Gabriel Pizzorno, lecturer in the Department of History, presents on data structures to attendees at the Spring 2018 Fundamentals of Digital Scholarship seminar.

On March 6–7, the Digital Scholarship Support Group (DSSG) led a capacity crowd of Harvard faculty, students, and staff in a hands-on workshop covering the core stages of the digital scholarship workflow, the acquisition, manipulation, analysis, visualization, and presentation of data.

Meeting in Lamont Library’s Room B–30, representatives from HUIT’s Academic Technology for FAS and Arts and Humanities Research Computing, the History Department, and the Harvard Library’s Maps, Media, Data, and Government Information department spent two days walking over three dozen participants through the process of:

  • Creating digital datasets from online or physical resources;
  • Effectively storing and organizing those datasets;
  • Preparing the data for analysis;
  • Using visualization techniques to explore datasets; and
  • Presenting the results in various formats on multiple platforms.

“I now have a much better mental model of what is involved with digital scholarship, and feel ready to embark on my own project or guide others.”

– Participant in the Spring 2018 ‘Fundamentals of Digital Scholarship’ seminar

To provide continuity throughout the workshop, participants worked with a common dataset, the Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson. Tools and approaches taught included data and web structures, web scraping, optical character recognition (OCR), data acquisition and manipulation with Excel, OpenRefine, and Python, as well as visualization and network analysis with Tableau and Cytoscape, and web–based publishing.

Feedback on the seminar was overwhelmingly positive, with 100% of respondents to a follow-up survey noting their satisfaction with the proceedings. “This was excellent,” said one participant. “All the lecture material was engaging, useful, succinct, clear and I liked how every speaker tied their piece into the overall concept.” Another said, “I liked the comprehensive and interlinking aspect of the workshops. It gave me a nice sense of a digital project from start to finish. All the presentations were easy to follow [and] engaging.” “I now have a much better mental model of what is involved with digital scholarship,” said another participant, “and feel ready to embark on my own project or guide others.”

The Digital Scholarship Support Group is a collaboration between Academic Technology, the History Department, the Harvard Library, and IQSS. The next Fundamentals of Digital Scholarship seminar will be offered in Fall 2018.

To remain up to date on this, on the partner seminar on Digital Teaching Methods, and/or on other DSSG-facilitated learning opportunities, please sign up for the DSSG mailing list.