Studying People Who Can Talk Back
Social Science Insights into the Humanities
Dr Eric T. Meyer
Research Fellow & DPhil Programme Director
Oxford University Summer School, 08 July 2013
Examining the hyphen
25 Recommendations, including:
1. Plan ahead to measure impact
4. Make your resource easy to find
9. Adopt Cool URIs
10. Provide automatic citations that are easy to copy or download
12. Create training materials using examples from real research
15. APIs are the future
SECT: Sustaining the EEBO-TCP
Corpus in Transition
Siefring, J. & Meyer, E.T. (2013). Sustaining the EEBO-TCP Corpus in
Transition: Report on the TIDSR Benchmarking Study. London: JISC.
Available online: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2236202
When accessing EEBO-TCP, which of the
following interfaces have you used?
0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 45%
JISC’s Historic Books
University of Michigan’s EEBO-TCP
University of Oxford’s EEBO-TCP
Publications related to Early
English Books Online
Google Scholar 3,450
Scopus Theses & Dissertations 1,875
ProQuest Dissertations & Theses 458
 Google Scholar search term: "eebo-tcp" OR "eebo tcp" OR eebo OR "early english books online"
 JSTOR search term: eebo-tcp OR "eebo tcp" OR eebo OR "early english books online" in full-text, including all content
 Scopus search term: ALL("eebo-tcp" OR "eebo tcp" OR eebo OR "early english books online")
 ProQuest Dissertations & Theses: The Humanities and Social Sciences Collection search term: "eebo-tcp" OR "eebo tcp" OR eebo OR "early english books online" in full-text
How do you prefer to learn to use digital resources?
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90%100%
By attending training sessions
Reading research papers that have used them
Being shown uses in specific research
Help pages and documentation
Learning about them from peers
Exploring them yourself
Bulger, M., Meyer, E.T., de la Flor, G., Terras, M., Wyatt, S., Jirotka, M., Eccles, K., Madsen, C.
It’s a huge change. You can do things much
more quickly, read much more widely,
find connections…it’s very, very important.
With something like the Burney Collection, 5
years ago for writing an article I would need to
review the newspapers, I would have gone
into the British Library and done it on
20 years ago, I would have gone into the
British Library and done it with the actual
paper in front of me. Now I sit at home
and I do a keyword search.
I get pretty much everything I need by way of
primary sources now from the web. For
primary sources, I’ve now got more
material than I will need probably for
the rest of my lifetime.
Cambridge polyphonic manuscript, 13th C.
Source: The Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (DIAMM)
Florence polyphonic manuscript, 13th C.
Source: Teca Digitale Ricerca (TECA)
Graduale Triplex, 6/7th C.
S: That'a just a – it's not a note
H: I think it's part of the decoration isn't it?
I mean the colours would have been really vivid
wouldn't they - blues and greens, yellows
S: It's quite deteriorated
H: I'm guessing this is a sort of slice in the –
through the parchment isn't it?
H: It's showing white there
S: Goodness only knows how it got there
H: These are binding fragments. They've
been man-handled into the binding of
another book and presumably a
binder's knife has sliced through the pages.
It's lucky in a way it’s only sliced through the
note or decoration?
Reconstructing the materiality of digital objects
I’m not sure all of this raises the quality of
anybody’s work. I think it would be quite daft
to pretend that all of this makes us better
scholars, or makes our books or papers of higher
quality. I don’t know if that is true by any means,
but it certainly makes it easier and I suppose
makes the quantity of stuff that you can produce
What might take you several months if not years
of research, you could do in hours, days, a week.
So I think that means that it makes the nature
of your research different because it allows
you quantitative information much more quickly,
which then allows you to maybe think
about how you might use that information
differently, because you’ve got so much more
My greatest frustration in life is that we can now
answer all the questions we had in 1980 faster,
much, much faster. And we can get around to
publishing them much, much more quickly. But
what we haven’t yet done is develop the
new questions and the new paradigms
that should be possible, and that we as
imaginative scholars should be able to
It also puts a much higher premium on creative
use of the resources. There’s no reason not to be
creative. There’s no excuse not to get it just right.
And so it’s like how word processing
changed the way we write. When you don’t
have to physically retype each page, you make a
lot more changes, and so there’s no excuse not to
have better writing
(no. of words)
+ page-by-page) Contributors
Book Form Annotation:
162000 904 1 (22)
Wiki: Against the
Comparison of book and wiki annotation efforts
Source: Schroeder, R., & Besten, M. D. (2008). Literary Sleuths Online: e-Research collaboration on the Pynchon Wiki.
Information, Communication & Society, 11(2), 167 - 187.
Weisenburger vs. the Wiki on Pynchon
Digital Transformations of
Browsing and Searching: Humanities
Visit the library
Browse library materials online
Search library materials online
Browse printed journals
Browse online journals
Consult peers and experts
Source: Bulger, M., Meyer, E.T., de la Flor, G., Terras, M., Wyatt, S., Jirotka, M., Eccles, K., Madsen, C. (2011). Reinventing Research? Information practices
in the humanities. London: RIN. Online: http://www.rin.ac.uk/humanities-case-studies
Browsing and Searching: Physical Sciences
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90%
Browsing or reading online journals
Peers or experts
Searching databases (e.g. Web of Science, arXiv)
Browsing databases (e.g. Web of Science, arXiv)
Browsing library materials online
Browsing or reading print journals
Keyword searches of journals
Web 2.0 services
Keyword searches of library materials
Browsing library materials in person
Social network sites n=76
Source: Meyer, E.T., Bulger, M., Kyriakidou-Zacharoudiou, A., Power, L., Williams, P., Venters, W., Terras, M., Wyatt, S. (2011). Collaborative yet Independent:
Information Practices in the Physical Sciences. London: RIN and the Institute of Physics. Online: http://www.iop.org/publications/iop/2012/page_53560.html
I get pretty much everything I need by
way of primary sources now from the
web. For primary sources, I’ve now got
more material than I will need probably
for the rest of my lifetime.
Digital as a dirty word
I do feel pressure to work more with originals
than with the digital images, but for the most
part I do feel like I get more out of using these
images on my computer. But there’s a certain
pressure that that’s not what top scholars do
because that’s not what top scholars did
25 years ago
0% 20% 40% 60% 80% 100%
Original version Original + URL Online version Other
Have you ever published a piece
based on your work in this
If so, how did you cite the collection?
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100%
Online version only Print + URL Print + [online] (no URL) Print only Other
How do (or would) you cite materials from EEBO-TCP?
Researchers, n=172; Teaching students, n=97
Whose portrait is on the U.S. 100 dollar bill?
From Information to Analysis Skills
OII master’s students Alexander Furnas and Devin Gaffney saw a large spike in
then-US presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Twitter followers, and decided to
look at the new followers, which turned out to be Twitter-bots:
Furnas, A. and Gaffney, D. (2012). ‘Statistical Probability That Mitt Romney's New Twitter Followers Are Just Normal Users: 0%’. The Atlantic, July 31,
http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/07/statistical-probability-that-mitt-romneys-new-twitter-followers-are-just-normal-users-0/260539/ (accessed August 31, 2012).
With support from:
Digital Transformations of Research
Dr Eric T. Meyer
Research Fellow & DPhil Programme Director
With Ralph Schroeder, Forthcoming 2013