Beyond Metadata: Leveraging the "README" to Support Disciplinary Documentation Needs
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Despite widespread agreement about the importance of metadata to facilitate data sharing and reuse, academic institutions still grapple with questions about how to best support the broader documentation requirements of their researchers’ datasets. Libraries have traditionally been concerned with established metadata standards and the structured metadata in library catalogs and repository records. But as researchers’ practices evolve and library collections grow to incorporate more types of research outputs, the library’s view on metadata must evolve as well. In order to fully support the increasingly varied and discipline specific documentation methods employed by scholars in their research -- methods that are necessary to ensure their datasets can be found and used in the future -- libraries must first become familiar with these non-standard types of data documentation and consider how they can be leveraged to improve data sharing and reuse. This presentation was part of a panel that brought together librarians who have been working to support non-standard data documentation on their campuses, focusing specifically on an effort to study disciplinary metadata and documentation practices, in order to inform the development of discipline-specific README templates.