Data@Reed Staff Profile: Helen Scharber

This is the first in our occasion series featuring a member of the Data@Reed Team. We start with out newest member, Helen Scharber, Quantitative Skills and Academic Support Coordinator.

Helen Scharber Profile PictureWhat is your role at Reed?
I’m the Quantitative Skills and Academic Support Coordinator at Reed. The Quantitative Skills part means that I run workshops and provide coaching sessions on math skills and study strategies. That’s my favorite part of the job! The Academic Support Coordinator part means I do useful administrative things to support tutoring and other academic support activities.

How do you support data at Reed?
Successful data analysis often relies on having good fundamental math or quantitative reasoning skills. I work with students on those skills in coaching sessions, and we often discuss other things that can indirectly support their work, like study strategies and time management.

What is the hardest thing about working with data?
I find cleaning and preparing data to be the hardest part of working with data. It’s so satisfying, once your data is in shape, to do the analyses and see whether your hypotheses are supported or not. But it seems like, for every hour of the fun part, there are 20 hours of getting the data in order.

Favorite data visualization?Genealogy of Pop/Rock Music visualization reprinted in Edward Tufte's book Visual Explanations.
I love the Genealogy of Pop/Rock Music visualization that Edward Tufte reprinted in his Visual Explanations book. The image was created in 1975, and I think helps stretch our idea of what “data” are while also reminding us that good design is just as important as fancy technology. (Although fancy technology is really nice!)

Favorite data resource?
Honestly, my favorite data resource is the collective knowledge and generosity of everyone who has asked or answered a question related to R, Stata, MySQL or Excel on an online forum. None of my projects using data could have gotten done without their help.

Anything else we should know about you?
I’m loving the Query function in Google Sheets lately. Also, tea.

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November EndNote and Zotero Workshops

Having trouble with your citation management in EndNote or Zotero? Join us for one of our 30 minute drop-in workshops.

All workshops will be in Library L17.

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EndNote Troubleshooting

Monday 11/6/17 3:00-3:30
Wednesday 11/15/17 4:00-4:30

 

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Zotero Troubleshooting

Friday 11/10/17 3:00-3:30
Monday 11/13/17 3:30-4:00

 

We can help with: downloading, populating a library, back-up, sharing, creating collections, making standalone bibliography, cite while you write, footnotes, adding page numbers, etc.

Questions? Ask A Librarian!

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Upcoming Workshop: Dealing with Data

Dealing with Data

Senior Thesis Workshop
Thursday October 26 12-1 pm

Join faculty, including Associate Professor of Biology Kara Cerveny, for a conversation about key data moments in the thesis-writing process. The workshop will be useful for students early in the thesis process, focusing on what Cerveny calls “predata-ing.”

David Gruber, Assistant Dean of Students for Academic Support, describes predata-ing as:

Helping students think early about how the data they collect, and the questions they ask about their data, contributes to their thesis project. It can be helpful to hear about how other students are approaching data collection and use, and the workshop gives students a chance to learn from each other.

The workshop will also include staff from the Data@Reed team who can provide assistance with finding, managing, analyzing, visualizing, and preserving data.

This series is open to seniors of all majors, including Spring-Falls.

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October Citation Management Workshops

It’s probably time to start writing your papers. New to using EndNote or Zotero? Need a refresher on how to create a bibliography or cite while you write? We can help. Join us for one of our 30 minute drop-in workshops.

All workshops will be in Library L17.

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Introduction to EndNote  Wednesday 10/4/17 2:00-2:30

EndNote & Microsoft Word  Wednesday 10/11/17 2:00-2:30

Introduction to Zotero – Monday 10/2/17 3:00-3:30

Zotero & Microsoft Word – Monday 10/9/17 3:00-3:30

Questions? Ask A Librarian!

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Stata workshop: Econ 311

Join me in ETC 211 today, Friday 9/22 (1:10-2pm), for a workshop on using Stata for analysis as you might in Econ 311 this fall (Prof. Jeff Parker).

Materials: codefile (do file) | slides

note: you’ll need to be logged in to your Reed-self to access the codefile above.

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Come learn about Zotero and EndNote

Come learn about the new versions of Zotero and EndNote at our September drop-in workshops.

Intro to EndNote – Monday 9/11/17 4:30-5:00 in Library 17

EndNote & Microsoft Word – Wednesday 9/20/17 10:00-10:30 in Library 17

 

Intro to Zotero – Monday 9/11/17 3:30-4:oo in Library 17

Zotero & Microsoft Word – Monday 9/18/17 3:30-4:00 in Library 221

 

Zotero and EndNote are two citation management software packages available to Reed students. Citation managers allow you to create your own personal research database to easily collect, organize , and format references. Learning to use a citation manager will help you save time when creating bibliographies.

Questions? Ask A Librarian!

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New Data @ Reed Website!

The Data@Reed Team have been busy this summer – in between a regatta, a heatwave, and the solar eclipse we managed to make major changes to our website!

Courtesy of Special Collections, Eric V. Hauser Memorial Library, Reed College.

The first change you’ll notice are the addition of historic photographs to the homepage.

Faculty and students have been working with data at Reed since the very beginning of the institution.

How we deal with data is always changing, though, so we updated our Stata tutorials as well as our recommendations for citing data. We also added some tips for students on finding and managing data.

Finally, we added descriptions of our data services for faculty.

Let us know what you think!

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Endangered Data Week, April 17-21

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Today is the start of the first-ever Endangered Data Week!

The goal of the week is to increase visibility for at-risk public datasets – either from deletion, repression, or loss.

The website for Endangered Data Week has some background information as to why this issue is coming to prominence now:

Political events in the United States have shed new light on the fragility of publicly administered data. In just the first few weeks of the Trump administration and 115th Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency was allegedly ordered to remove climate change information from its website, the USDA removed animal welfare data from its website, and the House passed H.Res.5, specifically excluding changes to the Affordable Care Act from mandatory long-term cost data analysis. The Senate and House of Representatives have both received proposed bills (S.103 and H.R.482) prohibiting funding from being used “to design, build, maintain, utilize, or provide access to a Federal database of geospatial information on community racial disparities or disparities in access to affordable housing.” While researchers, archivists, librarians, and watchdog groups work hard to create and preserve open data, there’s little guarantee that information under federal control will always survive changes to federal agencies.

Endangered Data Week is building on two other noteworthy data rescue programs that have sprung up in the last few months: Data Refuge (focusing on climate data) and ICPSR’s DataLumos (focusing on social science data). 

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Check out the Endangered Data Week website for more information about how to get involved.

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Upcoming Spring Zotero and EndNote Troubleshooting Workshops

Having trouble with your citation management in EndNote or Zotero? Join us for one of our 30 minute drop-in workshops.

All workshops will be in Library L17.

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EndNote Troubleshooting

Friday 4/14/17 3:00-3:30
Tuesday 4/18/17 4:00-4:30

 

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Zotero Troubleshooting

Wednesday 4/12/17 4:30-5:00
Friday 4/21/17 11:00-11:30

 

We can help with: downloading, populating a library, back-up, sharing, creating collections, making standalone bibliography, cite while you write, footnotes, adding page numbers, etc.

Questions? Ask A Librarian!

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Common Data Quandaries: Finding Data

Finding data for your research project can be difficult. You may not be sure the data exist or where to start looking. Further complicating matters, interfaces for retrieving data vary greatly. Ask yourself the following two questions to get your search started on the right foot:

1. Are you looking for Data or Statistics?

statabstIt is easy to get the two terms confused. Statistics are an interpretation or summary of data. They are the result of analysis and usually come in the form of a table or chart. Examples of statistics can be found in the Statistical Abstract of the United States.

Data is the raw information from which statistics can be created. Data usually comes in datasets which are machine-readable files that can be analyzed in programs like Excel, Stata, and R. To gain a deeper understanding of any given phenomenon, you need to analyze data.

2. Who may have created the data or statistic that you seek?

Instead of thinking about the data itself, think about the source. Possibilities include:

The Government. Governments collect all sorts of data on populations, health, business, and many other topics. Department and agency websites often have a data section. Data.gov is the portal to the federal government’s open data.

Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). NGOs often collection data in line with their mission. NGOs can be helpful when looking for local and international data.

Private companies. Business often gather and package data for sale. The library can help with the process of purchasing proprietary data when necessary.

Other researchers. Sharing data is becoming increasingly common among researchers who share their data in data repositories. Re3data is a searchable catalog of data repositories.

These are just two questions to get you started, but there are many more brainstorming questions to help with a data search. Need help? Email me to set up an appointment.

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