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Article Type

Full-Length Paper

Publication Date

2022-03-04

DOI

10.7191/jeslib.2022.1226

Abstract

This study of data services librarians is part of a series of studies examining the current roles and perspectives on Research Data Management (RDM) services in higher education. Reviewing current best practices provides insights into the role-based responsibilities for RDM services that data services librarians perform, as well as ways to improve and create new services to meet the needs of their respective university communities.

Objectives: The objectives of this article are to provide the context of research data services through a review of past studies, explain how they informed this qualitative study, and provide the methods and results of the current study. This study provides an in-depth overview of the overall job responsibilities of data services librarians and as well as their perspectives on RDM through job analyses.

Methods: Job analysis interviews provide insight and context to the tasks employees do as described in their own words. Interviews with 10 data services librarians recruited from the top 10 public and top 10 private universities according to the 2020 Best National University Rankings in the US News and World Reports were asked 30 questions concerning their overall job tasks and perspectives on RDM. Five public and five private data services librarians were interviewed. The interviews were recorded and transcribed. The transcriptions were analyzed in NVivo using a grounded theory application of open, axial, and selective coding to generate categories and broad themes based on the responses using synonymous meanings.

Results: The results presented here provide the typical job tasks of data services librarians that include locating secondary data, reviewing data management plans (DMPs), conducting outreach, collaborating, and offering RDM training. Fewer data services librarians assisted with data curation or manage an institutional repository.

Discussion: The results indicate that there may be different types of data services librarians depending on the mix of responsibilities. Academic librarianship will benefit from further delineation of job titles using tasks while planning, advertising, hiring, and evaluating workers in this emerging area. There remain many other explorations needed to understand the challenges and opportunities for data services librarians related to RDM.

Conclusions: This article concludes with a proposed matrix of job tasks that indicates different types of data services librarians to inform further study. Future job descriptions, training, and education will all benefit from differentiating between the many associated research data services roles and with increased focus on research data greater specializations will emerge.

Keywords

research data services, data services librarian, data management plan, research data management

Data Availability

Deidentified data for this article can be found in the Tennessee Research and Creative Exchange (TRACE) institutional repository: Bishop, Bradley Wade. 2020. “Data from Data Services Librarians Study.” [Data Set] University of Tennessee, Knoxville Libraries. https://doi.org/10.7290/m29yhy5qen

Acknowledgments

The authors greatly appreciate the participants as well as the Spring 2020 Faculty Development Leave of the first author to allow for data collection.

Corresponding Author

Bradley Wade Bishop, School of Information Sciences, University of Tennessee, 1345 Circle Park Dr. Room 454, Communications Bldg., Knoxville, TN 37996, USA; wade.bishop@utk.edu; https://bradleywadebishop.github.io/website/index.html

Rights and Permissions

Copyright © 2022 Bishop et al. This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Appendix_1226_Bishop.pdf (674 kB)
Appendix 1: Interview Schedule

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