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

Publication date: 26 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.



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

Download as .RIS



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

Please note you might not have access to this content

You may be able to access this content by login via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
If you would like to contact us about accessing this content, click the button and fill out the form.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.