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 eScholarship site contains entries for most of Professor Borgman’s 150+ 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

December 2018 “The principles of tomorrow’s university” F1000Research 7:e1926. Daniel S. Katz, Gabrielle Allen, Lorena A. Barba, Devin R. Berg, Holly Bik, Carl Boettiger, Christine L. Borgman, C. Titus Brown, Stuart Buck, Randy Burd, Anita de Waard, Martin Paul Eve, Brian E. Granger, Josh Greenberg, Adina Howe, Bill Howe, May Khanna, Timothy L. Killeen, Matthew Mayernik, Erin McKiernan, Chris Mentzel, Nirav Merchant, Kyle E. Niemeyer, Laura Noren, Sarah M. Nusser, Daniel A. Reed, Edward Seidel, MacKenzie Smith, Jeffrey R. Spies, Matt Turk, John D. Van Horn, Jay Walsh. (link to text and citation)

September 2018 “Digital data archives as knowledge infrastructures: Mediating data sharing and reuse” Christine L. Borgman, Andrea Scharnhorst, Milena S. Golshan. (link to text and citation)

September 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 2018 “Text data mining from the author’s perspective: Whose text, whose mining, and to whose benefit?” Data Mining with Limited Access Text: National Forum. Christine L. Borgman. (link to text and citation)

July 2017 “Using the Jupyter Notebook as a tool for open science: An empirical study” 2017 ACM/IEEE Joint Conference on Digital Libraries (JCDL). Bernadette M. Randles, Irene V. Pasquetto, Milena S. Golshan, 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)

December 2016 “The durability and fragility of knowledge infrastructures: Lessons learned from astronomy” Proceedings of the Association for Information Science and Technology 53:e1. Christine L. Borgman, Ashley E. Sands, Peter T. Darch, Milena S. Golshan. (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, 11:e1, 128–149. Christine L. Borgman, Milena S. Golshan, 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)