Volume 60, Issue 1 p. 61-72
Long Papers

‘Routine Infrastructuring’: How Social Scientists Appropriate Resources to Deposit Qualitative Data to ICPSR and Implications for FAIR and CARE

Sarah Bratt

Corresponding Author

Sarah Bratt

University of Arizona, School of Information (iSchool), USA

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First published: 22 October 2023


This study develops a grounded theory of how social scientists facilitate qualitative data deposit and the impacts on making data FAIR and CARE. Drawing from 15 semi-structured interviews with U.S. academic social science faculty who deposited data to ICPSR, I take a resource-centric perspective to address the need for theorizing scientists' use of resources to bridge the gap between underspecified, heterogeneous data practices and repository requirements. The two primary contributions of the study are: First, the identification of three types of resources that social science faculty use to structure data deposit routines, namely: 1) bottom-up, 2) top-down, and 3) borrowed resources. Second, I import a theory from crisis informatics, ‘routine infrastructuring,’ to explain how social scientists deposit data to ICPSR. Results reveal that the resources social scientists use function as ostensive routines. I argue routine infrastructuring is not only a way to enact routines but also creates routines. Findings also show ‘in-house’ resources have a mix of beneficial and negative impacts for data FAIR- and CARE-ness. This study advances the small but growing body of literature that examines routine dynamics in research groups from a resource-centric perspective to explain qualitative data deposit to research data repositories.