Information scientist: job description

Information scientists are responsible for managing the acquisition, supply and distribution of information within an organisation or section of an organisation, and for making that information accessible to its' clients and/or customers.
The Arts and Humanities Research Board fund a limited number of information science/management course places.

What does an information scientist do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

Information scientists typically work across the breadth of a company. A lot of their time will be spent communicating with colleagues, or carrying out research in archives of documents.

Key duties of the job include:

  • evaluating, organising, classifying, managing and distributing information in a variety of formats
  • answering Freedom of Information (FOI) requests
  • carrying out audits, inquiries and internal commissions
  • answering enquiries
  • maintaining statistical and financial records
  • writing reports
  • using specialist computer applications
  • searching for and retrieving information from the internet and online databases
  • promoting and marketing services.

Typical employers of information scientists

  • private and public sector organisations
  • public libraries and information services
  • government departments
  • professional associations
  • research establishments
  • charities
  • academic or school libraries
  • commercial organisations.

Vacancies are advertised via the internet, by careers services and specialist recruitment agencies such as TFPL and INFOmatch, in local/national newspapers, in The Times Higher Education Supplement and in the Library Association's fortnightly bulletin. Speculative and early applications for traineeships and postgraduate courses (particularly where funding is sought) are essential.

Qualifications and training required

A Library Association/Institute of Information Scientists accredited degree or postgraduate qualification in information science/management or librarianship is usually required for entry into the profession. Specialist knowledge may also be needed for some vacancies.

At least one year of relevant experience is often necessary prior to postgraduate study. This can be gained by working as a library/information assistant, or via a graduate training scheme (the Library Association publishes an annual list of training vacancies).

Key skills for information scientists

  • motivated
  • excellent research skills
  • organised
  • team-working
  • verbal communication
  • interpersonal skills
  • computer literate
  • proficient with databases and the internet.