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Region 4 News June 21st, 2024
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Living on the Data Fringes: Making Sense of Competencies

Posted in: All Members, Blog, Data Science

Organizations are striving to become data driven as they realize that data is becoming a mission critical topic. Finding, wrangling, analyzing, and managing data can require advanced computation skill sets. However, not everyone wants to be a data scientist, data analyst, or what the EDC Oceans of Data Institute calls a ‘data practitioner’. All members in an organization, no matter what their job, should have an appreciation of the scope of data, an awareness of how data is used in the organization, as well as, some basic data literacy skills. Striving to become data savvy should not be limited to those with science jobs who work with data on a daily basis. It is a competency that is also found in areas such as business, the social sciences, and even the humanities. We all need to understand how data is integrated into our lives. It would be helpful for someone diagnosed with a serious disease and researching at a public library to know how to interpret statistics about treatment and care options. Students in k-12 and up to the college level need to know how to find and interpret data as they conduct research in their classes. Humanities researchers might need to know how to do text mining to analyze a text corpus. But how do we know if we are data literate or competent in data skills? One way is to look at data competency models and find areas that you can relate to your daily work situation. What do you already know and/or do already? What competency areas do you need or want to learn more about?

Competence wordcloudLet’s start with the definition of a competency. A competency is a collection of knowledge, skills and behaviors that together demonstrate effective work performance in a particular area. It is a visible application of knowledge and behaviors. For example there may be managerial/leadership competencies, technical competencies, or functional competencies related to particular disciplines or job tasks. A competency does not equal a skill (although both are action-oriented). A skill may be one of the components of a competency, or several skills may be part of one competency. This competency concept is also important in k-12 and higher education where it is called competency-based education (CBE).

Now, thinking about data competencies, I believe the best approach to using competencies is to look at a variety of competency models or frameworks to better understand the expectations for knowledge, skills and behaviors related to your work position or desired job.  Many of the published competency models overlap, and you may be surprised to learn that your professional organization may have already established some data competencies for your role or position. Different competency models or frameworks might also overlap, so try looking outside of your specific area for more general competency areas such as research, communication, and collaboration. Use the competencies you find to guide personalized data professional development. What competency areas are you comfortable with? Which ones do you need to learn more about? You can combine the competency components that best fit your particular work situation, and use that as guide a build a professional development plan. The competencies can be a way to focus your learning and reflect on how to level up your data knowledge and skills.

Here are a few models to review and reflect on and find focus areas for your professional development:

So enjoy reflecting on your librarian role and how you can expand your competencies! It will help you articulate your strengths and skills and make a better case for your impact on the library and community.

Image: Gerd Altmann from Pixabay 



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Network of the National Library of Medicine/NNLM Region 4
University of Utah
Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library
10 North 1900 East
Salt Lake City, UT 84112-5890
Phone: 801-587-3650
This project has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012344 with the University of Utah Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library.

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