Socio-technical Data Analytics

SODA_image.jpg?itok=hewpr8ixWhat is Socio-technical Data Analytics?
Massive changes in how data are created, disseminated, and used have increased the role that information plays in industry, science, scholarship, government, and our every-day lives. Socio-technical data analytics combines both the technical (databases, social networking, data mining, and text mining) and social (economic, ethical, policy, and political) aspects of data analytics. The term “socio-technical” reflects the complex interplay between the decisions made during the collection, curation, and transformation steps in the information lifecycle, and their impact on the analytical methods that should be employed.

What is the Socio-technical Data Analytics specialization?
The SODA specialization was specifically designed to provide students with the theoretical foundations and hands-on experience necessary to fill the shortage of data management and analytic experts that has been estimated at 1.5 million in the U.S. alone. The program ensures that students understand the entire information lifecycle from the initial data creation, dissemination, analysis, use, reuse, and new data collection. Students who complete the program will understand the strengths and limitations of analytical methods, which is critical for both master's students as they fill immediate roles as information professionals, and doctoral students as they develop new methods to mitigate such limitations.

What courses will I take?
The SODA specialization is a collection of 5 graduate level courses (18-26 credit hours) that together uniquely prepare students to manage and analyze data. All students will take the following 2 courses (8 credit hours):

  • LIS452 Foundations of Information Processing in Library and Information Science*
  • LIS590AG Evidence-based Discovery (new course offered in Fall 2013)

*Students who already know how to program should replace LIS452 with a second analytics or technology course (we recommend a second analytics course). To replace LIS452, submit documentation about your previous programming course (course name, institution and course description) or relevant work experience.

All students must complete at least one technology development course (4 credit hours). Any 4-credit-hour technology development course can be used, such as:

  • LIS490 Introduction to Databases
  • LIS560 Digital Libraries
  • LIS590RPE Rapid Prototyping
  • CS 467 Social Visualization

All students must complete at least one advanced analytical methods course (4 credit hours). Any 4-credit-hour analytical methods course that includes a project can be used, such as:

  • LIS590DT Data mining applications
  • LIS590NA Network Analysis
  • LIS590MT Infometrics
  • LIS590TM Text Mining

All students must complete at least one hands-on experience, where students work closely with faculty and industry partners to obtain experience with complex socio-technical data ecologies. Faculty and industry partners currently affiliated with SODA have expertise in agriculture, public health, and the environment.

  • MS: practicum (100 hours; LIS591) or internship (2 credit hours)
  • CAS: final project (4-8 credit hours; LIS593)
  • PhD: LIS592 Independent Study (4 credit hours) or LIS599 Thesis Research (at least 4 credit hours in SODA, and a total of 32 credit hours required for the entire PhD dissertation)

Other strongly recommended courses (at any level):

  • LIS453 Systems Analysis and Management
  • LIS456 Information Storage and Retrieval

Other relevant courses:

  • LIS410 Text Information Systems
  • LIS490GI Geographic Information Systems
  • LIS560 Information Modeling
  • LIS586 Digital Preservation
  • LIS531 Foundations of Data Curation
  • LIS590DH Digital Humanities
  • LIS590DM Document Modeling
  • LIS590CW Computer-supported Cooperative Work
  • LIS590SC Social Computing
  • LIS590UMI Understanding Multimedia Information
  • LIS590OD Ontology Development

Note that the MS and PhD have additional required courses which can be completed online (MS, PhD).

Who teaches the SODA courses?
GSLIS SODA faculty conduct research on how to design, develop, and evaluate new technologies in order to better understand the dynamic interplay between people, information, and technology. The SODA educational program mirrors their research effort and ensures that the current research is embedded into the curricula. More information about faculty research projects can be found online (

Faculty currently affiliated with SODA include Masooda Bashir, Catherine Blake, Peter Darch, Jana Diesner, Stephen Downie, David Dubin, Miles Efron, Jon Gant, Brant Houston, Bertram Ludäscher, Jerome McDonough, Victoria Stodden, Vetle Torvik, and Michael Twidale. Their research interests include data analytics, information retrieval, knowledge discovery, information and communication technologies (ICTs), text and data mining, bibliometrics, natural language processing, social network analysis, and knowledge discovery and how such methods can be applied in the sciences, humanities, government, and society.

What funding opportunities are available?
Assistantships at both the master's and doctoral level are available through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Awards are made to outstanding students who apply to the program. SODA faculty also work on grants funded by the National Science Foundation, Mellon, McCormick and Sloan Foundations, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Google, which may include student support (see

What career paths might the SODA program provide?
At the MS level the SODA program prepares students for emerging leadership roles in academe, industry and government. At the doctoral level SODA prepares independent researchers who engage with important and challenging information problems.

Why study at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS)?
GSLIS is a professional school that has been training leaders in information and library science for more than a century and has been consistently ranked #1 by the U.S. News and World Report. The SODA specialization is situated within the Center for Informatics Research in Science and Scholarship (CIRSS), which also houses the first LIS Data Curation Specialization and runs weekly eResearch Roundtable and CIRSS seminars.

Are the courses available via Leep?

How do I find out more?

  • General questions about the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) and questions about admissions should be directed to gslis [at] illinois [dot] edu or 1(800) 982-0914.
  • Questions about the SODA education program can be directed to mbedward [at] illinos [dot] edu (Meg Edwards).
  • For information about related research activities, visit

How do I apply?

Please see the Admissions section of our website for specific application requirements, deadlines, and forms for each program.

Declaration Form

Currently enrolled GSLIS students wishing to complete the specialization must submit an online declaration form. Upon successful completion of the required courses, a letter of acknowledgment will be mailed to you.