If you are a History postgraduate or early career researcher and would like to learn more about managing your research, then please sign up to the Institute of Historical Research’s forthcoming workshop on managing your research. The workshop includes presentations about data management, open access, and digital tools. It takes place in London on 27 February 2014 and is FREE to attend (bursaries are also available for travel).Project manager, Dr Matt Phillpott tells us more.

What is research data?

During the research process historians produce a whole heap of materials including notes, quotations, statistics, interview transcripts, images, databases, spread sheets and much more besides. We consider this part of the research process, but rarely consider it in terms of producing data that needs to be conserved and archived in its own right. I think it’s still true that historians still tend to talk in terms of final publishable content, and not in terms of the underlying materials (or data) that the publications rely upon.

This was certainly true of me when I was researching my doctorate study. My work mainly focused on unearthing the sources used by its author to write a Protestant history in the sixteenth-century. I didn’t have a database or a spread sheet, but what I did produce were lists of sources divided up by page number and topic heading. With just a little bit more thought it would have been easy for me to produce something meaningful in terms of ‘data’ entirely separate from the final thesis. Instead I added an abbreviated form as an appendix, and the rest remains on my hard drive, in a form only really understandable to me.   I could have, and should have, done better.

Several years on and with a fair bit of added experience under my belt I now wish I’d spent a bit more time thinking about data management when I was doing my doctorate research. It would have saved me a lot of time now that I’m looking back at that material again to produce monographs and articles. It would have also given me something else to share; data that I believe would be potentially useful to other people studying the same subject.

I’m also now aware that funding bodies are increasingly requiring the underlying ‘data’ to be made available to other researchers. The rise of open access for journal articles is another challenge that will likely expose our underlying data for wider audiences. As historians it is increasingly important for us to order and manage our research not just for ourselves (in that present moment) but for our future selves and for other researchers.

A workshop on managing your data

For postgraduate students and early career researchers it is particularly vital that issues of managing data and the research process are considered as early as possible. With that in mind the School of Advanced Study’s Institute of Historical Research, in partnership with the Department of History at the University of Hull, and the Humanities Research Institute (University of Sheffield), are hosting a one day workshop looking into how to manage data in the 21st century.

The workshop will take place on 27 February 2014, 10.30am-4.30pm at the Institute of Historical Research (Senate House, University of London). The event is FREE and bursaries are available to postgraduate students who attend (first priority is given to AHRC-funded students).

The workshop is part of the History DMT (data management training) project funded by the AHRC Collaborative Skills Development strand. For more information please check the History DMT project page. Updates are also available on the IHR blog.

Location: Senate House (University of London)

Date: 27 February 2014

Time: 10.30am-4.30pm

Places are limited. For the workshop programme and to reserve a place please visit the IHR Research Training page. If you would like to learn more about the workshop then please contact Matt Phillpott at matt.phillpott@sas.ac.uk who is happy to help.