
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