Practice Article

How are we Measuring Up? Evaluating Research Data Services in Academic Libraries

  • Heather L. Coates orcid logo (Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI))
  • Jake Carlson orcid logo (University of Michigan Ann Arbor MI)
  • Ryan Clement (Middlebury College Middlebury VT)
  • Margaret Henderson orcid logo (Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond VA)
  • Lisa R Johnston (University of Minnesota Twin Cities Minneapolis MN)
  • Yasmeen Shorish (James Madison University Harrisonburg VA)


INTRODUCTION In the years since the emergence of federal funding agency data management and sharing requirements (, research data services (RDS) have expanded to dozens of academic libraries in the United States. As these services have matured, service providers have begun to assess them. Given a lack of practical guidance in the literature, we seek to begin the discussion with several case studies and an exploration of four approaches suitable to assessing these emerging services. DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAM This article examines five case studies that vary by staffing, drivers, and institutional context in order to begin a practice-oriented conversation about how to evaluate and assess research data services in academic libraries. The case studies highlight some commonly discussed challenges, including insufficient training and resources, competing demands for evaluation efforts, and the tension between evidence that can be easily gathered and that which addresses our most important questions. We explore reflective practice, formative evaluation, developmental evaluation, and evidence-based library and information practice for ideas to advance practice. NEXT STEPS Data specialists engaged in providing research data services need strategies and tools with which to make decisions about their services. These range from identifying stakeholder needs to refining existing services to determining when to extend and discontinue declining services. While the landscape of research data services is broad and diverse, there are common needs that we can address as a community. To that end, we have created a community-owned space to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and existing resources.

Keywords: research data services, library assessment, program evaluation, value of libraries

How to Cite:

Coates, H. L., Carlson, J., Clement, R., Henderson, M., Johnston, L. R. & Shorish, Y., (2018) “How are we Measuring Up? Evaluating Research Data Services in Academic Libraries”, Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication 6(1), eP2226. doi:

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Published on
06 Aug 2018
Peer Reviewed