Data Practices in Digital History
This paper presents an exploratory research project that investigates data practices in digital history research. Emerging from the 1950s and ‘60s in the United States, digital history remains a charged topic among historians, requiring a new research paradigm that includes new concepts and methodologies, an intensive degree of interdisciplinary, inter-institutional, and international collaboration, and experimental forms of research sharing, publishing, and evaluation. Using mixed methods of interviews and questionnaire, we identified data challenges in digital history research practices from three perspectives: ontology (e.g., the notion of data in historical research); workflow (e.g., data collection, processing, preservation, presentation and sharing); and challenges. Extending from the results, we also provide a critical discussion of the state-of-art in digital history research, particularly in respect of metadata, data sharing, digital history training, collaboration, as well as the transformation of librarians’ roles in digital history projects. We conclude with provisional recommendations of better data practices for participants in digital history, from the perspective of library and information science.
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