Monday, April 27 • 2:05pm - 3:30pm
Datalogical Narratives: Scholars' Tales of Research LIMITED

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Limited Capacity seats available

Join this round table for a conversation among historians who will share “datalogical narratives” about wrestling with digital archives. In some cases, scholars are bypassing structures set up by libraries and setting up their own datalogical systems to access, organize and create knowledge. Panelists will share tales of their research to illuminate the ways that digital collections, particularly of primary sources, may shape scholarship and research outcomes and the strategies that they use when working with these collections.

As scholar Marlene Manoff has noted, “database experience increasingly determines the nature of our connection to knowledge and history” and “commercial companies now own huge portions of the scholarly and historical record.” Yet, the practice of research in digital collections is an undertheorized area. What are the effects of digitization on research? Issues that historians and other scholars face when working in digital collections include understanding databases at the collection level, not simply at the level of documents; understanding the way that collections have been constructed; and being able to discover their provenance. Enormous databases can have a misleading appearance of exhaustiveness; but, what items are missing from these collections and what is not being represented? Additionally, access to digital collections is an increasingly important issue, both in terms of subscription access and access to their contents as data.

This panel explores some of the ways that historians are doing digital research now. These are not always the ways that database publishers and librarians have imagined and may take place outside of the universe of databases purchased by libraries. Scholars are blowing past the resources constructed by libraries and setting up their own systems to access, organize and create knowledge. They may spurn expensive curated databases not wanting to take on board the pre-digested histories that they contain. They may pay for access to digital collections that their libraries don't subscribe to. Historians are also responding to the significant barriers for access to subscription materials and to the underlying content as data with strategies and work arounds that may be unorthodox or even skirt the edges of intellectual property rules or licenses. Determined scholars get the materials they need by using workarounds for access and, if necessary, by taking the data out of the database and the library.

Panelists will address these questions:

How do researchers account for absences, compare sources, and adjust interpretations to compensate for biases, errors, and omissions in digital collections?

What information would they like to see publishers provide to researchers about their digital collections?

What should be done about the scholars' lack of access to key subscription databases of primary sources in their fields?

avatar for Eileen Clancy

Eileen Clancy

CUNY M.A. student in Digital Humanities
Eileen Clancy is a film and video archivist and is in the M.A. program in Liberal Studies/Digital Humanities at the CUNY Graduate Center. Clancy is Co-Project Director of Beyond Citation, a website that annotates digital research collections, particularly subscription databases... Read More →
avatar for Seth Denbo

Seth Denbo

Director of Scholarly Communication and Digital Initiatives, American Historical Association
Seth Denbo is the Director of Scholarly Communication and Digital Initiatives at the American Historical Association. He oversees the publication department of the AHA and is working to develop innovative digital projects to enhance the organization’s mission. He earned his PhD... Read More →
avatar for Maggie Greene

Maggie Greene

Assistant Professor, Montana State University
Maggie Greene is an Assistant Professor of History at Montana State University, Bozeman. She is a specialist in modern Chinese history, with particular emphasis on cultural histories of the People’s Republic of China. Her research has been supported by a Fulbright-Hays Doctoral... Read More →

Micki Kaufman

Micki  Kaufman  is a doctoral  student  in  U.S.  history  at  the  Graduate  Center  of the  City  University  of  New  York  (GC-­CUNY).  She  received  her  B.A.  in  U.S.  History  from  Columbia University  summa  cum  laude,  Phi  Beta  Kappa... Read More →
avatar for Lara Putnam

Lara Putnam

Professor of History, University of Pittsburgh
Lara Putnam is UCIS Research Professor and Chair of the Department of History at the University of Pittsburgh. She is the author of two scholarly monographs and more than twenty journal articles and book chapters, and is is past co-senior editor of the Hispanic American Historical... Read More →

Monday April 27, 2015 2:05pm - 3:30pm EDT

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