Social Sciences Data Curation Fellow

University Park
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Created: December 16, 2013


The 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.  This position is offered as part of the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) program of Fellowships in Data Curation for the Sciences and Social Sciences (

  • 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.

The Pennsylvania State University serves as the land grant institution for Pennsylvania, incorporating a strong outreach mission into its instructional and research activities. Librarians at Penn State are actively engaged with faculty and students across all of our 24 campuses, providing research and instructional services that are enhanced by a program of cutting-edge development in scholarly publishing, data curation and digital content management.   Ranked among the top ten research libraries in North America according to the Association of Research Libraries Expenditure Index, Penn State University Libraries support the University’s 97,000 students and 6,000 faculty system-wide. Located at University Park and 22 other campus locations throughout the commonwealth, the Libraries aim to advance the intellectual discovery, information literacy, and lifelong learning of all faculty, students and patrons.

The University Park campus is home to approximately 44,000 students and is set in the State College metropolitan area, a growing university town located in central Pennsylvania. Set in a picturesque rural environment, the State College area offers a vibrant community with outstanding recreation facilities, a low crime rate, and excellent public schools. The campus is within a half-day drive to Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City, or Pittsburgh. The University Park Airport is served by three major carriers with flights to Washington, Philadelphia, and Detroit. For more information please visit and

Salary, Appointment and Rank:  This is a two-year fixed term appointment at the rank of assistant librarian.  Salary commensurate with experience. Excellent fringe benefits include liberal vacation, comprehensive insurance, state or TIAA/CREF retirement options, and educational privileges.

To Apply:
This position is offered as part of the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) program of Fellowships in Data Curation for the Sciences and Social Sciences.  Applicants must apply by December 27, 2013 following the instructions found online at   Following an initial screening by CLIR, applications will be forwarded to Penn State University Libraries which will make the final hiring decisions.  Employment will require successful completion of background check(s) in accordance with University policies.

Last updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 23:44 UTC