Better data management, one nudge at a time

Daria Orlowska, Colleen Fallaw, Yali Feng, Livia Garza, Ashley Hetrick, Heidi Imker, Hoa Luong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


How do you help people improve their data management skills? For our team at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, we decided the answer was "one nudge at a time". A study conducted by Wiley and Mischo (2016) found that Illinois researchers are aware of data services available but under-utilize them. Many researchers do not consider data management as a concern distinct from researching and producing scholarly work products. In 2017, the RDS piloted the Data Nudge -- a monthly, opt-in email service to "nudge" Illinois researchers toward good data management practices, and towards utilizing data services on campus. The aim of the Data Nudge was to address the gap between knowing about a service and using it by highlighting best practices and campus resources. The topics covered in the Data Nudge center around data. Some topics are applicable to everyone, such as data back-up, documentation, and file naming conventions. Other topics are specific to Illinois, like storage options, events, and conferences. After four years, the Data Nudge has accumulated over 400 subscribers through word-of-mouth, marketing channels on campus and inclusion in subject liaisons' instructional workshops. It receives stable open rates averaging at 52% (compared to 19.44% average industry rate for Higher Education*) and many compliments from subscribers. We expect the Data Nudge to continue supplementing workshops and training as an effective means of communication to reach researchers on our campus. In the spirit of re-use, we are in the process of archiving the Data Nudge topics in a reusable format, readily adaptable by other institutions.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-16
Number of pages16
JournalIASSIST Quarterly
Issue number2
StatePublished - Sep 26 2021


  • Data management
  • Data libraries
  • Adult education workshops
  • Server farms (Computer network management)
  • Marketing channels
  • Nudge theory
  • Illinois
  • University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
  • community engagement
  • Data
  • data management
  • Nudge
  • research data
  • research data service
  • service promotion
  • subject librarians


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