On 12 December 2013 the University of Hull will be hosting a one day FREE workshop for History postgraduates and early career researchers to help you better manage your data. The event is called History and Data Management: necessary bedfellows? To sign up to this event email Chris Awre (firstname.lastname@example.org), indicating your name, Department and University, plus any dietary or other requirements you may have in attending this event. A number of bursaries are available to help with travel costs so please indicate if you are interested in one of these in your email. For full details about the workshop click here.
This is what Chris Awre from the University of Hull has to say about managing data.
The recent announcement of the first of three events on history research and data management being held by the AHRC-funded History DMT project offers the chance to understand to what extent these two, apparently disparate areas, are linked. Research data are more usually associated with scientific disciplines, computers and equipment churning out numbers that can be analysed in multifarious ways. This image may be stereotypical, if true, but also both hits and misses key points in appreciating the impact that research data has across all disciplines today.
The hit is in the use of computers to produce and store data. This is not a feature simply of science now, though. The field of digital humanities has highlighted the value of computing to non-scientific disciplines, and the ability to apply computing to research questions in these areas. Data centres like the UK Data Archive have long existed to capture the datasets produced, and have provided valuable resources for subsequent research by others. Whilst this type of research might have been a specialised niche at one point, computing capability now makes it far more straightforward for data to be compiled by any researcher. And if computing can be used in this way, the outcomes of that use, the data, will need managing.
The miss is in the definition of data. Data can be numbers, certainly, but it can also be many other types of material collected together to inform research analysis. The University of Leeds research data management web pages, whilst recognising the scientific origins of data management, describe well the breadth of what can be considered data. The materials gathered by historians, be they numbers, images, multimedia, textual or statistical, can clearly fit within this scope.
At the centre of discussing data management for historians though, is not the ‘data’ per se, but more importantly ensuring that any materials gathered, created, or observed by history researchers are well managed. This ensures they can support and inform the research effectively, and add to the body of knowledge that is generated through research overall. In raising the bar for managing data, it highlights the value that data has. Quite often data acts as the Cinderella to the publication that is based on the data; the advent of data publications (e.g., Journal of Open Archaeology Data) highlights this and provides an additional route for research dissemination.
The History DMT project and the forthcoming events are producing materials to assist with managing data when conducting history research. The AHRC are specifically targeting the work at postgraduate and early career researchers, and all are encouraged to consider how they manage data in their research, either through the events or generally. Come and join us to discuss and feed into the materials being produced, and ensure that history data gets the respect it deserves.
To register for the workshop please e-mail Chris Awre (email@example.com), indicating your name, Department and University, plus any dietary or other requirements you may have in attending this event. If you are interested in one of the bursaries please note this in your e-mail. For full details of the event check our previous blog post.