November 30, 2015

New Research Paper: “Competencies and Responsibilities of Social Science Data Librarians: An Analysis of Job Descriptions” (Preprint)

The following article is scheduled for publication in the May, 2014 issue of College & Research Libraries (C&RL). It was accepted for publication last month.


“Competencies and Responsibilities of Social Science Data Librarians: An Analysis of Job Descriptions”
39 pages; PDF.


Jingfeng Xia
Indiana University

Minglu Wang
Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey


College & Research Libraries Web Site

From the Introduction:

Academic libraries have long had individuals responsible for social science data services, providing access to government and other types of data. Traditionally, these individuals included the social science subject librarian or the government document librarian.1 However, recently it has become more common for the social science data librarian position to be independent, probably as the result of emerging digital technologies and the internet since the 1990s.


The data librarian has experienced a change in job requirements from the early days of identity ambiguity, e.g., an “accidental” data librarian, to today’s determined practices, e.g., a unanimously expected involvement in data management plans. Yet, the change occurred over such a short time, that questions are still left and people keep wondering how to define data librarianship, including ways to echo the major big data advances in job statements, along with ways to reflect the perceptions and adaptations libraries have about scholarly communication.


Job postings in 2005 and afterwards were collected from the website of the International Association for Social Science Information Services & Technology (IASSIST), with a total of 167 entries. An analysis of the frequencies of term occurrence and co-occurrence was taken to evaluate the current condition of competencies and responsibilities required of social science data librarians. Research attentions were also paid to a chronological change and geospatial distribution of the requirements for job qualifications and responsibilities so as to identify possible trajectories of professional development in social science data management, service and analysis.

Direct to Full Text Article/Preprint (39 pages; PDF)

Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.

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