How to Become a Citizen Data Scientist

Meet Sarah. She’s a marketing analyst at a F100 tech company where she’s responsible for developing digital ad campaigns, monitoring their success, and reporting out on performance to senior leadership on a weekly (or sometimes daily) basis. 

However, it’s a tedious process. Her reports are built in spreadsheets and she’s reliant on IT to run them every week (along with every other department), which requires her to put in a ticket request every time.

Sound familiar?   

While Sarah has some experience with data — she knows some probabilistic stats and sampling methods along with data visualization for her presentations — she knows she is not even close to wrangling and prepping all of the different sources of data to achieve actionable insights that can really impact her organization.

Not to mention, she’s gunning for a promotion so she pulls late nights multiple times a week when she could really use a vacation, but no one knows the process quite like her to provide the support needed while she’s gone. 

Sarah needs to make the leap from simple ad-hoc reports into advanced analytics – taking her knowledge and influence across her organization to the next level. Maybe you do, too. 

Get ready to become the Citizen Data Scientist of every company’s dreams.

 

What is a Citizen Data Scientist?

Coined by Gartner, the analyst firm defines a Citizen Data Scientist as "a person who creates or generates models that leverage predictive or prescriptive analytics but whose primary job function is outside of the field of statistics and analytics."

The term “citizen” refers to an individual without formal training in data science, and “data scientist” acknowledges they have the practical knowledge to be successful. It’s not a title, per say. It’s an empowered superuser with advanced analytical skills, bridging the gap between mainstream self-service data discovery by business users and the advanced analytics techniques of data scientists. 
 

Why are Citizen Data Scientists Important?

The Gartner report, Citizen Data Science Augments Data Discovery and Simplifies Data Science, states that, “the number of Citizen Data Scientists will grow five times faster than the number of highly skilled data scientists.”

Delivering high-value analytics is key to the future contributions of analysts. Analysts that embrace the evolution of becoming a citizen data scientist will have a major competitive advantage, and will be the driving force in delivering transformation change within their organizations. 

“There aren’t enough expert data scientists to meet data science and machine learning demands, hence the emergence of citizen data scientists. Data and analytics leaders must empower “citizens” to scale efforts, or risk failure to secure data science as a core competency.” 

– Gartner, Maximize the Value of Your Data Science Efforts by Empowering Citizen Data Scientists

What does a citizen data scientist look like?

  • Experimenter
  • Collaborator
  • Domain expert
  • Ability to “think outside the box”
  • Critical thinker
  • Advocate for change
  • Superuser
  • Has an understanding of overarching company goals and direction

Citizen data science is all about increasing the accessibility of data analytics to non-data scientists.

Citizen Data Scientist Resources

Whether you're like Sarah and dipping your toes in or ready to jump into an online course, check out these top resources to help you sharpen your data science skills.
 

Start with a data science newsletter (or two or three)

Stay on top of the latest news, techniques, and technologies in data science with a newsletter. These are a great and easy way to learn about new concepts, resources, tech talks, networking opportunities, and even job openings. Find our top pick newsletters below:

  • Data Science Weekly: This is a don’t miss newsletter filled with anything and everything data science. It’s packed full of information and resources.
  • Data Machina: If you’re ready for some data science geekery, this newsletter is for you. Get a weekly digest of machine learning curiosities.
  • Data is Plural: Explore interesting, useful, and curious data sets and data-driven projects with this newsletter.
  • Towards Data Science: A Medium publication sharing concepts, ideas, and codes.
  • KDNuggets: Dive into all things AI, Analytics, Big Data, Data Mining, Data Science, and Machine Learning. We're talking about everything from op-eds to courses, jobs, and the latest news and events.
     

Add these channels to your YouTube playlist

You really can learn anything on YouTube, including data science, programming, machine learning, AI, and more. And the best part is it’s all free. Find our top pick channels below:

  • Sentdex: This YouTuber has great python programming tutorials that span everything from machine learning to data analysis to game development and more.
  • StatQuest: Josh Starmer makes scary topics like stats, machine learning, and data science a lot less scary. Stick with Josh — major topics will become much easier to understand.
  • David Langer: If you’re ready to learn about the complete data mining project lifecycle, this channel is for you. David covers data wrangling, data exploration, data cleaning, data visualization, data analysis, feature engineering, and machine learning.

 

Get hands on with real data 

Work on real problems with access to real data sets through open data and build projects to add to your portfolio. Governments, independent organizations, and agencies are sharing their data and making it open for anyone to access, use, and share. Find our top open data sources below:

  • Google Dataset Search: Looking for a specific type of data? Google has your back. Their dataset search tool can help you easily find online data that is freely available for use.
  • World Bank Open Data: Get data on different countries around the world, including microdata, time series statistics, and geospatial data.
  • Registry of Open Data from AWS: Explore datasets available through AWS resources. Find interesting datasets from Facebook Data for Good, NOAA Big Data Program, NASA Space Art Agreement, and more.
     

Join the Alteryx Community

Alteryx is home to the most engaged community in the industry that is based on fun, real world analytics challenges that also test users as they develop analytics prowess. See how to get connected:

  • Alteryx Community: Create a free account and access Alteryx resources to help you upskill. There are a variety of learning pathways, including group solving weekly challenges for real world analytics, interactive lessons, and free Alteryx certifications.
  • The Data Science Portal brings together great data science content from Academy, blogs, podcasts, and discussions.
  • Virtual Solution Center (VSC): Stuck on a problem? Our VSC allows anyone to connect with Alteryx solution experts in real-time to solve analytic challenges.

Advancing Data and Analytic Potential Together (ADAPT) Program: If your employment has been impacted by COVID-19, explore our free program and get access to data science and analytics learning courses. The ADAPT Program will equip you with the skills you need to enter a desirable field or make strides in your current career path.annels below:

  • Sentdex: This YouTuber has great python programming tutorials that span everything from machine learning to data analysis to game development and more.
  • StatQuest: Josh Starmer makes scary topics like stats, machine learning, and data science a lot less scary. Stick with Josh — major topics will become much easier to understand.
  • David Langer: If you’re ready to learn about the complete data mining project lifecycle, this channel is for you. David covers data wrangling, data exploration, data cleaning, data visualization, data analysis, feature engineering, and machine learning.
     

If you’re not taking a MOOC (Massive open online course), you’re missing out

Online courses are a great way to put structure into your learning. While you might have to pay a small fee for a certification, these courses are often equipped with all sorts of resources including videos, homework, hands-on projects and assessments, and exams. Find our top pick MOOCs below:

Make learning fun (and competitive)

Join a data science hackathon, competition, or challenge and compete with other data scientists. This is a great way to practice and learn from others, while still having fun. Find our top pick challenge sites below:

  • Kaggle: Connect with other data scientists around the world and compete in solving real-world problems. With over 536,000 active members from 194 countries and close to 150,000 submissions per month, there’s a lot to explore, learn, and do on this site.
  • Hackerearth: Hackerearth has held over 1,000 hackathons and 10,000 coding challenges. Join this community to practice, grow your skills, and compete.
  • TopCoder: Compete in three types of data science challenges, including large scale algorithms, coding, and ideation.
  • Looking to use data for good? Join a short- or long-term analytics or data 

Ready for More?

READ

In “A Radical Guide to Data Analytics Mastery,” you’ll discover how easy it is to switch to a modern analytics approach. 

WATCH

See how citizen data scientists are changing the analytics industry in this on-demand webinar. 

LEARN

Unleash your inner citizen data scientist. Hear one analyst speak about his experience and success