Tartan Datascapes is a blog featuring snapshots of the data landscape across the entire Carnegie Mellon University campus, including students, staff, and faculty from the College of Fine Arts to the School of Computer Science. Each installment of Tartan Datascapes features an individual researcher or research team, highlighting how their work contributes to the broader datascapes of CMU, as well as special features on tools and educational opportunities at CMU Libraries to support research data management. Our students, staff, and faculty from across the spectrum of domains are doing amazing work with data at our institution, and Tartan Datascapes is a great place to read about this work!

Featured with each blog are quick tips for managing your data through research data management (RDM) techniques, and information on how the University Libraries can assist you with your myriad data needs through workshops, outreach, and consultations!

For more information about Tartan Datascapes or to request a feature of your research, teaching, or coursework, please contact Dr. Hannah Gunderman, Research Data Management Consultant, at

“There’s a Place Where Everyone Can be Happy”: Code4Lib 2020 in Pittsburgh

Image description: a laptop computer is sitting open on a white table with code on the screen.

Each day in my role here at CMU Libraries, I’m steeped in everything data. I really enjoy getting to teach other people data skills while also honing my own skills in the process! However, it hasn’t always been easy. In fact, for a long time, I’ve always found it quite intimidating to learn new data and technology skills. Part of that intimidation was never feeling like I fit in with data science and technologist communities.

Lobsters and Crème Brûlée French Toast: Data Management Plans in DMPTool

A plate of french toast covered in blueberries, alongside a mug of coffee.

Full-disclosure to my readers: I am writing this post in the midst of a multi-day migraine, but I’ve got a cup of oolong tea with a healthy dose of caffeine and I’m excited to be sitting down to write to you all about something that I really love: data management plans (hereafter DMPs). Yeah, okay - at first glace you might read that and say, "Really? You love DMPs?" But hear me out!

Fall 2020 Virtual Data-Themed Workshops at CMU Libraries

Our fall 2020 semester has officially started, and wherever you are joining us from, we are glad you are here! I am really happy to share that we have a full lineup of virtual workshops for the upcoming semester, many of which have a distinct Tartan Datascapes flavor! What's the benefit of attending a Libraries workshop? It's a great chance to learn some new skills in a short amount of time, and can be an excellent supplement to your teaching/learning/research/professional development.

Transformative Research Experiences in the Pre-College Program in Computational Biology

A group of students from the Pre-College Program in Computational Biology.

Think back to your high school biology class: did you enjoy it? Were there things about it that stressed you out? Speaking for myself, as a high school student in Wyoming, we had a field-based biology class where we would collect samples from various ecosystems around our town and bring them back to our lab to process and write reports on our findings. I absolutely loved every bit of that experience, but I found that I struggled with the quantitative side of the class.

Data is Like Totally Awesome, Fer Shur!

Have you ever watched a movie and thought of it as data? Hopefully, if you are a long-term reader of this blog, you have learned that almost anything can be data, depending on how you conceptualize it and interact with it. For those who have been following Tartan Datascapes this summer, you’ve likely noticed that I’ve delved deeply into how data presents itself in popular culture, and as a result, how popular culture can allow us to learn more about data.

LabArchives: Electronic Research Notebook Supporting Remote Research and Teaching

Who else here gets inordinately excited over notebooks? Any time I walk into a bookstore or stationary store, I immediately head to the notebooks. While I’m not sure I’ve ever actually filled up an entire notebook, a quick walk around my house will reveal dozens of notebooks with drawings, poems, meeting notes, photographs glued to the pages, recipe clippings, and a variety of other things. Paper notebooks are wonderful! But, the focus of today’s Tartan Datascapes post is on a situation where paper notebooks may not be the best thing for you: in your research environments.

CMU Librarians Explore Metadata in Animal Crossing: New Horizons

Hello Datascapers! In today’s Tartan Datascapes, I have the privilege of collaborating with Angelina (hereafter Lina) Spotts, our Metadata Specialist at CMU Libraries, to provide what I believe is the most creative, unique installment of the blog since its inception in September 2019! Now, Lina and I have quite a bit in common. We both enjoy talking about data management. We both like using examples from popular culture to teach technical concepts.