Digital scholarship blog

08 January 2015

Help #bldigital to help you do better digital research

The Jisc Research Data Spring is a project that aims to find tools, software, and service solutions that will improve how researchers work, in particular how they use and manage data.

The British Library Digital Research team are confident that infrastructures that deliver flexible and scalable access to large digital collections as data can enable better research. Last year we spoke about this at Digital Humanities 2014 (Farquhar, Adam; Baker, James (2014): Interoperable Infrastructures for Digital Research: A proposed pathway for enabling transformation. figshare. and we continue to work with student teams at UCL Computer Science to experiment with platforms for access to and interrogation of British Library digital collections.

Building on these activities, we are involved in two initial project proposals for the Jisc Research Data Spring:

'Dissecting digital humanities data with biomedical tools' is a collaboration with the School of Social and Community Medicine, University of Bristol, and seeks to adapt DataSHIELD, originally developed to co-analyse numerical patient data from different sources without disclosing identity or sensitive information, to include a proof-of-concept for supporting a range of text analyses across datasets that present divergent challenges to access and interpretation. In short, whether the barrier to computational text analysis is ethical-legal, IP or licensing related, or just the physical size of the data this project will be a step towards helping you work across those data and derive from your analysis meaningful, high-level, comparative results. For more on DataSHIELD see 'DataSHIELD: taking the analysis to the data, not the data to the analysis' (2014).

'Enabling complex analysis of large scale digital collections'  is a collaboration with UCL Centre for Digital Humanities and UCL Research Computing that seeks to use the resources of the latter in combination with our data to investigate the needs and requirements of a service that would allow researchers to undertake complex searches of digital content. By enabling both the research community and the public to propose problems and taken an active role in understanding how those problems are translated into complex queries that UCL Research Computing could perform on the data, the project aims to generate better understanding of the demands in the processing of large scale cultural data and inform us about user requirements in reusing, analysing, and facilitating searches of digital content.

For these discrete but complimentary projects to become reality, we need your help. For only by you commenting on and voting for the projects on IdeaScale (head to pages for 'Dissecting digital humanities data with biomedical tools' and 'Enabling complex analysis of large scale digital collections' respectively) can they advance to the next stage and perhaps - eventually - secure substantial funding.

James Baker

Curator, Digital Research



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