What is SciData?

SciData Program Overview

Scientific data is growing in its scale and complexity across all scientific disciplines, which is leading to an increased need for professionals who specialize in scientific data curation research and education.  Additionally, researchers are being asked to create and adhere to data management plans, which would be facilitated by trained scientific data curators.  Yet professionals specifically trained in the management and curation of scientific data are in scarce supply.  In response to this need, the University of Tennessee's School of Information Sciences have developed a two-year master's program, SciData, that will provide the opportunity for eight students with strong science backgrounds or interests and will work with these students closely to build specialties in digital data curation with an emphasis on scientific data publishing.

Funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the SciData program is uniquely positioned to meet the demand for digital science data curation professions through its close relationships with nearby science agencies such as the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Information International Associates (IIa), the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent), and the Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI).  Because SciData will be intricately connected to the School of Information Sciences, the School's participation in the NSF-funded DataONE project and the School's previous IMLS-funded project in science librarianship will provide students with additional opportunities to expand their experiences in scientific data curation.

Mentoring and practical work experience with science agencies, libraries, and publishers will be a strong focus of SciData.  The SciData curriculum will provide a focus in science data and information, plus SciData students will participate in an e-publishing summer course in England (summer 2013).  SciData will link the areas of domain, education, and practice to provide the knowledge and experience needed to build competent information professionals with a solid foundation in science data.

The principal investigator of SciData will be Suzie Allard, with Carol Tenopir and Peiling Wang serving as co-principal investigators.  All have considerable experience with recruiting, education, and mentoring science information professionals, most recently in the ScienceLinks and the ScienceLinks2 programs.

The recruitment phase of this program began in August 2011, and the program will be complete in July 2014 (after the matriculation and graduation of the SciData students).