Big Data, Little Data, No Data: Scholarship in the Networked World

biglittlenodata_cover“Big Data” offers today’s scholars vast opportunities for discovery and insight, but having the right data is often better than having more data. “Little data” can be just as valuable as big data. In many cases, scholars have no data because relevant data do not exist, or cannot be found, or are not available. Moreover, sharing data is difficult, incentives to do so are minimal, and data practices vary widely across disciplines. The argument of this book is that data have no value or meaning in isolation; they exist within a knowledge infrastructure – an ecology of people, practices, technologies, institutions, material objects, and relationships.

After laying out the premises of this wide-ranging investigation – six “provocations” meant to inspire discussion about the uses of data in scholarship; competing definitions of “data;” and social, policy, and economic aspects of research data – the book presents case studies of data scholarship in the sciences, the social sciences, and the humanities. The book also assesses the implications of these findings for scholarly practice and research policy. Concluding chapters explore releasing, sharing, and reusing data; credit, attribution, and discovery; and what to keep and why. In sum, the book argues that to manage and exploit data over the long term requires massive investment in knowledge infrastructures. At stake is the future of scholarship.

Available from MIT Press; also available from Amazon

Publications are listed and linked at Selected Works at

The bepress site contains entries for most of Professor Borgman’s 200+ publications. Also included are abstracts, slides, and video links for recent presentations, and recent course syllabi. Entries are grouped by format (e.g., books; journals; book chapters; conference papers; reports, articles, posters, panels, and interviews). Each section is organized in reverse chronological order. The site is also keyword searchable and is updated regularly.

Recent Publications

Forthcoming 2018 “Open Data, Grey Data, and Stewardship: Universities at the Privacy Frontier” Berkeley Technology Law Journal 33:e2. Christine L. Borgman. (link to text and citation)

March 2017 “On the Reuse of Scientific Data” Data Science Journal 16. Irene V. Pasquetto, Bernadette M. Randles, Christine L. Borgman. (link to text and citation)

November 2016 “Ship space to database: emerging infrastructures for studies of the deep subseafloor biosphere” PeerJ Computer Science 2:e97. Peter T. Darch, Christine L. Borgman. (link to text and citation)

May 2016 “Data Management in the Long Tail: Science, Software and Service” The International Journal of Digital Curation 2016, Vol. 11, Iss. 1, 128–149. Christine L Borgman, Golshan S Milena, Ashley E Sands, Jillian C Wallis, Rebekah Cummings, Peter T Darch. (link to text and citation)

May 2016 “Not Fade Away: Social Science Research Data in the Digital Era” Social Sciences Research Council Meeting, 2 May 2016, New York Public Library. Christine L Borgman. (link to text and citation)

May 2016 “Open Data in Scientific Settings: From Policy to Practice” Proceedings of the 2016 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (2016). Irene V Pasquetto, Ashley E Sands, Peter T Darch, Christine L Borgman. (link to text and citation)

November 2015 “Exploring Openness in Data and Science: What is “Open,” to Whom, When, and Why?” Proceedings of the 78th American Society for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) Annual Meeting 2015, St. Louis, MO (2015). Irene V Pasquetto, Ashley E Sands, Christine L Borgman. (link to text and citation)

September 2015 “DOE Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (ASCAC) Subcommittee Report on Scientific and Technical Information” Advanced Scientific Computing Advisory Committee (2015). Tony Hey, Deborah Agarwal, Christine L Borgman, Concetta Cartaro, Silvia Crivelli, Kerstin Kleese Van Dam. (link to text and citation)

July 2015 “Knowledge Infrastructures in Science: Data, Diversity, and Digital Libraries.” International Journal on Digital Libraries. with Peter T. Darch, Ashley E. Sands, Irene V. Pasquetto, Milena S. Golshan, Jillian C. Wallis, and Sharon Traweek. (link to text and citation)

March 2015 “An introduction to the joint principles for data citation.” Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, 41(3), 43–45. with Micah Altman, Mercè Crosas, and  Maryann Matone. (link to text and citation)