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 users.
An accredited degree is usually needed for entry into this profession.

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 online, by careers services and specialist recruitment agencies, in local/national newspapers, in The Times Higher Education Supplement. Early applications for traineeships and postgraduate courses (particularly where funding is sought) are essential.

Qualifications and training required

An undergraduate degree or postgraduate qualification in information science/management or librarianship accredited by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals 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.

Key skills for information scientists

  • Motivation
  • Excellent research skills
  • Organisation
  • Teamworking
  • Verbal and written communication
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Computer skills
  • Proficiency with databases and the internet