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ERIC Number: EJ1005014
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013
Pages: 5
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 16
ISSN: ISSN-0163-9269
The Role of Big Data in the Social Sciences
Ovadia, Steven
Behavioral & Social Sciences Librarian, v32 n2 p130-134 2013
Big Data is an increasingly popular term across scholarly and popular literature but lacks a formal definition (Lohr 2012). This is beneficial in that it keeps the term flexible. For librarians, Big Data represents a few important ideas. One idea is the idea of balancing accessibility with privacy. Librarians tend to want information to be as open and available as possible, but they also understand the importance of maintaining the privacy of the individual. Big Data also has tremendous implications for the social sciences. So while it is not a given that Big Data will impact everyone's research, it is safe to say it is a concept many academics are interested in learning about. Where does that leave librarians? Little (2012) foresees a role where, as has occurred historically, librarians serve as guides into the world of Big Data, helping to connect interested patrons with tools, and data sets, as well as assisting with archiving. Librarians are also free to pursue their own work with Big Data sets, not just finding and archiving them, but also using these sets for their own research. Another potential role for librarians is helping to facilitate the sharing of Big Data sets. Because Big Data often intersects between business and scholarship, there have been some challenges in terms of the public availability of certain data sets. The privacy implications and concerns of Big Data also present another opportunity for librarians within the Big Data movement. Patron privacy is an important professional ethic for librarians, meaning most librarians not only understand why privacy is important, but can also articulately explain it, and demonstrate techniques to help protect the privacy of users. One could make the case the integrated library system is, depending upon the size of system, a large data set where the privacy of each individual must be protected. For librarians, Big Data represents an opportunity to connect users to data sets. Just as many librarians perform a readers' advisor role, connecting users to titles they might enjoy, it is not out of the realm of possibility to imagine a day where libraries have a data advisor who connects users to data sets that will aid patrons in their research. A final role for librarians to consider is as users and consumers of big data. These data sets that have captured the imagination of so many academics also have the ability to be tremendously useful to librarians, helping them to understand user behavior and choices. Librarians do not need to just preserve and find data sets. There is also an opportunity to use these data sets, too, learning anything and everything from patron interface preferences to preferred book formats.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Media Staff
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A