Digital scholarship

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Acknowledgement: Computer Show © Getty Images.

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Digital Scholarship is a relatively new field that encompasses the full range of scholarly activities that are being transformed by new digital technologies including digital copyright, digital curation and preservation, digital repositories, digital tools for resource discovery and analysis, electronic publishing, and digital scholarly communication. It’s in part about creating new digital tools, partly about using those tools to create new digital resources, partly about using these new digital resources to develop new insights and knowledge and partly about communicating the results to other scholars. The American Council of Learned Societies Commission on Cyberinfrastructure for the Humanities & Social Sciences has a succinct definition here. Digital scholarship therefore is not about any particular domain or subject, it spans disciplines and indeed it both facilitates interdisciplinary research and benefits from interdisciplinary collaboration. This session is a brief introduction to some of the topics covered by Digital Scholarship most relevant to your own studies.

Learning outcomes

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

  • Explain the relative advantages and disadvantages of digital information browsing and searching strategies.
  • Use advanced digital searching techniques to find information quickly and accurately.

Digital Scholarship

These slides will be presented in class as a lecture to kick off this topic.File:DigitalScholarship.ppt

In preparation for this session you were asked to read the Digital Humanities Manifesto (version 2) File:ManifestoDigitalHumanities V2.pdf and come to the session prepared to discuss what you think about the ideas in the manifesto. What do they mean for photographic history and how might they affect you personally? The origins of the manifesto are explained here.

Gareth Dakin's comments on the manifesto

What is digital humanities?

Within the manifesto 'digital humanities' is described as an 'array of convergent practices', where print is not the way in which knowledge is spread as much anymore, but 'absorbed' into multimedia arrangements of the knowledge.

How might it affect me?

Without an open mind when it comes to research we could find research quite difficult, the world has been radically changing for a while now and so is humanities it seems, everybody, not just academics and university students, can learn just as much these days, but it is up to us as students and academics to dig that little bit deeper and utilise all forms of research tools at our disposal, as the manifesto describes,' we are advocating for a neo- or post print model, where print becomes embedded within a multiplicity of media practices and forms of knowledge production'.

Do I agree with the manifesto?

I do agree with the manifesto, it's easy to sometimes 'stick to what you know', not a lot of people like change but in order to get the most out of the knowledge the world has to give we need to recognise and utilise these brand new tools we now have that will help increase our learning and in turn our teaching. We must though, not forget the origins of this knowledge and how it was found originally, but instead just update it's format so we too can move in time with the world around us.

Short piece of text...

"Wikipedia wasn't invented at/as a university. But its fast on the way to becoming one (Wikiversity)"

I chose this piece of text because so far through my student life Wikipedia is a term that when connected to research is very much frowned upon, especially in technology, and rightly so in many ways. But for me personally , used in the correct manner, it's usually the first port of call on a blank canvas. From it I can start to explore questions I may not have thought of, given me new leads and show up sources where I may never have thought to have looked. It's very true that it's not a very credible source to link straight from but the paths it creates, questions that arise from it and leads it produces to become better at researching an object can definitely benefit me while on the MA course here.

How do you use digital resources?

What photohistory Web sites do you use? Why these ones?

How could you find other useful sites? How do you usually find stuff on the Web?

Where do you store information about useful resources?

How do you share information about useful resources?

Post your thoughts on your personal wiki page and put a link to them here.

Finding digital information

The simplest level of digital scholarship entails finding digital information quickly and effectively. Google is by now ubiquitous (although there are many more search engines). Most casual searchers type in one or two words to Google and browse the first 10 or so hits for something relevant. In this exercise you are going to use some of the more advanced features of Google to conduct more efficent searches.

Paul Hill was Professor of Photography and leader of the MA Photography programme at De Montfort university until his retirement in 2010. Imagine you are researching him for a new Photography book. Search the Web for biographical information about Paul and use it to create a Wiki page that includes a picture, career details, publications, honours and awards. Post your wiki page link here.

How many Web sites mention Paul? How did you find them? Did you find a lot of sites about other Paul Hills? How could you filter out just the most relevant sites? There are some tricks you can use to narrow down searches using Google:

1) Add more words to your search.

2) Put double quotes around any "exact phrases" that you would like Google to search for, or use the Advanced Search page.

3) Put a plus sign between any words to force Google to find both of them in any page/document.

4) Put a minus sign directly in front of any words that you would like Google to leave out of the search.

5) Restrict it to "UK only", "US only", "Germany only" if the search information is nationally oriented.

There is a really good set of tips about Google search operators at here.

Now try using these techniques (either on their own or in combination) to improve your search. Keep a log of your attempts noting how many results you get each time.

Searching vs browsing

Take a look at the Exhibitions of the Royal Photographic Society Web site Imagine you are researching Alvin Langdon Coburn and want to use the ERPS site to find any references to his work and his involvement with the RPS. How many references can you find? How did you find them?

Post your answers to your personal notes pages and paste a link to them here:

You are interested in scientific photography in the 20th century and want to find exhibits of scientific interest which were awarded medals.

Post your answers to your personal notes pages and paste a link to them here:

You want to look at catalogue pictures of the photographs exhibited. How many catalogues contain pictures?

Post your answers to your personal notes pages and paste a link to them here:

How many of the pictures depict a donkey? How did you find them?

Post your answers to your personal notes pages and paste a link to them here:

There are two main ways of searching for digital information on the Web. One involves putting keywords into boxes (searching), the other involves clicking on links and moving from page to page (browsing). People have different preferences. Which you choose also depends on how familiar you are with the particular Website and the subject matter it deals with.

Further reading is a good place to get advice and information on the availability use of digital tools and methods for research and teaching in the arts and humanities and to join in discussion and events about digital scholarship.

A review of the advantages of research collaboration in the Humanites and links to useful online Humanities discussion lists, blogs and communities.

Follow this link to the PRDA Contents page to return to the module contents.

Back to the MA: Photographic History Main Page to return to the Course contents.