Why History?

Over halfway through our project now, and a chance to reflect on the work we have done so far and how we came to be here.  An initial reflection is: why, and how, did we in the Library come to be working with research data in the Department of History?  There are a number of reasons why this came about, which can be split into two categories: disciplinary reasons and institutional reasons.

  • Disciplinary reasons – History is all about data.  It is all about unearthing, gathering, interpreting and presenting data from the past.  Hence, there is a need to manage this data so as to be able to effectively draw conclusions and substantiate those conclusions.  History also has connections with other disciplines, which can have their own historical aspects.  The Department of History at Hull encompasses our courses and research in archaeology.  There are also links to Geography and English in some of the research areas being examined.  As we have found within the History DMP project, the range of data types is varied, in part because of these interdisciplinary connections, and understanding data management planning within History should thus give us an understanding of how data management can benefit other disciplines as well.
  • Institutional reasons – Getting started with data management is one of the questions that has arisen at times within the JISC MRD programme.  Where to start?  Clearly, data management has been happening for some considerable time already in general, and it was one example of previous experience and good practice within the HMAP project that led us to initially discussing the idea of data management planning with the Department.  From this seed we hope many flowers will bloom.  The HMAP project is also a key piece of work within the maritime sphere, and International Maritime is now one of the main strategic themes for the University.  The theme also carries with it the same interdisciplinary flavour that makes the investigation of data management of interest, as described above.

The Library has been able to pursue data management as part of a key strategic aim of its own – promoting the University’s intellectual capital – but has only been able to do this because of the partnership that has been possible through the willingness of the Department to get involved.  How we anticipate the impact of this work together will be the topic of a subsequent blog post.

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