Already a member?

Sign In

Chuck Humphrey

Head, Data Library and Academic Director of the Alberta Research Data Centre
University of Alberta
How did you become involved in the world of data?: 

As a research assistant in graduate school, I worked on the production and analysis of some large social surveys.  Doing this kind of work, I became very conscious of the stories of the respondents being captured in the data.  From these experiences, I developed a strong respect for the information that individuals had shared with our research teams and a sense of responsibility for the long-term stewardship of this information. 

My first professional position was as a statistical consultant in an academic computing centre.  This job introduced me to a wide range of research data from the biological, life and physical sciences.  The more I encountered all types of research data, the more I became attached to data.  In 1980, the manager of the unit in which I worked sent me to IASSIST.  He asked me to attend this conference and then to write a proposal to start a local data library, which I did.  I feel very fortunate to have had a personal strong interest in research data turn into a fulfilling and exciting career.

What do you value most about your membership in IASSIST?: 

IASSIST is my professional home.  This is an organization where I do not have to explain what it is that I do for a living.  IASSIST members already know.  I have attended twenty-six IASSIST conferences, the first one in 1980 and the most recent one in 2011.  Over those years, I have met many wonderful people in IASSIST and have developed lifelong friendships.  In addition, IASSIST has been my career classroom.  I am constantly learning from IASSIST members who openly and generously share stimulating new ideas, practices and developments about data and metadata.

What was your favorite IASSIST conference?: 

I have enjoyed every IASSIST conference that I've attended.  And it goes without saying that each one has been the "best conference ever!"

What is your favorite data set?: 

I have always been fond of the Terman data.  This study was started in 1921-22 to investigate the long-term development of children and youth who had IQs above 135.  In total, thirteen waves were completed between 1921-22 and 1991-1992.  The study and subsequent data collections outlived the original investigator.  Within this collection is a subsample of data from twins.  The debate over nature versus nurture has been fueled by this subsample.

What are some things you are working on currently?: 

I am currently the lead for a team at the University of Alberta supporting a centre in the Canadian International Polar Year Data Assembly Centre Network.  We have established a preservation backbone between our Centre and Scholars Portal of the Ontario Council of University Libraries, which is a distributed digital preservation service. 

Based on the experiences with the IPY project, I am working with a committee drafting a proposal to build a collaborative national data management infrastructure.  This committee is part of a Canadian Association of Research Libraries initiative.

I am a member of the Research Data Strategy Working Group in Canada that is hosting a Data Summit in September 2011.  This event will bring together senior administrators and researchers responsible for major data collections to develop a roadmap for national data management.

I sit as Canada's representative on the OECD Global Science Forum on Data and Infrastructure for the Social Sciences.

I am on the Board of CASRAI, a standards body for administrative research information, and am Chair of the DDI Alliance Expert Committee.

When not working with data I…: 

like walking in all kinds of weather, which is easy in Edmonton.  If you don't like the weather at the moment, wait 10 minutes and it'll change.  I like spotting birds.  While we don't have a dog at the moment, I do like dogs and walking dogs.  I enjoy our grandkids, but live farther than walking distance from them.  I enjoy spy or crime novels and recently discovered the works of Leif Davidsen from Denmark.  I just finished the English translation of The Woman from Bratislava.

  • IASSIST Quarterly

    Publications Special issue: A pioneer data librarian
    Welcome to the special volume of the IASSIST Quarterly (IQ (37):1-4, 2013). This special issue started as exchange of ideas between Libbie Stephenson and Margaret Adams to collect


  • Resources


    A space for IASSIST members to share professional resources useful to them in their daily work. Also the IASSIST Jobs Repository for an archive of data-related position descriptions. more...

  • community

    • LinkedIn
    • Facebook
    • Twitter

    Find out what IASSISTers are doing in the field and explore other avenues of presentation, communication and discussion via social networking and related online social spaces. more...