To read this content please select one of the options below:

Context from the data reuser’s point of view

Ixchel M. Faniel (OCLC Research, Dublin, Ohio, USA)
Rebecca D. Frank (School of Information, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA)
Elizabeth Yakel (School of Information, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 29 July 2019

Issue publication date: 19 September 2019




Taking the researchers’ perspective, the purpose of this paper is to examine the types of context information needed to preserve data’s meaning in ways that support data reuse.


This paper is based on a qualitative study of 105 researchers from three disciplinary communities: quantitative social science, archaeology and zoology. The study focused on researchers’ most recent data reuse experience, particularly what they needed when deciding whether to reuse data.


Findings show that researchers mentioned 12 types of context information across three broad categories: data production information (data collection, specimen and artifact, data producer, data analysis, missing data, and research objectives); repository information (provenance, reputation and history, curation and digitization); and data reuse information (prior reuse, advice on reuse and terms of use).


This paper extends digital curation conversations to include the preservation of context as well as content to facilitate data reuse. When compared to prior research, findings show that there is some generalizability with respect to the types of context needed across different disciplines and data sharing and reuse environments. It also introduces several new context types. Relying on the perspective of researchers offers a more nuanced view that shows the importance of the different context types for each discipline and the ways disciplinary members thought about them. Both data producers and curators can benefit from knowing what to capture and manage during data collection and deposit into a repository.



The “Dissemination Information Packages for Information Reuse” (DIPIR) Project was made possible in part by a National Leadership Grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, LG-06-10-0140-10, with additional support from OCLC and University of Michigan. The authors thank members of the DIPIR team, including University of Michigan students, research fellows, institutional partners and individual collaborators.


Faniel, I.M., Frank, R.D. and Yakel, E. (2019), "Context from the data reuser’s point of view", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 75 No. 6, pp. 1274-1297.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

Related articles