What makes a good data scientist?

Roger Peng

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.