Understanding data search as a socio-technical practice

Kathleen M. Gregory*, Helena Cousijn, Paul Groth, Andrea Scharnhorst, Sally Wyatt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Open research data are heralded as having the potential to increase effectiveness, productivity and reproducibility in science, but little is known about the actual practices involved in data search. The socio-technical problem of locating data for reuse is often reduced to the technological dimension of designing data search systems. We combine a bibliometric study of the current academic discourse around data search with interviews with data seekers. In this article, we explore how adopting a contextual, socio-technical perspective can help to understand user practices and behaviour and ultimately help to improve the design of data discovery systems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-475
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Information Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • Data retrieval
  • data reuse
  • data search
  • information seeking
  • research data

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