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As curious an entity: building digital resources from context, records and data

CollectionsDigital Humanities Australasia: Building, Mapping, Connecting (2012)
Title: As curious an entity: building digital resources from context, records and data
Author(s): Lewis, Antonina
Jones, Michael
Publisher: Australasian Association for Digital Humanities
Citation: Lewis, A. & Jones, M. (March 2012). As curious an entity: Building digital resources from context, records and data. Presented at Digital Humanities Australasia 2012: Building, Mapping, Connecting [Conference] [aaDH2012]. Canberra, Australia: ANU
This paper explores new ways of conceiving and building linked digital resources for researchers and the community which more effectively support the exploration, discovery and reuse of digital objects and research data (qualitative and quantitative). It stems from an examination of our work on the Saulwick Archive (including the Saulwick Age‐Poll, focus group discussions, and more) as well as our ongoing involvement with the Australian Data Archive. As the technical capacity to store and disseminate digital objects grows and as quantitative research data become more discoverable and accessible, two issues are evident: the sometimes limited conception of what is required to ensure quantitative data remain useful and understandable through time, and; (in Australia at least) the general lack of equivalent preservation and dissemination relationships with qualitative research communities, including the Humanities. These are connected – the well documented reluctance of qualitative researchers to deposit research data within archives, based on fears of missing context and the resulting ‘misuse’ or ‘misinterpretation’ of data, is itself partially founded in the specific context of past (primarily quantitative) data archiving practice. Dealing with these challenges is necessarily collaborative. In the case of the Saulwick Archive, the eScholarship Research Centre, The University of Melbourne Archives, and Australian Data Archive are working together. This ensures we can source valuable expertise in the specific (but connected) conceptual and technical requirements for dealing with three interdependent ‘layers’ of information objects: context, records, and data. The paper will also use these concepts more broadly, exploring how the shortcomings in records and context management evident in past approaches to data archiving can be addressed; and how an integrated but modular approach to the collaborative management of interrelated context, records, and data can contribute to the development of richer and more sustainable information infrastructure for researchers.


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