digital research methods workshops: RFF

I’m making a topic list for some digital research methods workshops. This is a request for feedback and/or supplements!

Some background first. The school I work at is a theological seminary existing within a Research I university. The students in it are all [post]graduate: Master’s- and doctoral-level. Some degrees are more vocationally oriented; others—more research-oriented. This refers to what the students do after they leave here; all of our graduate programs involve the usual amounts of traditional scholarship. Some also involve field work.

I aim for these to be one-off, two-hour workshops offered to every student near the beginning of their time here. There will be two different workshops, one for most of the Master’s-level students, the other for our advanced Master’s and all doctoral students. The topic list is more or less the same, with different areas of emphasis for each workshop.  For those people writing theses and dissertations, there will be an additional hour-long workshop touching on things like how to properly format things in MS Word (sigh; yes, really—nobody teaches them this stuff!), open access, authorship etc.

These might more rightly be called digital scholarship primers, I don’t know. In any case, “digital research methods” might be a misnomer. I actually don’t think that it is. Implicit in the topic list below is my belief that the use of digital resources that feed you information and the use of digital tools to directly create new knowledge are different skill sets, but both classifiable as digital research.  If you think I’m off the mark here, I’d welcome your reasoning—not to make you justify yourself, but to gain more perspective—and/or suggestions for other workshop titles.

Here’s what I have so far. What would you add? Do you see problems with my thinking that I’m not seeing?

  • What digital scholarship is
    • not all scholarship that’s online is digital scholarship
    • not all digital scholarship is online
    • digital scholarship is not equivalent to digital publication
    • major communities in the humanities
    • digital theology, online and off
  • Is this real scholarship?
    • you bet
    • but in many places it doesn’t count for promotion/tenure
      • briefly on the herarchy of knowledge production that informs your studies
      • this politics has no bearing on quality, either of digital or paper resources
    • peer review for online resources
    • ultimately YOU have to decide whether it’s worth your time
    • whatever you intend do after STH, you’re a scholar now
  • Why do people bother doing it digitally?
    • some things you can’t do analog
    • knowledge dissemination/access
    • the digital cannot replace the analog, and vice versa
  • How digital scholarship is done
    • Father Busa and the Corpus Thomisticum
    • semantic encoding
    • 3D imaging of artifacts
    • other [this is a big Other, of course. I’m looking to limit principal examples to ones most relevant to theology, but will also touch on examples from history, sociology, literary studies etc.]
  • Why digital scholarship is relevant to you
    • some of it you can’t find anywhere else
    • it’s scholarship in your field. not knowing it is knowing your field incompletely.
  • How to find digital scholarly resources
    • searching the internet: more than the Google search box
    • how to evaluate for trustworthiness
    • a special note on Wikipedia: not a scholarly resource BUT uniquely useful.
    • some points of departure (Voice of the Shuttle, Intuit, WorldCat, library databases)
    • there’s a difference between digital scholarly resources and digital tools that let you find analog resources
  • How to interact with digital scholarly resources
    • a few resource examples (including History of Missiology)
    • how to know what questions to ask
    • how to evaluate quality
    • peer reviewed resources vs. not-peer-reviewed ones
    • some problems to watch out for
    • data often obscure, particularly semantic encoding
    • how to cite digital resources
  • General notes on digital research
    • research is iterative
    • digital research can span vast amounts of information or a single text
    • you can not only utilize what’s already available but make your contribution, too
    • you can use social media for research purposes (here’s how)
  • Resources available at BU
    • me
    • new initiatives going on right now
    • look for events around Open Access Week in October

4 Responses to “digital research methods workshops: RFF”

  1. Marta Says:

    You had mentioned that you wanted me to remind you of collaboration when you started drafting this. I was reminded about the collaborative utility of google docs by this: http://digitalresearchtools.pbworks.com/Collaborative+Authoring page (although someone should tell the authors that etherpad is deeeefunct)

    I don’t remember if that was the only thing you wanted reminding about.

  2. vika Says:

    *facepalm* Collaboration. Of course! Thank you.

  3. Lisa Spiro Says:

    What a fabulous workshop/primer! I like the way you lay out what digital scholarship is and why it is significant. If you have time (always a challenge), you may also want to expose students to research management tools such as Zotero, RSS feeds, and information visualization. If you like, feel free to borrow from slides that I prepared for a workshop on digital research methods in history: http://scholarship.rice.edu/handle/1911/27209 In discussing peer review and knowledge dissemination, you may want to refer participants to Kathleen Fitzpatrick’s “Planned Obsolescence.”

    Good luck with the workshops!

  4. vika Says:

    Thanks, Lisa! And thanks a lot for the link: I’ll definitely crib from that.

    And, similarly to what I said to Marta above: d’oh. Of course, tools. Zotero etc. Yes. It’s funny that I omitted these, and collaboration. Got caught up in the what’s-behind-it-all.


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