Humanities Information Practices


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This report uses six case studies to understand how researchers in the humanities find, access, use and share information. Centred around users of a resource, members of a department or participants within a research field, each case presents several viewpoints on the changing nature of research.

It is clear that new information behaviours are developing. Researchers make increasing use of digital resources, and are collaborating in more open configurations. However, some challenges remain, and researchers are not always able to make the most of the new tools that are available to them.

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Humanities Information Practices

  1. 1. TITLE<br />Reinventing research?<br />Information practices in the humanities<br />Eric T. Meyer & Monica Bulger, Oxford Internet Institute<br />
  2. 2. The Case Studies<br />
  3. 3. Reconfiguring Resources<br />
  4. 4. “<br />Old Bailey Online hasn’t replaced anything for me or displaced anything for me, but it is part of this general transformation of how I do what I do.<br />
  5. 5. “<br />The amount of time I now spend doing the very mechanical, laborious, time-consuming work is much smaller.You can now do things in 5 seconds which it took you 3 months to do a few years ago. <br />
  6. 6. Enhanced vision<br />
  7. 7. Cambridge polyphonic manuscript, 13th C.Source: The Digital Image Archive of Medieval Music (DIAMM)<br />Graduale Triplex, 6/7th C.<br />Florence polyphonic manuscript, 13th C.<br />Source: TecaDigitaleRicerca (TECA)<br />
  8. 8. Reconstructing the materiality of digital objects<br />binder's knife<br />colours<br />S: That'a just a – it's not a note<br />H: I think it's part of the decoration isn't it?<br /> I mean the colours would have been really vivid<br /> wouldn't they - blues and greens, yellows<br />S: It's quite deteriorated<br />H: I'm guessing this is a sort of slice in the – <br /> through the parchment isn't it?<br />S: Yeah<br />H: It's showing white there<br />S: Goodness only knows how it got there<br />H: These are binding fragments. They've <br /> been man-handled into the binding of <br /> another book and presumably a <br /> binder's knife has sliced through the pages.<br /> It's lucky in a way it’s only sliced through the parchment<br />note or decoration?<br />
  9. 9. Working Together, Apart<br />
  10. 10. Goal: create online humanities collaboratory: cultivate collaboration, share digital resources, develop analysis tools<br />
  11. 11. Context of collaboration: knowledge sharing<br />Materials under study affect practice<br />Maintain and enhance traditional methods while innovating<br />
  12. 12. Shared willingness to:experiment with technologies<br />Frequently work beyond comfort zone<br />Expertise sharing: confident in own contribution, willingness to trust others’ expertise<br />
  13. 13. Social life of research<br />
  14. 14. “<br />Philosophy is done in conversation. <br />
  15. 15. Transformations in Use<br />
  16. 16. “<br />It’s a huge change. You can do things much more quickly, read much more widely, find connections…it’s very, very important. <br />
  17. 17. “<br />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 microfilm.<br />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.<br />
  18. 18. “<br />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. <br />
  19. 19. “<br />Asking new questions?<br />
  20. 20. “<br />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 greater.<br />
  21. 21. “<br />What might take you several months if not years of research, you could do in hours, days, a week. So I think that means thatit makes the nature of your research differentbecause 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 time. <br />
  22. 22. “<br />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 imagine.<br />
  23. 23. “<br />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<br />
  24. 24. Digital as a dirty word<br />“<br />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<br />
  25. 25. Complexity Continuum<br />
  26. 26. Complexity Continuum<br />
  27. 27. Complexity Continuum<br />
  28. 28. Peer support<br />Technical support<br />Recommendations<br />Data linking<br />Citation consistency for digital resources<br />Reliable and sustainable structures<br />Reward systems<br />Professional endorsement of <br /> the value of digital strategies<br />
  29. 29. TITLE<br />Reinventing research?<br />Information practices in the humanities<br />Project partners<br />
  30. 30. TITLE<br />