Digital research methods roundup
Tenured Radical offers some research tips based on her work at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, including some tips for digital photography. Rather than fill up the comment section there, a few notes:
- I gave a talk a while back on digital camera use for archival research. I’m happy to see that Miriam Posner has provided a more in-depth follow-up on batch-processing photos from your archive trip, including using Acrobat Professional’s optical character recognition (OCR) to make your photos of print sources easier to search.
- Bill Turkel at the University of Western Ontario is busy on a super-sekrit project, but he’s writing a lot about his methods: backup and versioning, making everything digital, automating how you find new articles, keeping local copies of everything. Keep watching for his future posts; he’s been at this digital-methods thing a long time.
- Latin-Americanist Chad Black writes at parezco y digo. His series on Devonthink and other Mac apps for history and humanities research
(1, 2, 3), from 2008, presents an alternate approach of putting all your research materials into One Big System (in this case, DevonThink, which I’ve heard other scholars recommend as well.)
- Jean Bauer has the slides up for her talk at Brown about the Early American Foreign Service Database, her dissertation research. If you’re interested in learning about database design in history projects, you could do worse than to read her Packets blog. She also writes technical notes, like an item on representing partial dates in Rails applications (computer-geeky but useful).
A plea for some shameless self-promotion
Apropos of Jean’s work: one of the most interesting things I’m seeing come out of other early-career historians’ work is that we’re putting our research materials online, sometimes in great volume, alongside whatever other publications we may do. The more of us do it, the more we lower the perceived career risk of doing similarly.
The same is true about these blog posts we make on research methods. Just because there isn’t a journal publishing articles about this stuff doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be talking about it.
If you have a web-based research-materials project (or a friend’s project), or digital-methods-related blog post you want to show off, please say something about it below so others can find it.