What makes a good data scientist?

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Apparently, New Year's Eve is not a popular day to come to the office as it seems I'm the only one here. No matter, it just means I can blast Mahler 3 (Bernstein, NY Phil, 1980s recording) louder than I normally would.

Today's post is inspired by this latest article in the NYT about big data. The article for the most part describes a conference that happened at MIT recently on the topic of big data. Towards the end of the article, it is noted that one of the participants (Rachel Schutt) was asked what makes a good data scientist.

Obviously, she replied, the requirements include computer science and math skills, but you also want someone who has a deep, wide-ranging curiosity, is innovative and is guided by experience as well as data.

“I don’t worship the machine,” she said.

I think I agree, but I would have put it a different way. Mostly, I think what makes a good data scientist is the same thing that makes you a good [insert field here] scientist. In other words, a good data scientist is a good scientist.

  • Link Tran

    Well said Roger. I constantly come across "data" scientists who are more concerned with pushing their own agenda than conducting good science. It's unfortunate too since their errors normally result in a recession of the field.

  • Link Tran

    also, I think the link to the NYT article you referenced is dead. I can't seem to access the page. I found the article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/30/technology/big-data-is-great-but-dont-forget-intuition.html?_r=0

  • Pouria

    Great choice of music!

  • http://twitter.com/spencerfleury Spencer Fleury

    I completely agree. What makes good science in one discipline almost always makes good science in other disciplines. After all, what is science but the application of the scientific method in an effort to better understand the various corners of our world?

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