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“Data Scientist” catches “Statistician”, surpasses “Data Miner”


The rapidly rising term "Data Scientist" caught up with "Statistician" and surpassed "Data Miner" on Google Trends. However, Statistics remains a lot more popular than "Data Science", which begs the question: What do Data Scientists do? Clearly, it is not Data Science.



By Gregory Piatetsky, Dec 22, 2013.c comments

A recent blog on Flowing Data: Data scientist surpasses statistician on Google Trends prompted me to do a little further investigation.

This was especially relevant in light of the intense debate (over 250 comments) raging on LinkedIn Group Advanced BA, DM and PM, prompted by my post Why statistical community is disconnected from Big Data and how to fix it.

The term "data scientist" started to rise rapidly around 2011 and almost caught up with "statistician". Searches for "data scientist" surpassed the searches for "data miner" in 2012. The chart below shows Google Trends for "Statistician", "Data Scientist", and "Data Miner" from Jan 2008 to Dec 2013.

Google Trends, statistician, data scientist, data miner

Note: Google Trends is not case sensitive, so the trend for "Data Scientist" will be the same as for "data scientist". However, the search for Data Scientist (no quotes) will get somewhat more results than the search for "Data Scientist" (with quotes), since it will also find related, but perhaps not relevant terms.

We also checked Indeed.com job trends, and we also see "Data Scientist" catching up with Statistician. "Data Miner" is a lot less popular job title than its Google Trends popularity suggests. Note also a surprising drop for both "Data Scientist" and "Statistician" towards the end of 2013 - it is a beginning of a "Big Data" hype evaporating, or perhaps another rebranding?

Indeed Job Trends for Statistician, Data Scientist, Data Miner

However, it is too early for data scientists to gloat, since Google Trends searches for "Statistics" greatly exceed those for "Data Science" (which is practically at zero level in the chart below).

Google Trends for Statistics and Data Science

Which leads us to a question:

What do people think that "Data Scientists" actually do?
The evidence suggests it is not "Data Science".


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