Library-Faculty Team Helps Grad Students Pass Their Research Data Forward

A new course co-taught by Mann librarians and faculty of the Natural Resources department is teaching graduate students how to step with confidence into the brave new world of scientific data management.

The march of science in the information age is creating vast new pools of data that hold incredible promise for exploring and finding solutions to the problems of our times. This promise, however, can only be fully realized if data is organized and preserved in such a way that the wider scientific community can find and use it. Librarians have an important role to play in teaching effective strategies for good data management, and, because they stand at the very frontier of the expanding data universe, graduate students are one of their most promising audiences.

During the spring 2013 semester, a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) has enabled collaboration between Sarah Wright, data librarian at Mann Library, and Cliff Kraft, associate professor of natural resources to teach a six-session for-credit course in effective data management to graduate students.  Camille Andrews, Mann learning technologies and assessment librarian, is an additional member of the team on this initiative at Cornell. The IMLS grant is funding similar collaborations at Purdue University, the University of Minnesota and the University of Oregon. 

Cornell’s class centers on ecology. Over two dozen students from the natural resources and social sciences, ranging from first-year graduate students to researchers finishing their PhD’s, are participating.  The instructors split teaching duties; Wright introduces research techniques and best practices, and Kraft puts the tools into a research context. "We're helping students create a data management plan and describe their research, but on a broader level, we want them to understand why it's important," Wright said. "We want them to be able to describe their data life cycle and think about best practices at the outset, in order to avoid mistakes down the road."

For more information, please see the full Cornell Chronicle article.