New paper explains how data reuse helps novice researchers join academic communities of practice

 

Written by Adam Kriesberg, Rebecca D. Frank, Ixchel M. Faniel and Elizabeth Yakel, "The Role of Data Reuse in the Apprenticeship Process" describes how data reuse provides a pathway to internalizing disciplinary norms and methods of inquiry for novice quantitative social scientists, archaeologists and zoologists on their way to becoming members of their respective disciplinary communities. The paper will be published in the forthcoming ASIS&T 2013 Annual Meeting Proceedings. A preprint [pdf] is currently available online.

Key findings from "The Role of Data Reuse in the Apprenticeship Process" include:

  • Data reuse provides a unique opportunity for advisors to mentor students through the research process by both guiding the student’s research project and walking them through the research of others
  • Beyond learning how to select and analyze data, reuse was a pathway to various aspects of disciplinary culture, including the formation of ethics, norms for evidence, and interdisciplinary approaches to research.
  • In addition to traditional interactions with advisors, students observed data reuse in the literature and critiqued data producer's documentation to learn what constitutes acceptable vs. unacceptable research practices within their discipline.
  • Repository tools and services matter:  Well-written documentation, data citations, and links to works were used by students to see whether data production and analysis aligned with disciplinary norms and could be reused to answer new research questions.
Abstract
The availability of research data through digital repositories has made data reuse a possibility in a growing number of fields. This paper reports on the results of interviews with 27 zoologists, 43 quantitative social scientists and 22 archaeologists. It examines how data reuse contributes to the apprenticeship process and aids students in becoming full members of scholarly disciplines. Specifically, it investigates how data reuse contributes to the processes by which novice researchers join academic communities of practice. We demonstrate how projects involving data reuse provide a unique opportunity for advisors to mentor novices through the process of creating knowledge. In these situations, senior researchers model general reuse practices and impart skills for their students to use in the future when selecting, evaluating, and analyzing data they did not collect. For novices, data reuse constitutes a form of legitimate peripheral participation, a way for them to enter the community of practice by analyzing data that has been previously collected and reflecting on others' methodologies. Our study findings indicate that reuse occurs across each target community studied.  They also suggest how repositories can help foster a reuse culture by providing access to data and building trust in research communities.

This work is related to an earlier research project reported in a 2012 paper written by Ixchel M. Faniel, Adam Kriesberg and Elizabeth Yakel, "Data Reuse and Sensemaking among Novice Social Scientists." The 2012 report explains how novice social science researchers make sense of others data. The findings also indicate that novices are heavily influenced by more experienced social science researchers when it comes to discovering, evaluating, and justifying their reuse of other’s data.  Published in the ASIS&T 2012 Annual Meeting Proceedings, it is also available as a preprint [pdf] online.

Key findings from "Data Reuse and Sensemaking among Novice Social Scientists" include:

  • Novice social scientists sought to understand how data were transformed from qualitative to quantitative, captured new concepts not yet established in the literature, and could be matched and merged across multiple datasets.
  • They also sought to understand the data producer's rationale for methodological and measurement choices through a careful articulation of the data producer’s research processes.
  • Novices also relied on key advisors and the broader disciplinary community to manage complex reuse decisions and processes.
Abstract
We know little about the data reuse practices of novice data users. Yet large scale data reuse over the long term depends in part on uptake from early career researchers. This paper examines 22 novice social science researchers and how they make sense of social science data. Novices are particularly interested in understanding how data: 1) are transformed from qualitative to quantitative data, 2) capture concepts not well-established in the literature, and 3) can be matched and merged across multiple datasets. We discuss how novice data users make sense of data in these three circumstances. We find that novices seek to understand the data producer's rationale for methodological procedures and measurement choices, which is broadly similar to researchers in other scientific communities. However we also find that they not only reflect on whether they can trust the data producers' decisions, but also seek guidance from members of their disciplinary community. Specifically, novice social science researchers are heavily influenced by more experienced social science researchers when it comes to discovering, evaluating, and justifying their reuse of other's data.

For more information:

Ixchel M. Faniel, Ph.D.
Post-Doctoral Researcher
OCLC Research
connawal@oclc.org
+1-614-764-4370

Melissa Renspie
Senior Communications Officer
OCLC Research
renspiem@oclc.org
+1-614-761-5231

 

Quick links:

"The Role of Data Reuse in the Apprenticeship Process"

  • Download preprint (pdf: 131KB/9 pp.) [link]

"Data Reuse and Sensemaking among Novice Social Scientists"

  • Download preprint (.pdf: 51KB/11 pp.) [link]

ASIS&T 2013 Annual Meeting [link]

ASIS&T 2012 Annual Meeting [link]

Ixchel Faniel, Ph.D. [link]

Adam Kriesberg  [link]

Elizabeth Yakel [link]

Rebecca D. Frank [link]

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