Digital Humanities Hub
The University has a Digital Humanities Hub to support you with adding digital tools, methodologies and approaches to your research in innovative ways.
The Digital Humanities (DH) Hub is a cross-service team based in the Library, and unifies expertise in data management and information literacy; research development and strategy; academic software engineering; and collections, records management, and digital archiving. It works closely with the Digital Humanities (DH) Community of Practice, which enables discussions on topics about DH as an academic discipline, and is a developing group of peers, providing a supportive and collaborative community.
You can find resources, information, case studies highlighting Reading’s DH research, and our blog, on the DH Hub portal.
Why Digital Humanities (DH)?
At the heart of DH research and the DH community is an enthusiasm for innovation and a commitment to sustainability.
Engaging with DH approaches in your work can help you to:
- conduct research you couldn’t otherwise conduct
- analyse large amounts of otherwise manageable data
- conduct some aspects of your research more efficiently, making more time available and allowing you to increase the scope of your project
- make your research and data freely and widely accessible
- identify opportunities for collaboration and interdisciplinary work
- discover new perspectives on your research area and practice
Even if you do not intend to engage in digital research yourself, we can help you gain insights from scholarship and practice in DH in order to participate in debates about the future of your own discipline. Get in touch to find out more about how we can support you with your research.
What is DH?
DH is the critical study of the intersection between digital technologies, disciplines in the Arts and Humanities, and scholarly communication.
There are two main ways in which you might engage with DH methods and principles in your research:
- using digital tools and software to interpret and analyse research questions, or to collect, manipulate or visualise research data;
- applying critical traditions in Arts and Humanities research to digital technologies, including those used for research and how the use of this technology changes the research outcome.
Some DH approaches that have developed substantial communities include textual analysis, corpus linguistics and natural language processing; mapping, GIS and social network analysis; digital editions; 3D reconstructions, VR and immersive experiences; hyperspectral imaging and object recognition; and standards for the management of digital resources. Many of these areas also offer opportunities to engage with AI and machine learning approaches.
DH overlaps with discussion of best practice in research more widely, including issues around accessibility and inclusivity, sustainability, reproducibility of data and open access, open research, transparency and documentation practices, research ethics, infrastructure and equity, and critical approaches to technological advances.
If you are thinking about these questions in relation to your own project, engaging with DH can often help you to illuminate some of the issues and focus your own approach.
Including DH in a research project
The DH Hub supports colleagues at all stages of research and experience, as well as providing both pre-award and post-award support for specific projects.
The DH Hub is here to facilitate the adoption of DH debates, approaches and methodologies in research. We will help you design and develop projects that include a digital element or engage with DH, ranging from introductory conversations to see how DH can apply to a particular research topic, to specific requirements for a funding proposal.
The best DH projects are those where the DH work is fully integrated into your research questions, and which engage as early as possible with any professional services staff, at UoR or elsewhere, who will contribute to the project’s development.
Your Research Development Manager and the DH Officer will first of all work with you to establish the potential for DH in your project and your reasons for including it, and then how best to integrate this with your project aims. We will then help you scope and cost any DH-specific technical requirements for your project, such as storage, skills (including coding), software, and staffing.
If your project is funded, the DH Hub will continue to support you. Be aware that we will only be able to provide technical setup or other services (such as coding or digitisation) if this was agreed in advance and costed appropriately into your proposal.
We will support you through later stages of the project life-cycle, right up until the archiving stage. We encourage you to think about your plans for data collection, management, ownership, dissemination, and preservation early on in the grant development process, bearing in mind that UoR requirements are different from funders’. Your Research Development Manager and the Research Data Manager will help you with this. Your data is any material that you collect in support of your research, but particularly that which you intend to analyse using digital methods.
If your project involves working with an archive and/or an online resource (such as a database or exhibition), we encourage you to speak to University Museums, Archives, and Special Collections Services (UMASCS), even if the collection is not held at UoR. If you have fixed-term funding, this may limit the longevity of any digital resource you create, so think about whether the techniques involved in shaping this particular resource have something to contribute to your specific research question.
If you are mainly interested in making your work visible and accessible to fellow scholars, the DH Hub can help you think about the best route to do this in sustainable ways, for example, identifying and approaching existing digital resources to integrate your data. UMASCS also has considerable expertise in diverse audience engagement and can help you with these questions. The DH Hub can approach UMASCS for you if needed.
If you have a specific training need for your project, we encourage you to allow for this as part of your research project, if you are able to. However, we can help you source the most appropriate form of training, which may be here at UoR or elsewhere. We can help you identify the best digital services, tools and software for your research, and to access and use them.
The DH Hub runs a regular programme of training and discussion events on topics of interest to the research community. Topics in the 2022-23 academic year include digitisation, database design, and social network analysis. Feel free to get in touch if you have a topic you would like us to cover.
We encourage you to contact us with any digital research-related query to find out how we can best help you.
Please note that the DH Hub is currently not able to support the design or delivery of teaching, or offer funding directly for any research-related expenses.
If you are planning a research project, your main contact should be your Research Development Manager, as normal. They will coordinate support from the DH Hub Team.
For more general DH-related matters, or if you are not sure what type of query you have, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information, please visit the Digital Humanities portal, which features detailed information about our services and team, and a range of resources including case studies of digital research.
Consider joining the Digital Humanities Community of Practice, which meets regularly to hear presentations of colleagues' work and discuss DH as a discipline. The Community of Practice is open to UoR researchers, staff, and PGRs from any subject.