Week 3. Research Methods Contents

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Scanning and the Anatomy of Digital Files

Date: October 15 Location: Portland 00.27 Time: 2pm-6pm

Required Reading

JISC Digital Media [1]for advice on how to create, use and manage digital media.

The Handbook on the Preservation of Web Resources [2]: Commissioned by the JISC from UKOLN and ULCC's Digital Archives is full of useful information, including strategies which help you decide what to keep, how to keep it and how to ensure ongoing access to it for future generations.


In this session we turn our attention to electronic research resources and explore two key questions:

  • How can resources be digitised?
  • What is the best way to do it?

Learning outcomes

By the end of this session you will be able to:

  • Decide when to use a scanner or camera to digitise an object.
  • Choose appropriate file types, sizes and resolution.
  • Explain the relationships between "file size", "compression"and "image size".
  • Employ appropriate file naming conventions.
  • Calibrate a scanner and use it to scan print and transparent media.

Workshop practicals

You will be introduced to the history of scanning, the basic mechanism of scanners and the principles of effective scanning through a series of practical demonstrations and hands on activities.

Throughout the session, Stuart Wade will be on hand to discuss technical details, give advice and answer questions. At the end of the session, you will be given time to do the exercise, and Stuart will give you feedback, including telling you if your digital project would have passed or failed at the MA level.

Activity: Digitising resources

Pair up with someone and use your wiki pages to document your activity:

You have two piles of objects to be digitised, an easy pile and a hard pile. You must take two items, one from EACH pile.

Digitise both objects, and produce two files from each object (you'll have then four files total in the end):

  • One suitable for archiving/printing
  • One suitable for web use

Files need to be named to identify:

  • who scanned them
  • title of the image
  • the intended use of the file

You will need to consult as a whole group to confirm your naming conventions.

Save your images meant for the web to your wiki pages and label them. Save your files for archiving/printing to a server, the name of which will be given to you on the day.

Stuart will provide each of you with feedback on this exercise. Although it does NOT count in your final marks for this module, Stuart will give you an indication of whether your digital work would pass or fail at the MA level.

Reflections on this activity

Please answer the following questions on your wiki, before submitting the work.

How appropriate is your choice of file format, resolution and size?

What do you need to take into account when making these decisions?

What does "size" mean in relation to a digital image?

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