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Your Data and Digital Scholarship

What happens when you have data but you’re struggling to see any patterns or make any arguments about it? What if you know what your data means but you need a compelling way to share your findings with others?

The methods and tools of digital scholarship can help you with both of these scenarios. Here’s a Q&A about digital scholarship and data with Digital Scholarship Librarian Megan Martinsen.

Megan Martinsen, Digital Scholarship Librarian

What is digital scholarship?

Digital scholarship is the use of digital technology to carry out research and share it with others. Digital scholarship is comprised of a variety of methods that researchers use to conduct their research and/or to share their research with others. These methods include things like text mining, digital map making, data visualization, image analysis, and the creation of scholarly digital assets like websites or digital annotated editions.

How can digital scholarship help me if I’m struggling to explore my data?

Lots of digital scholarship methods are intended to help you explore your data. I’ll give three examples of types of data you might have and ways that digital scholarship methods could help you explore that data. If your data has a geographic component, then creating a digital map can help you see the data more clearly and potentially discover a pattern in your data that you couldn’t see just by analyzing it in a spreadsheet. If your data is textual, text mining could help you identify things like the most used words and phrases or correlated words and phrases. That information might lead you to see your textual data differently or to see something you couldn’t before. If your data is primarily numeric, data visualization can be very helpful. By creating graphs from various dimensions of the data, you might see things that you couldn’t when you were analyzing the data as simply numbers. There are of course many more examples of different types of data you might have and different ways that digital scholarship can help, but I’ll stop here for now. However, I hope that you can start to see that digital scholarship methods can be a powerful way to explore your data.

Can digital scholarship help me share my findings about my data with other people?

Just as digital scholarship methods can help you see your data in a different way, they can also be useful in helping other people see your data. Let’s face it; most people don’t particularly like to look at giant spreadsheets! And even if you found someone who did want to look at a spreadsheet, it’s possible they would never see the same patterns in the data that interest you. Digital scholarship methods help us be data storytellers. You can take your data and the points you want to make about that data and create something to share with others. That “something” could take all sorts of forms: infographics, timelines, word clouds, digital maps, graphs, anything that helps you tell the story of our data to other people.

Where can I learn more about using digital scholarship tools?

The library hosts workshops on a variety of digital scholarship tools and methods. You can see upcoming workshops listed on the library’s events schedule. An exciting upcoming workshop is the Digital Scholarship Bootcamp for Graduate Students in March 2018. There is also general information about digital scholarship and digital scholarship tools on the library’s digital scholarship webpage.

What kind of support for digital scholarship does the library offer?

We are happy to help you learn how to use a digital scholarship tool, figure out which tool or method might be best for exploring your data, or help you with a larger digital scholarship project you’ve been thinking about. Simply email us a digitalscholarship@georgetown.edu to set up a consultation and get started!