Bridging the Data Talent Gap: Positioning the iSchool as an Agent for Change
This paper examines the role, functions and value of the “iSchool” as an agent of change in the data informatics and data curation arena. A brief background to the iSchool movement is given followed by a brief review of the data decade, which highlights key data trends from the iSchool perspective: open data and open science, big data and disciplinary data diversity. The growing emphasis on the shortage of data talent is noted and a family of data science roles identified. The paper moves on to describe three primary functions of iSchools: education, research intelligence and professional practice, which form the foundations of a new Capability Ramp Model. The model is illustrated by mini-case studies from the School of Information Sciences, University of Pittsburgh: the immersive (laboratory-based) component of two new Research Data Management and Research Data Infrastructures graduate courses, a new practice partnership with the University Library System centred on RDM, and the mapping of disciplinary data practice using the Community Capability Model Profile Tool. The paper closes with a look to the future and, based on the assertion that data is mission-critical for iSchools, some steps are proposed for the next data decade: moving data education programs into the mainstream core curriculum, adopting a translational data science perspective and strengthening engagement with the Research Data Alliance.
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