It’s that time of year when more and more students are asking about accessing datasets for their research through our local Research Data Centre. And a couple times now, I’ve found myself having to explain that one does not simply walk into an RDC…
It’s always interesting to gauge people’s responses when I tell them I’m (still) in school. Depending on their disposition (if not my own at the time), the responses can be tinged with either envy or sympathy. Emotional reactions aside, my school-boy days remain for at least another five or six months, so my days right now are often devoted to research and analysis on one subject or another.
Seeing as though it’s November and I need a real break from the deadlines that come along with this research and analysis, I decided to summarize for you some of the projects I’m working on in my classes right now:
- In my introductory cataloguing class, I’m learning to speak another language. Oh, MARC21, how I love your $a‘s and second indicators. I’m not lying. I’ve come to love cataloguing. I don’t plan on being a cataloguer, but it would definitely be interesting to get into database management and tech services – the organization of information its where it’s at in information science today.
- In my government documents class, I’ve begun research on the Data Liberation Initiative. I’m hoping to analyze DLI’s original aims and consider how close to (or how far off) the original trajectory we might be today. My understanding is that DLI was developed in part to not just improve data and micro-data dissemination in Canada but also to promote (micro-)data analysis inside and outside the academy. As evidence-based social analysis came to the forefront in the 1990s, there was a consensus that more had to be done to improve and increase data analysis skills in Canada and that DLI might help in the long-term as more and more students might graduate with a basic understanding of micro-data and data manipulation. Most of the scholarly literature on the subject seems to have come from Elizabeth Hamilton (UNB) and Chuck Humphrey (UAlberta), so I have my work cut out for me on this project. But on the other hand, it might be nice to raise another voice (ahem, mine) into the fray.
- In my systems class, I was going to analyze Evergreen initiatives (and especially the Conifer Project) for academic libraries, but I’ve backed down and will now just consider academic libraries (and the academic institution) as a soft system unto itself. In some ways I’m raising a white flag on this one, but ultimately I’ve accepted the fact that while I understand code and can hack out some rudimentary lines of script, I am no coding expert and likely never will be. However, I do know theory and I know it well, so I should be able to work my way around Peter Checkland‘s mountain of systems-thinking scholarship.
- In light of the first point, I may undertake a directed research course on FRBR and RDF. Although a “dream job” right now would likely deal with data librarianship and data manipulation, I’d also be very happy to get in on the ground floor in information organization; hopefully this theory-based reading course will fill in some of the gaps in my knowledge, if not produce something akin to publishable material.
Are you about to call me out for thinking too much about career opportunities? Do it – I don’t mind. I’m keeping my eye on the prize on this one.. See you in April.