Research Data Specialist

Santa Monica, CA
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Salary: 82100-144800
Created: January 30, 2023


The Research Data Specialist is responsible for assessing, acquiring, and managing collections of data at RAND.  Duties include interfacing with data providers, curating the data and creating an inventory of data along with associated metadata and documentation.  The Research Data Specialist is expected to work closely with all RAND stakeholders, including research staff, RPG management, project programmers and IS technical staff, as well as external data providers.


The Research Data Specialist manages the process of data collection and will be expected to:

  • Work with program and division leadership, project PIs and staff to understand current and future data needs and identify data sources to address project needs.
  • Evaluate new resources for possible purchase or digital capture, such as Twitter feeds, etc.
  • Be familiar with requirements from funding agencies and interface with data providers to maintain current MOU and data management plans to assure on-going data feeds.
  • Be knowledgeable of issues such as copyright, intellectual property, licensing of data, and reuse.  
  • Work with RAND Information Security (IS) to maintain a secure and accessible environment for data holdings across a variety of operating system environments at RAND including dedicated Linux servers, Hadoop, personal workstations, and cloud-based environments.
  • Be knowledgeable about security protocols, including secure file transfer protocols (SFTP), encryption methods, human subjects’ protection.
  • Be familiar with and document processes to access data at virtual centers such as ICPSR, Census Research Data Centers, CMS’s VRDC and IDR, DOD’s ADVANA and Vantage, etc.

Inventory and MetaData

  • Develop in-house processes to curate data feeds and catalog data in the Informatica data catalog using normalized metadata and standardized taxonomy terms.
  • Work closely with SMEs to develop detailed descriptive, structural, and administrative metadata for each data holding to be entered into the Data Catalog.
  • Develop in-house processes to curate data feeds and catalog data in the Informatica data catalog using normalized metadata and standardized taxonomy terms
  • Acquire and maintain detailed documentation and develop a mechanism to capture and record knowledge gained from SME’s and augment documentation with lessons learned from project use of the data
  • Participate in outreach and research support, especially regarding data collection issues.
  • Advise researchers on available data sources. Refer questions to the appropriate SMEs.


  • Bachelor’s Degree in data science or closely related quantitative or scientific field, such as Library/Information Science required. 
  • Master’s degree preferred.


  • At least 2 years of relevant professional experience required.

Basic Qualifications

  • Two or more years of foundational research data experience, implementing management principles, procedures, and best practices, with a particular focus on the research data lifecycle.
  • Experience with the development and application of metadata schema and local taxonomies
  • Familiarity with one or more applications for working with data (e.g., SAS, Python, R, SQL based tools or others).
  • Ability to communicate with a variety of partners, including technical experts and those with limited technical knowledge. 
  • Excellent interpersonal skills. Ability to thrive in a collaborative environment, make decisions, problem-solve as well as take initiative on independent projects.
  • Demonstrated commitment to transparency, rigor, and reproducibility in research
  • Attention to detail and very strong documentation and workflow management skills. 


Santa Monica (preferable), Washington D.C., Pittsburgh

Salary Range

Level II: $82,100 - $122,100

Level III: $95,100 - $144,800

RAND considers a variety of factors when formulating an offer, including but not limited to, the specific role and associated responsibilities; a candidate’s work experience, education/training, skills, expertise; and internal equity. Successful candidates will be offered employment in a specific title, as determined by the candidate's education and experience. The salary range includes base pay plus RAND’s sabbatic pay (which provides additional compensation above base pay when vacation is taken). In addition, RAND provides strong benefits including health insurance coverage, life and disability insurance, savings plan, paid time-off and more.


Equal Opportunity Employer: race/color/religion/sex/sexual orientation/gender identity/national origin/disability/vet

Last updated: Wednesday, February 1, 2023 21:32 UTC