Data is instrumental to the scientific process. We live in an era of “big data” and scientists are collecting it faster than they can manage it. Yet, a 2015 paper published in Science claimed that half of all psychological research could not be replicated, drawing international headlines. A second paper released by the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank found similar problems in economics shortly thereafter. Institutional libraries have emerged as key partners to scientists in data instrumentation by providing research data services (RDS). Recent research shows that academic libraries do not frequently offer RDS, but many are planning to do so soon. One consequence of this change is that many librarians will have to handle the ethical and legal issues associated with data curation. For example, if librarians work with scholars to preserve Twitter data, should personal identifiers be included? Even if removing them makes study replication impossible? What obligations are librarians under to report insufficient or haphazard subject protection? How does the American Library Association (ALA) Code of Professional Ethics fit into this equation?
This webinar presents a panel discussion about data ethics in library and information science (LIS) education. The aim is to enable LIS educators to prepare librarians to support researchers in data curation while remaining mindful of ethical issues. Three speakers will offer their perspectives on the matter prior to an open discussion.
Asked to provide “theoretical perspectives,” I will be discussing some of the conceptual gaps and policy vacuums that emerge alongside the rise of big data-based research, and how these pose challenges for us as ethicists and as library practitioners. Here are my slides: