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Meeting Data Workforce Needs: Indicators Based on Recent Data Curation Placements

Full APA Reference

Palmer, C. L., Thompson, C. A., Baker, K. S., & Senseney, M. (2014, March). Meeting Data Workforce Needs: Indicators Based on Recent Data Curation Placements. Paper presented at iConference 2014, Berlin, Germany.

Publication Abstract

The field of library and information science has been steadily advancing data curation education and practice in response to workforce demands. This paper reports on a formative evaluation of the Specialization in Data Curation program at the University of Illinois, aimed at understanding job preparedness and work experiences of graduates and areas for improvement in data curation education. Survey results are complemented by analysis of placement patterns of graduates to date. Employment levels and career satisfaction were found to be high, with internships, practicum, and assistantships identified as key factors in employability. Duties in current positions emphasize liaison and consulting, user instruction, data management, metadata, and policy development. Recommended areas for further emphasis in the curriculum included computer programming and domain knowledge. About half of all placements were outside of academic libraries, with the second largest group in the corporate sector. Results overall suggest that a general LIS education is far from adequate for current data curation positions. As an evaluation of the earliest formal LIS program in the U.S. focused on the curation of research data, the study provides important evidence of actual data curation responsibilities in the current workforce and perceived educational gaps that can guide future planning, design, and improvement of programs to meet the escalating demand for data curation in the information professions.