Doctoral candidate Karen Baker successfully defended her dissertation, "Data Work Configurations in the Field-Based Natural Sciences: Mesoscale Infrastructures, Project Collectives, and Data Gateways," on April 10.
Her committee included Professor Carole Palmer (professor in the Information School at the University of Washington), Joel E. Cutcher-Gershenfeld (professor in the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University), Matthew S. Mayernik (project scientist and research data services specialist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research), and Professor Michael Twidale.
Abstract: This multi-case, longitudinal ethnographic study investigates data work configurations of research projects in the field-based natural sciences. Project collective data work involves managing data in addition to facilitating data archiving. Through qualitative analysis, the concepts of data work arenas, information environments, and pre-archive data work are incorporated into a Data Work System model that foregrounds mesoscale infrastructures central to the movement of data from its origin in the field to its destination in an archive. Within the system model, data intermediaries play a key role as infrastructure is grown to support the dynamics associated with research data use. As an outcome of the analysis, three kinds of mesoscale data collectives are characterized as Local Gateway, Archive, and Developing. Three case studies illustrate the diversity of data work configurations, characterize mesoscale infrastructures as future-making prototypes, and demonstrate the relevance of Local Collectives as Data Gateways in planning information architecture. The cases contribute to the development of conceptual resources critical to maintaining the vibrancy and vigor of scientific research and the data work associated with data production in addition to data production.