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GMR Data Science

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The blog of NNLM Greater Midwest Region
Updated: 10 min 47 sec ago

UMN Now Accepting Applications for Data Management Training Session

Wed, 2018-05-30 16:50


Data Management for Librarians CE Course

Monday, August 6, 2018

Health science librarians from states represented by the Greater Midwest Region (GMR) are invited to participate in a data management for health sciences librarians CE course, hosted by the University of Minnesota Health Sciences Libraries in Minneapolis, MN.

The overall objective of this session is to introduce librarians to research data management and allow them to develop practical strategies for incorporating data into their existing roles.

Course Components

This 4-hour workshop will introduce participants to key elements of research data management in the health sciences, including best practices for documentation, metadata, backup, storage, and preservation. We will also explore advanced areas of research data management such as de-identification and intellectual property. The session will incorporate several activities to enable participants to apply best practices of data management when creating their own data management plans and critiquing existing data management plans (DMP). Beyond understanding the basics of research data management and applying those in the creation and assessment of DMPs, this session will also give participants an opportunity to consider the ways in which research data services can be incorporated into existing roles and responsibilities, including highlighting searching for research data for secondary analysis and integrating research data services into instruction and reference activities.

Data Management Skills Community of Practice (CoP)

Participants in the CE course may also participate in an online data management skills community of practice (CoP). The CoP will meet quarterly to take a deeper dive into a data management topic that could include federal funding compliance, data preservation & sharing, and open science. Topics are TBD and will be developed based on cohort needs.

CE Credits

Participants who complete the course will receive 4 MLA CE credits.

Instructor & CoP Facilitator:

Caitlin Bakker, MLIS: Caitlin Bakker is a health sciences librarian specializing in research support services, including data management, scholarly publishing, and citation tracking and analysis. She received her Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University in 2011 and is a Senior Member of the Academy of Health Information Professionals. Caitlin is interested in meta-research, and her projects have focused on publication models, systematic reviews, research ethics, and research impact.

Who can apply?

  • Applications are open to health science librarians in the Greater Midwest Region (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin)
  • Twelve librarians from the GMR will be awarded a stipend to have their travel costs to/from Minneapolis reimbursed up to $1000. Applications for the stipend must include a personal statement, cv and letter of support from their supervisor (see Application Instructions below).
  • Enrollment is limited to 35 participants

What does it cost?

  • There is no charge for the CE course
  • Twelve participants from the GMR will receive a reimbursement up to $1000 for travel costs.
  • Individuals who are not selected to receive the reimbursement but still wish to take the course are responsible for their own travel costs

How can I get there?

  • All stipend award attendees who elect to fly to Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport must book their air travel on a U.S. air carrier per our grant award. MSP is served by all the major US carriers including American, Delta, JetBlue, Southwest, and United.

Where can I stay?

  • There is a block of 12 rooms being held at the Graduate Hotel, which is conveniently located on the Minneapolis East Bank campus. These 12 rooms are reservable at the discounted event rate ($160/night) on a first-come, first-served basis. Other hotels in walking-distance to campus include the Courtyard by Marriott, DoubleTree by Hilton, and the Hampton Inn and Suites. Each of these hotels is connected to campus via the Green Line light rail system. The closest light rail station to Bruininks Hall is the East Bank station.

Session Agenda:

  • Lunch and networking 12-1:00pm
  • CE course 1-5:00pm
  • Complete session evaluations 5:00-5:15pm

Important Dates


  • Stipend application deadline: Friday, June 22, 2018
  • Non-stipend application deadline: open until filled
  • Notifications: Friday, June 29, 2018
  • Course Date: Monday, August 6, 2018


Application Details

  • Name and Contact Information
  • Current Role/Title
  • Place of Employment

If Applying for Travel Stipend, please include:

  • Personal statement (1-2 paragraphs) describing your individual goals, why the training is needed and how you will apply the training in practice
  • CV
  • Letter of Support from your supervisor describing why you should attend and how your participation in the workshop and the quarterly online data management skills CoP will impact the organization moving forward

Application Instructions

Please fill out the online Application Form. If applying for the travel stipend, please upload a PDF of your current CV, your personal statement and your letter of support from your supervisor.


Contact Lisa McGuire at:

This activity is supported by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH) under cooperative agreement number 1UG4LM012346. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Categories: Data Science

Reflections on Big Data in Healthcare: Exploring Emerging Roles

Mon, 2018-04-30 09:22

In the NNLM Big Data in Healthcare: Exploring Emerging Roles course, we asked participants, as they progressed through the course to consider the following questions: Do you think health sciences librarians should get involved with big data in healthcare? Where should librarians get involved, if you think they should? If you think they should not, explain why. You may also combine a “should/should not” approach if you would like to argue both sides. NNLM will feature responses from different participants over the coming weeks.

Written by: Patricia L. Smith, Impact and Dissemination Librarian at Galter Health Sciences Library, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL

Big data in healthcare is a booming area with many facets and ample opportunities for library involvement. The question is not should librarians get involved, but how can librarians get involved? Librarians are natural stewards for big data—we have unique skills that we can leverage to assist researchers, particularly in citing data, data management, information ethics, and data visualization.

The most natural, and perhaps easiest, segue into big data for librarians is in the area of data citation. Researchers are expected to cite their sources—but what about data sets? Data sets are informing practice and are integral parts of the research process, but it is not yet standard practice to cite data. Due to this gap, it is very difficult to trace the use of this data, which hinders the overall research process. Librarians are already embedded in citation support. We teach classes on EndNote, RefWorks, and other bibliographic management software, and answer questions about citation styles and bibliographies. We are already poised to start conversations about the importance of citing data. Librarians can take the initiative create guides, classes, and other promotional material about how to cite data and why it is important. Furthermore, promoting the citation of data would help us track metrics and provide invaluable information about the impact, resonance, and reach of our researchers’ work. This is also an opportunity to promote depositing data sets in institutional repositories when appropriate. Finally, we also have relationships with vendors/publishers—this could open up additional conversations about indexing data sets in various databases.

Another area in which librarians are increasingly getting involved is in the area of research data management. Metadata librarians, electronic resources librarians, and data librarians are uniquely positioned to collect and appraise data, manage data collections and add appropriate metadata, and preserve data. We can help researchers with best practices for data structure, vocabularies, formats, and more.

Big data is not without controversy when it comes to privacy and ethics. Librarians have a history of exhibiting passion in the area of information ethics, so this seems like a natural partnership! Librarians can take the initiative to start conversations with the public about big data—what it is, what it is not, and why it could raise the proverbial ethical eyebrows. On the flip side, librarians can also have conversations with researchers about the public’s concerns surrounding big data. Researchers probably have the best intentions when it comes to using big data, but they need to be aware of why people might have concerns with privacy. Some hold the belief that “patients have a moral obligation to contribute to the common purpose of improving the quality and value of clinical care in the system.”[1] While I concur that participation in healthcare is crucial to moving the science forward, the phrase “moral obligation” might not be the best choice of words, especially from the perspective of skeptical patients, patients concerned with privacy, or patients from racial or ethnic groups that have historically been mistreated by the medical community. Librarians might be able to liaise between the public and researchers to help strengthen these partnerships, and help researchers communicate in the most effective ways.

Another way librarians can get involved in big data is by learning more about data visualization. Not all librarians have to learn R, or Python, or JavaScript, but having a basic knowledge of programming and speaking the language of data scientists will only help our position. There are many free resources to learn about data visualization, e.g. Sci2, Tableau Public, VOSviewer, and more. Presenting data in a visual format is a valued skill, and librarians can learn some basic skills to get a seat at the table.

Overall, there are many ways librarians can and should get involved in big data in healthcare. We must be confident about the skills we already possess and how they can translate to big data, and we must be proactive in marketing our knowledge.


  1. Longhurst CA, Harrington RA, Shah NH. A ‘green button’ for using aggregate patient data at the point of care. Health Aff [Internet]. 2014;33(7):1229-35.
Categories: Data Science

Funding Awarded to UMN for Research Data Management Education

Thu, 2018-04-26 09:33

The GMR is excited to announce that the Health Sciences Libraries at the University of Minnesota have been awarded a Research Data Management (RDM) Award to support research data management services! The project will expand RDM education not only within their institution but across the GMR as well!

Project Description

This project has two goals:

  1. Enable health science librarians at institutions throughout the GMR to build research data management knowledge and skills and develop actionable next steps to provide data services at their libraries
  2. Enable health science faculty and graduate/professional students at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) to better understand data management best practices, be better positioned to prepare more competitive grant proposals, and learn how to prepare datasets for preservation, sharing, and re-use

To address Goal 1, the University of Minnesota will fund up to twelve travel stipends for librarians across the GMR to travel to Minneapolis and attend a special MLA CE approved Data Management Course. Librarians will be selected through a competitive application process.

To accomplish Goal 2, a data management workshop will be hosted on the University of Minnesota Duluth campus for up to 40 faculty and students. In person consultations will also be offered following the workshop to offer more personalized training.

Congrats to UMN and be on the lookout in the coming months for information about applying to attend the Data Management Course in Minnesota!

Categories: Data Science

Should Health Sciences Librarians be Involved with Big Data in Healthcare?

Mon, 2018-04-23 09:03

In the NNLM Big Data in Healthcare: Exploring Emerging Roles course, we asked participants, as they progressed through the course to consider the following questions: Do you think health sciences librarians should get involved with big data in healthcare? Where should librarians get involved, if you think they should? If you think they should not, explain why. You may also combine a “should/should not” approach if you would like to argue both sides. NNLM will feature responses from different participants over the coming weeks.

Written by: Mary Wittenbreer, Head Medical Librarian, Regions Hospital, St. Paul, MN

I would like to give an enthusiastic YES to the question “Should health sciences librarians get involved with big data in healthcare?” I believe that librarians have the skill sets to provide assistance and collaborate with most professions. However the size of my yes gets bigger or smaller when I step back and look at my current situation.

I am a hospital librarian in a regional integrated healthcare system with a large research and education institution. As hospital librarians, our first priority is assisting and providing clinicians with knowledge-based resources for patient care. I don’t want to make this into an issue about not having adequate staff and time but it does come into play. The librarians in the Read article spent a substantial amount of time reading the literature, choosing and creating questions, selecting the study participants and conducting the interviews and then analyzing the results to determine how and what the librarians could assist the researchers. In my institution, I would need a champion who had already half-way convinced those doing research that it would be worth their time to speak with a librarian. I am not saying that this is impossible, but the challenge is there. Or do I need to get over this and accept that not being adequately staffed is the new norm.

Hospital librarians are very capable in training researchers in how to best store and archive data and how to make it findable for future users. We are also capable of writing instructions for standardizing these processes. Our skill set allows us to step-in at the beginning of a project to help organize and identify any special services that might be needed. I particularly liked Martin’s view that at the center of all this big data collection is the user, not the data. Her division of user’s needs into different buckets was helpful in that it put into perspective, one piece at a time, what a librarian’s role would be in each category. Thus breaking big data into smaller pieces.

But I have to admit my eyes glaze over at the mention of R, Python, Tableau,  LOCKSS, and CLOCKSS. This class, I feel, did an excellent job of introducing me to Data Science and its language. I felt that I could read the articles without having to look up too many definitions. Looking back to 9 weeks ago, I realize how little I really understood about Big Data. Now I realize that I know probably just enough to confuse myself and others. I am definitely caught in a training gap and it is decision time. Do I continue to educate myself and suggest to my co-workers to do as well, or do I stop because nothing will ever come of any additional training.

Then my inner librarian voice speaks up and says, “Keep Going!” There are many opportunities for librarian involvement in Data Management within my organization.  Researchers have been extracting patient population data from the EMR for a number of years. They may have systems in place for storing, archiving and sharing but I won’t know until I ask. Holding information interviews might very well be possible for me and my co-workers to handle. Find that champion. Take more courses.

I realize that my situation may be unique in the hospital library world. Not all hospitals have an established research arm. If a librarian’s job is to organize information, data is information. Librarians will need to know how to search the data sets and interpret the meaning just as we do different databases and journal article types. To not be involved in Big Data or to not train future librarians in Data Science is not forward thinking. In the 2017-2027 NLM Strategic Plan Dr. Brennan states in From the Director section, “The very nature of libraries is changing.” I say a big YES.


Categories: Data Science

Reflections on Big Data in Healthcare: Exploring Emerging Roles

Mon, 2018-04-16 09:35

In the NNLM Big Data in Healthcare: Exploring Emerging Roles course, we asked participants, as they progressed through the course to consider the following questions: Do you think health sciences librarians should get involved with big data in healthcare? Where should librarians get involved, if you think they should? If you think they should not, explain why. You may also combine a “should/should not” approach if you would like to argue both sides. NNLM will feature responses from different participants over the coming weeks.

Written by: Nicole Montgomery, MISLT, AHIP, Librarian, Assistant Professor, CoxHealth Systems and Cox College, Springfield, MO

I am certain that Health Sciences Librarians should be involved with anything healthcare. This is our job.

I have often teased that we are the bartenders of our institutions. We have a seat in the organization that is unique to any other in that it allows us to interact with everybody. Literally, everybody! From the person who cleans the library, to the CEO of the hospital, or the people who work in financial services, the nurse on the floor, an occupational therapy student, a patient who just learned her baby will be staying in the NICU, or a physician trying to determine the best treatment for a difficult case. We hear people’s stories; we hear their frustrations and sometimes lend an ear when they need one. Librarians are intrinsically user-focused.

We typically get to know our users, and we are able to see the overall picture of the information they are seeking. Because of our familiarity with our users, if a physician needs insight into a nutrition-related topic, I am in a position to know which dietician on staff will likely be able and willing to answer his questions. Or, when the college I work with decides to investigate some cool 3-D equipment, I am able to suggest collaborating with the hospital’s residency program to share the cost and make the most of using the equipment. The real-life examples are endless, but ultimately, we desire to bridge the gap between departments, disciplines and people with like-interests; because we know that working together is usually better than staying in our silos.

What I am not certain of, is to what level we should be involved with big data initiatives. In the light of Big Data, I believe most librarians still have a lot to learn about our organizations before we may answer the question about our level of involvement. I imagine we will all find different answers.

In conjunction to exploring our institutions, I think librarians need to begin discussions in an attempt to answer how Big Data may impact libraries. We need to ask ourselves questions about the future such as: will we still have print books, current journals and stacks of bound serials? Will libraries still exist as brick and mortar buildings? Will all of our materials be delivered electronically? Will the librarian simply become a person behind a computer screen? Will our profession become a fond memory of the past, just like the card catalog? What will the entire publishing industry look like? Krumholz briefly addresses the question about the publishing industry on p. 1169 of his article by saying, “In the future, the products of scientific inquiry may evolve from a static journal publication to a more dynamic platform for presenting and updating results.” Brennan predicts the same at 1:10:21 of her presentation. She says (with an apology to any journal editors), “We’re moving pretty quickly away from journal articles and pretty fast into blogs…and shared knowledge building. In health sciences, the “bread and butter” of our world is journal articles. While we, as librarians, typically pride ourselves on being willing to embrace technology, I think the inception of Big Data into our world may challenge us and may change our profession in a way we cannot yet imagine.

In an effort to give us a place to begin, librarian Elaine R. Martin provides a proposed “Data Management Framework for Librarians.” She says her proposed framework is user-centered and includes five “buckets”: Data Services, Data Management Practices, Data Literacy, Archives/Preservation, and Data Policy. Without delving into explaining each “bucket” within this essay, it is easy to say that each proposed bucket provides familiar concepts to librarians. For instance, the Data Services bucket, “…may include the following activities: assessing researcher needs, performing an institutional data environmental scan, conducting the research interview, designing a suite of services such as assistance with DMPs [Data Management Practices] based on user needs, etc.” These concepts are digestible for librarians and definitely provide us with a place to start.

While my parallel of being the bartenders of our institutions is intended to be humorous, there is quite a bit of truth to this. No matter what changes the future holds, as librarians, we will instinctively do our part.


  1. Krumholz, HM. Big Data And New Knowledge In Medicine: The Thinking, Training, And Tools Needed For A Learning Health System
  2. Brennan, Patti. NINR Big Data Boot Camp Part 4: Big Data in Nursing Research
  3. Martin, Elaine R. The Role of Librarians in Data Science: A Call to Action
Categories: Data Science

Save the Date: Midwest Data Librarian Symposium (MDLS) 2018

Wed, 2018-02-28 10:51

SAVE THE DATE! The Iowa State University Library in Ames, IA will be hosting the 2018 Midwest Data Librarian Symposium (MDLS) on October 8-9, 2018.

MDLS 2018 is intended to provide Midwestern librarians who support research data management the chance to network and expand their research data-related knowledge base and skill sets. It is open to all who wish to attend, including those from the Midwest and beyond as well as librarians in training.

Attendance to this event is capped and decided on a first-come, first-served basis. Stay tuned for more announcements, follow @MW_DataLibSym on Twitter, or check the MDLS webpage for updates as they become available

Questions should be directed to

Categories: Data Science