In a new installment of The Authority File podcast titled “Researching Big Data: Putting Data in an academic context,” host Bill Mickey interviews SAGE Publishing’s Head of Product Innovation, Ian Mulvaney, and three data academics from University of Southern California Libraries department, Caroline Muglia, Andy Rutkowski, and Eimmy Solis. This instalment is part of a multipart series surrounding research methodologies around—and library support of—big data. In it, the guests discuss big data in an academic setting how big data research is outgrowing its science-based origins and bleeding into the humanities and social sciences.
“When you think about the characteristics of data,” says Mulvaney, “you can think of data as found data; data that has just emerged through other uses or other applications… in contrast to data that you collect yourself from your own research question. But when I think about the utility of data or what feels like big data for academics, I like to think about how big is it when it starts to be a problem for academics.”
Currently big data is taking the main stage in many contexts becoming more mainstream, growing tremendously due to accessibility. The cost of storage is plummeting, the cost of computation has dropped and the making of open source data analyzing tools has allowed for massive amounts of digital data to exist with the ability to read and use it. This is resulting in opportunities for academics. Colleagues Muglia, co-associate dean of libraries, Rutowski, visualization specialist and Solis, social science data librarian, are at the forefront of this and believe that sharing opportunities with students and academics in a library context is what is needed globally.
“There are so many definitions to big data,” Muglia says, “but here at USC we agree that it has to do with the volume, however that size is subjective. The point that resonates the most is that there are many opportunities for libraries, librarians and education professionals to get in there to do instruction, be research partners in that work or bring work back to the libraries as a skill share on what the university globally is doing in that work.”
For the full break down and thoughts of big data listen to the full podcast below.
About the Guests
Caroline Muglia is Head, Resource Sharing, Co-Associate Dean, Collections at University of Southern California Libraries.