Statement of Purpose

In 2007 the National Science Foundation (NSF) issued a report on technology-driven research, or “e-science” that describes a need to build public collections of digital data sets {{238 National Science Foundation, Cyberinfrastructure Council 2007;}}. NSF envisions digital science and engineering data being routinely deposited in community supported repositories, being readily discoverable and openly accessible in well-documented form by specialists and non-specialists alike, and being reliably preserved for long term access.  Acting on this vision, NSF and other agencies are now requiring that researchers develop data management plans as a part of their grant applications.  However, in most fields, researchers have generally not concentrated on the organization, access, re-use, and preservation of data in their day-to-day research activities.  The lack of researcher awareness, knowledge and training on data disposition, management and curation issues present a significant challenge in realizing NSF’s vision of 21st century scientific practice. Raising awareness of researchers’ responsibilities and affecting real change in their behaviors will require a concerted effort to educate scientists.

Project Background

The Purdue University Libraries partnered with the libraries of the University of Minnesota, the University of Oregon and Cornell University to address these issues through developing and implementing data information literacy (DIL) instruction programs for graduate students. This document is an attempt to share our collective experience developing and implementing instructional interventions addressing data information literacy for graduate students in STEM disciplines. We include a high-level description of the process that we followed in developing our instructional interventions as well as a discussion of how data information literacy might fit in with existing information literacy programs already in place. We also include an introduction to each of the 12 DIL competencies, sample outcomes for each of the competencies, information about the instructional intervention(s) created by teams to address the competencies (if created), and resources and tools related to each competency. Finally, we provide best practices and suggestions for each stage of creating a data information literacy program at your own institution, including planning, development, implementation, and assessment.

What is Data Information Literacy (DIL)?

Data information literacy (DIL) seeks to incorporate and build upon relevant aspects of information and other literacies to articulate the skill sets needed by graduate students to fulfill their obligations and engage their communities of practice with regards to data. The management and curation of data is becoming increasingly central to researcher workflows, but little has been done to establish what core skills are needed in this e-science environment. Based on research at Purdue, a set of 12 core competencies have been proposed that would comprise a data information literacy program {{203 Carlson 2011;}}. Acccording to the Association of College and Research Libraries  (ACRL),  “Information literacy is a set of abilities requiring individuals to ‘recognize when information is needed and have the ability to locate, evaluate, and use effectively the needed information.’” ( A central tenant of DIL , and a key difference between information literacy, which focuses on students as consumers of information, and data literacy, is the recognition of researchers as producers of data, as well as data consumers.  Data literacy, then, is a combination , or integration of data, statistical, information, and science data literacy, integrating them into a new kind of skill set (Carlson, 2011).