CLIR Social Sciences Data Curation Fellow

Posted to IASSIST on: 2013-12-12

Employer: Penn State University Libraries

Employer URL:


he Pennsylvania State University Libraries seek a Social Sciences Data Curation Fellow to collaborate with librarians, technologists, and researchers, primarily in the social sciences, on building out a program of services for the lifecycle management of social science research data. The fellow’s work will dovetail with an investigation, launched in summer 2013 by the University’s Information Technology Services (ITS), into curation needs for restricted data. Penn State has experience handling restricted data, as evidenced by the Clinical Science and Translational Institute, which works with primary data that carry high-risk identity disclosure issues, yet fall under the NIH data sharing mandate. The Libraries also has a significant university records management program, and in spring 2014 it will house a new Census Research Data Center. Working with ITS, relevant liaison librarians, and research institutes in the social sciences, the fellow will contribute to the overall stewardship of social science research data at Penn State, including consideration of curation issues for public data sets arising from restricted data.

The fellow’s responsibilities will focus on three fundamental, interconnected areas: 1) investigation of current research data practices to assess curation needs; 2) collection planning, based on assessment, for local research data sets, exploring approaches to ensuring data quality and optimizing for access, use, and reuse of data; and 3) pilot project investigations of curation processes to inform operationalizing a data curation service. By concentrating on these three areas, the fellow will contribute to our understanding of the costs of implementing data curation services for the social sciences at Penn State. Also central to these efforts will be Penn State’s repository service, ScholarSphere, developed in 2012 as a partnership of the Libraries and ITS. As a tool for supporting researchers in data management planning, ScholarSphere is poised for further development as a data repository, especially for data that otherwise have no institutional, organizational, or domain-specific base: it offers state-of-the-art preservation technology, flexible access and permission levels, and robust file versioning capability. The fellow’s contributions will test and help expand ScholarSphere to meet the curation needs of research data, initially in the social sciences and potentially extending to data from other disciplines, depending on outcomes from the sets of activities described.

This is a two-year, fixed-term appointment at the rank of assistant librarian. The Data Curation Services postdoctoral fellow will be based in the Libraries and expected to work in collaboration with a range of departments, both within and beyond the Libraries.


  • In collaboration with staff from ITS, conduct data interviews with social scientists to assess current research lifecycle practices, document types of research data available, and evaluate needs surrounding long-term management of restricted data;
  • Research various trends and practices at universities for curation of restricted social science research data, with particular attention to the role of institutional repositories;
  • Lead one to two small pilot projects to support operationalizing a data curation service;
  • Participate in consultations, as needed, with social scientists on data management planning;
  • Contribute to design and development of resources, including research guides and workshops, on research data lifecycle practices for faculty, students, and staff;
  • Present on above efforts at national conferences and other relevant venues.

Required Qualifications

  • Ph.D. in the social sciences; examples include anthropology, economics, political science, psychology, or sociology; or in informatics;
  • Ability to organize and develop information resources for workshops and other types of sessions, including consultations;
  • Experience working with large data sets using common analytic tools and/or statistical software packages.
  • Familiarity with institutional repositories and data repositories (in terms of either retrieval of data/content, or deposit of data/content, or both);
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills, combined with a facility for working productively with a diverse range of faculty, students, and academic professional staff.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Experience collecting or managing sensitive data for research purposes;
  • Experience working on cross-disciplinary, distributed, collaborative projects.

Archived on: 2014-01-31