Information scientist: job description

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 often 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 is spent communicating with colleagues or carrying out research in archives of documents.

Key duties of the job include:

  • evaluating, organising, cataloguing, classifying, managing and distributing information in a variety of formats
  • creating databases
  • ensuring that information is up to date
  • ensuring that data protection laws are met
  • helping to develop intranets for staff to use
  • answering Freedom of Information (FOI) requests
  • carrying out information audits, inquiries and internal commissions
  • answering enquiries from staff and external parties
  • 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
  • maintaining a budget
  • training and supervising assistant staff.

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
  • Universities

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

Qualifications and training required

It’s possible to enter this profession with a degree in any subject. However, some employers require a relevant subject such as information science or information and library studies.

Depending on the industry you work in, you may need a sector-specific degree. For example, if you are managing history databases, a history degree may be preferable.

Many employers ask for an undergraduate or postgraduate degree accredited by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP). A list of accredited qualifications is available on CILIP’s website.

Any experience of working in a library, archive or research facility is beneficial. You can also apply for IT, technology or administration-related industrial placements, summer internships and insight programmes.

If you are a school leaver (or a graduate) who has been working in a library, you can apply to CILIP for certification. This will be awarded in recognition of the knowledge and skills that you have developed in your role. To get certified, you will need to complete various activities to demonstrate your continuing professional development (CPD) and submit an electronic portfolio.

Key skills for information scientists

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