To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

Incorporating data literacy into undergraduate information literacy programs in the social sciences: A pilot project

Elizabeth Stephenson (UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA)
Patti Schifter Caravello (UCLA, Los Angeles, California, USA)

Reference Services Review

ISSN: 0090-7324

Article publication date: 13 November 2007




The purpose of this paper is to describe and analyze the confluence of data literacy with information literacy in an experimental one‐unit course taught in the UCLA Department of Sociology, and present the literature on, rationale for, and future of integrating these interrelated literacies into social science courses.


The course was co‐taught twice by a librarian and a data archivist using a syllabus and assignments that reflect sociological research problems and tools and information literacy competencies in the social sciences.


The need for information and data skills in sociology is well‐established, and their integration into a sociology course (rather than in a stand‐alone information literacy course) would produce more opportunities for students to apply what they learn and for the instructors to assess learning in the context of doing sociology coursework.

Research limitations/implications

The class sizes were too small for full‐scale assessment and pre‐tests/post‐tests were not given. Assessment of student learning was based on work produced in and outside class and on course evaluations.

Practical implications

It is suggested that librarians and data archivists work with faculty to innovate curricular approaches based on recommendations and outcomes in key documents on learning sociology from professional library and sociology organizations. Attaching the lab to an existing course and promoting the data literacy modules for faculty to adopt in other courses are also suggested.


This paper invites social science librarians to examine the value to students and faculty of collaboration with professional data services staff to teach and merge information and data literacy within the social sciences curricula.



Stephenson, E. and Schifter Caravello, P. (2007), "Incorporating data literacy into undergraduate information literacy programs in the social sciences: A pilot project", Reference Services Review, Vol. 35 No. 4, pp. 525-540.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2007, Emerald Group Publishing Limited