What is a Data Librarian?: A Content Analysis of Job Advertisements for Data Librarians in the United States Academic Libraries Page: 4
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expectations, but she chose to analyze job ads since they were the most public expressions of
those expectations that were readily available for analysis.
Online sources of job ads were preferred since it is in this venue that many employers
advertise vacant positions. Job advertisements were gathered from ALA JobLIST, Indeed,
Glassdoor, and the International Association for Social Science Information Services &
Technology(IASSIST) job site. A coding scheme was created to organize the different
components present in the job advertisements. A total of 50 random job advertisements for
data librarians were gathered through NCapture and uploaded into NVivo software for
coding. NCapture is a web browser extension, developed by QSR, to capture online material
for import into NVivo. NVivo is a qualitative data analysis software application produced by
QSR International for performing qualitative analysis on text-based and multimedia
information. As the researchers collected the data, the data was organized into different nodes
in the NVivo software and then analyzed.
Assumptions and Limitations
An assumption of this study is that the content analysis of job ads is a valid representation of
the workforce demands of library directors. Content analysis is sometimes criticized as only
interpreting the frequency of selected words and phrases, however it a technique which
content can be examined in a systematic way. The researchers acknowledge that some ads are
likely to be more accurate in their specification than others. No study could hope to identify
all available jobs at any point in time as jobs are advertised in a wide range of sources and
some are filled without public advertisement.
For this research, we are interested in understanding what is a data librarian through review
of recent job advertisements in United States academic libraries. The researchers gathered job
titles that have a variation of the words "Data Librarian" in them. In order to be included in
our preliminary sample, the library must be an academic library located in the United States
and should have the minimum qualification to include an ALA-Accredited Masters degree in
Library and Information Science. The position must clearly be a professional position rather
than a para-professional position. Part-time positions and appointments were excluded from
If we are to move towards an endeavor in identifying core competencies for data librarians,
then we must understand what is meant by the term competence. Ewens (1977) states that the
term competence is used in the following ways in English and American dictionaries:
adequate supply or sufficiency; a capacity to deal adequately with a subject; a quality or state
of being functionally adequate or of having sufficient knowledge, judgment, skill or strength.
The defining feature of competencies is that they are linked to positions, roles, or
responsibilities (Gale & Pole, 1975). A competency is the skills, knowledge, and attitudes
one should possess in order to perform adequately in a particular job. There are related
concepts found in the literature such as job, function, task, subtask, and role. A job
description is a task statement that defines the work tasks to be done by someone in
a particular position (Stewart & Brown, 2014). Not all employers make distinctions between
different types of competencies when listing them in their job postings. For this particular
research we focus on required skills, jobs tasks(responsibilities), qualifications, and preferred
skills. We sought to use content analysis as the method for this preliminary study to gauge the
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Khan, Hammad & Du, Yunfei. What is a Data Librarian?: A Content Analysis of Job Advertisements for Data Librarians in the United States Academic Libraries, paper, July 31, 2018; (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1225772/m1/4/: accessed March 18, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT College of Information.