LIBRARY INSIDER: Getting engaged with data for Love Data Week


“Do you have this every week?” the woman asked, opening a window on her laptop to tweak a data visualization in Excel.

“No,” replied Melissa Ratajeski, coordinator of data services at the Health Sciences Library System (HSLS) and host of the morning’s data drop-in session, “but you can contact us anytime for help with your data.”

She had consulted with three researchers that morning, on subjects ranging from coding focus-group interviews to creating data plots, and planned to follow up with more support by email.

That Friday’s drop-in session was the culminating activity of Love Data Week, an annual celebration of research data stewardship during Valentine’s Day week that the Health Sciences Library System observed this year with five days of data-focused classes and events.

Workshop titles included “Introduction to Tableau for Data Visualization,” a hands-on exploration of the Pitt-licensed data visualization tool; “Introduction to the Pitt Data Catalog,” a tour through HSLS’s new data-sharing platform; and “Future-Proof Your Data: Planning for Reuse,” a step-by-step guide to organizing and preserving research data for the long term. On Thursday, a short lecture on best practices for naming files drew more than a dozen attendees with free coffee, the eponymous feature of HSLS’s new Coffee Break series of 30-minute classes.

Although Love Data Week 2019 has now ended, showing data some affection is a year-round pursuit at the library. HSLS offers data classes frequently, including “Crafting a Data Management Plan” on Feb. 25 and “Data Sharing” on March 8.

Until March 15, researchers (including students) who tell Data Services about their experience sharing their research data — positive or otherwise — via an online questionnaire will be entered into a random drawing for a gift card. Data Services is always interested in hearing about researchers’ needs related to making data openly available, reusing data or other data-related topics. The team works with researchers from across the health sciences, including those whose data needs arise from interdisciplinary or inter-institutional collaboration.

Love Data Week (formerly Love Your Data Week) began in 2016 as a grassroots effort among librarians, data specialists and archivists to raise awareness of simple steps anyone could take to improve and safeguard their research data. Thanks in large part to social media hashtags like #lovedata2019, this year’s campaign included more than 60 participating institutions around the globe.

To learn more about research data classes and trainings, visit the Data Services website. To request a personalized workshop, lab meeting visit or consultation, or to ask any question about data in the health sciences, email the Data Services team at

Helenmary Sheridan is the data services librarian at the Health Sciences Library System.