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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 (c.awre@hull.ac.uk), 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.   

 

Hull History Centre (our venue)

Hull History Centre (our venue)

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 800px-SteacieLibrarythe 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 (c.awre@hull.ac.uk), 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.

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 History DMT project* event, Thursday 12th December, Hull History Centre, 11:00 am-4:00 pm

As part of the History DMT project between the Institute of Historical Research, Department of History at the University of Hull, and the Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield, we will be running a series of workshops on the topic of managing data.  Here are the details for the first workshop.  Attendance is free and bursaries are available for travel costs.

800px-SteacieLibraryThe management of research data is often associated with scientific research: data flowing from technical equipment as the result of experimentation.  Data in a research context, though, covers many different types of raw material that can act as the basis for analysis.  This can include survey data, collections of facts or evidence, images, videos, interviews, statistics, etc.  In this digital age it is also easier to generate and collect this data than it has ever been, with readily available tools and storage options.

Increasingly, attention is being given to data management within the humanities, and history is no exception.  The UK Data Archive houses many historical datasets, and much historical research relies on gathering data together to carry out analysis.  Well-managed research data is being seen as a sign of good research practice, and having increased value as a research hull history centreoutput in its own right.

This event will explore the issues and benefits of research data management for history, highlight recent case studies, and introduce training materials being developed to assist history researchers in embedding data management as part of research practice.

To register for the event, please contact Chris Awre (c.awre@hull.ac.uk), indicating your name, Department and University, plus any dietary or other requirements you may have in attending this event.  Bursaries to assist with travel are available for PhD students and early career researchers – please indicate if you wish to apply for one of these in your registration.

For location details see the Hull History Centre webpage.

* The AHRC-funded History DMT (Data Management Training) project is arranging three workshops to address how research data management relates to, and can benefit, history research.  These will address different aspects of research data management and history, and the training materials being developed to support this.

Subsequent workshops will take place on 13th February in London, and 14th April in Sheffield.  Attendance at all three is recommended where feasible.

For more details about the History DMT project please see our previous blog post describing the project.

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(Shutterstock)

(Shutterstock)

Historians don’t often like to think about data management.  Indeed, it is almost considered an ugly word or a taboo.  Data Management gets in the way of the interesting stuff – the research, the learning.  Nevertheless, it is vital to the work that we do.  History is data.  It is the essential essence of the subject.  Yet, it is so easy to leave your folder system in a complete mess or not to consider issues of preservation or back-up until necessary (or until your hard drive dies on you!).  Stuff that you produce now, for current use is understandable, but 6 months down the line, a year?  Perhaps not so much.

It is for this reason that the Institute of Historical Research in partnership with the Department of History at the University of Hull and Sheffield, as well as the Humanities Research Institute (Sheffield), applied to the AHRC Collaborative Skills Development strand late last year, to undertake a project called History DMT.  The bid was successful and work began in February.

History DMT stands for Data Management Training and Guidance.  We seek to integrate best practice, good principles, and skills of research data management within the postgraduate curriculum and among early career historians through a series of specialist workshops at London, Hull, and Sheffield and through the development of a free online training course dedicated to the research data types that historians are most likely to come across in their research.

Various pathways will enable a hands-on approach to research data management that covers the many types of data which historians generate, as well as the means with which to share that data. These will cover:

  • Textual materials
  • Visual sources
  • Oral History
  • Statistical data

Over the coming months the History SPOT blog will contain various posts about this project as it progresses, so please keep an eye out.

Further Information

This is an AHRC-funded project, as part of the Collaborative Skills Development strand. History DMT is led by the Institute of Historical Research in collaboration with the Department of History, University of Hull and the Humanities Research Institute, University of Sheffield. The principal grant holder is Professor Matthew Davies (IHR), with Dr Matt Phillpott (IHR) acting as project manager. Chris Awre (Head of Information Management within Library and Learning Innovation, University of Hull) and John Nicholls (Hull) will lead at the University of Hull, and Michael Pidd (HRI Manager, University of Sheffield) and Sharon Howard (HRI, University of Sheffield), from the University of Sheffield.

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