Frequently Asked Questions

General

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What is digital humanities (DH)?

Digital Humanities brings humanities inquiry into dialogue with digital tools, platforms, databases and other informational structures in order to advance knowledge and develop solutions for complex problems. Digital Humanities is praxis oriented and emphasizes collaborative, team-based projects that engage in the building blocks of digital activity, such as archiving, curation, analysis, coding, editing, visualization, mapping, modelling, versioning, prototyping, and failing. At the University of Toronto, we have an inclusive agenda that encompasses interpretive or theoretical work on digitality.

To learn more about the many definitions of DH, visit the Hunter Library Research Guide or the Digital Humanities Manifesto 2.0 by Todd Presner and Jeffrey Schnapp.

What is critical digital humanities?

What is critial digital humanities?

Critical Digital Humanities is an emerging, intersectional field that emphasizes questions of power, social justice, and critical theory in making and analyzing digital technologies. This is a version of digital humanities that places antiracist, decolonial, feminist, and queer/trans/non-binary work at its core, and which understands our current historic shift in digital technology as an opportunity for social and political transformation. Critical Digital Humanities foregrounds creative praxis, co-creation, public engagement, and community-based research.

What does a DH project involve?

A DH project can take many different forms. When applying digital technology to humanities scholarship, some of the most common methods include data visualization, text editing or analysis, transcription, digital publishing, digitization of archival material or mapping. A DH project could also involve bringing humanities methodologies to the digital world in order to study video games, digital representation, accessibility, algorithmic bias, or artificial intelligence. In almost all cases, digital humanities research requires collaboration with programmers, archivists, digital scholarship librarians, data scientists, and/or others.

What are some platforms and software I might find helpful?

ArcGIS Story Maps ↪

Platform that combines narrative storytelling and mapping visualization. Offers a simple map-making interface that allows the researcher or student to incorporate text, image, and video to create interactive research.

Omeka ↪

Digital archive maker. Especially useful for uploading and curating texts, creating databases. Dr. Alexandra Bolintineanu at UofT has made a page that helps researchers explore the archiving and teaching capabilities of Omeka at https://omekagym.omeka.net/

Scalar ↪

Scholarly version of WordPress that allows researchers to publish articles/monographs for public audiences. Allows for non-linear exploration and the inclusion of video and images.

Voyant ↪

Web-based platform for generating statistical information about text corpora that may offer preliminary information about your text(s).

Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool ↪

Checks the accessibility of your site.

Where can I find DH-related spaces and equipment?

We have compiled a comprehensive list of spaces and equipment that will help you carry out your DH project. See also our list of digital scholarship librarians.

Where can I find training or professional development opportunities?

Tri-Campus Library Schedule ↪

Provides a schedule of upcoming workshops and training events such as introductions to R/Python/HTML coding; orientations for platforms such as the Gale Digital Scholar Lab, RefWorks, and Zotero; and information sessions about Open Access publishing.

The Carpentries at U of T ↪

Modular workshops that introduce participants to data skills, software/programming, and library and information science roles. Workshops emphasize an inclusive learning community for novice learners to acquire data and computational skills in a supportive and collaborative environment.

Digital Humanities Summer Institute ↪

Offers a number of week-long training workshops from GIS to text encoding with R.

DH@Guelph ↪

Offers workshops, seminars, and talks through DigiCafe and DH@Guelp Summer Workshops.

What kind of funding is available?

Training Scholarships ↪

The CDHI provides scholarship support for graduate students and faculty who wish to develop specific skills at prominent sites such as the Digital Humanities Summer Institute or DH@Oxford.

Research Alerts ↪

Allows you to stay current with all research activities at the University of Toronto. You will receive emails about the latest funding opportunities and awards, partnership opportunities, commercialization activity, new technologies and start-ups, etc.

Chief Librarian Innovation Grant

Allows you to stay current with all research activities at the University of Toronto. You will receive emails about the latest funding opportunities and awards, partnership opportunities, commercialization activity, new technologies and start-ups, etc.

CDHI Emerging Projects Fund ↪

The CDHI’s Emerging Project Incubator offers funding for time-limited, faculty digital humanities project planning, international partnership networking, and/or tool-building through competitive seed grants. Each award of $4,000 is designed to support a faculty research in the form of a critical DH project in its initial stages. The Emerging Projects Incubator particularly seeks to foster collaboration with the expectation the research team will submit to SSHRC for Partnership Development Grants and Partnership Grants.

Undergraduate Student Fellowships ↪

In collaboration with divisional partners, the CDHI awards undergraduate fellowships each year valued at $5000 each. These fellowships are designed to support undergraduate students working on faculty DH projects.

Graduate Student Fellowships ↪

In collaboration with divisional partners, the CDHI will be awarding 12 graduate fellowships ranging from semester-length RAships of $4000 to longer term $10,000 fellowships. These fellowships are designed to support graduate students working on faculty DH projects and/or, in some instances, to support PhD students in completing their dissertations.

JHI/CLIR Digital Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow

The Jackman Humanities Institute (JHI) at the University of Toronto, with support from the Council of Library and Information Resources (CLIR), offers a twelve-month Postdoctoral Fellowship in Digital Humanities with a project that fits the JHI’s annual theme. The call for applications typically releases in the fall.

JHI-UTSC DH Faculty Fellowship ↪

The Jackman Humanities Institute, with the support of UT-Scarborough, the UTSC Library, the Dean, UTSC and the Office of the Vice-Principal Research, supports an 18-month Digital Scholarship project each academic year. The JHI-UTSC DH early career faculty fellow leads a team of undergraduate and graduate students and library staff, to produce the following outcomes: participation in JHI’s Digital Humanities Network (DHN), curricular innovation, advancement on a scholarly project, and a grant proposal (SSHRC, Early Researcher Award, or other). The call for applications typically appears in late winter.

Can you help me with my DH project?

Yes, we are here to help! Email Dr. Elizabeth Parke to set up a consultation.

Research

I am interested in using a high performance computer as my laptop does not have the processing power to analyze my data. Are there any high-performance computers I can use for crunching large data files?

SciNet is Canada’s largest supercomputer centre. It provides computational resources and expertise to researchers at Canadian institutions. Any qualified researcher at a Canadian university is eligible for an account on the SciNet systems. I Resources include an x86 cluster running linux (one of the largest computers in Canada), a Power 6 system running AIX, a GPU cluster, and a Power 7 system running Linux. All interested academic users may attend the SciNet Education and Training courses free of charge; generally a (free) SciNet account is required. Non-SciNet users in the Toronto academic research community can also make use of SciNet resources by attending a SciNet Research Computing Consulting Clinic to make use of the expertise of the SciNet centre for their own research problems.

Also, please note that SciNet does a lot of training and education, and run a wide variety of courses, workshops, etc. You can check these out on their education site. All the course materials are online, including the slides and recordings of the actual lectures.

Your divisional IT staff will also be able to support you on this.

I am about to go on a research trip to an archive, and I want to create a digital archive of my research. What resources should I consult to make sure my data is accessible after I have completed my trip?

To ensure your data is accessible after your trip, consider the following:

Data Management

  • Data Management Plans: A DMP can be a helpful tool for you to organize your research project data. There are free tools available to help draft a DMP, and you can also draft your own Data Management Plan.
  • Documentation & Metadata: Documenting your data collection practices and provenance is an important part of research data management and can take many forms. Metadata standards should also be considered.
  • Citation Management: Citation management software can help retain and organize items integral to your research.
  • File Formats for Long-Term Access: The file formats you use have implications for the preservation of your data. Follow the link for guidelines for selecting file formats and examples of preferred file formats.
  • File Management: Effective file management of your data can play a key role in the success of your project. Follow the link for information on folder hierarchy, file naming conventions, and best practices.

Security

  • Data Storage: For information on storing enduring data, choosing data storage, and backing up your data.
  • Secure File Transfer: Options for sending files that have confidential information to people outside the University of Toronto.
  • Encryption: If your computer contains confidential information you are required by University of Toronto policy to encrypt your hard drive. By following the link, you will find information on what constitutes confidential information, how to encrypt your computer, and other encryption options.
  • Passwords: Information on what makes a good password, how to create secure passwords, and how to keep track of passwords.
  • Consent Form: Information on informed consent and data sharing, and example consent forms.
  • Sensitive Data: Information on what is sensitive data and sharing sensitive data.
  • Preservation: Data preservation is an activity within archiving that ensures the access to and use of enduring data sets. This includes making sure data sets can be understood through changes in technology. Follow the link for information on how to select data for preservation and where to preserve data.

I have a large amount of text data, too much to analyze on my own. Are there resources for text and data mining my data sets?

The Map & Data Library (located on the 5th floor of Robarts Library) has 8 reference area computers that are all equipped with the following statistical programs: SPSS 24, SAS 9.4, StataSE 15, StatTransfer 10, R, and NVIVO 11. One workstation also has PDF2XL Enterprise and is hooked up to flatbed scanner. You can find more information about these statistical programs here. For the full list of tutorials compiled by the Map and Data Library, click here.

At UTSC, IITS maintains over 600 Apple and PC workstations distributed across several computing spaces on the North and South UTSC Campus. A complete list of software available on these workstations can be found here.

The UTM Library has over 200 computers. The library workstations, located in the RBC Learning Commons and Amgen Smart Classrooms feature a compact list of productivity and course-related applications which can be found here. Furthermore, Computing Services maintains Apple and Windows PC workstations distributed across several computing spaces across the UTM Campus. See the list of software available in the Windows PC labs here and software available in the Apple Macintosh labs here.

I am analyzing a large amount of data, and I want to convert it into useful visualizations for research presentations and publications. Are there resources I can use for visualizing my data sets?

The Map and Data Library has assembled comprehensive lists of tools & tutorials for data visualization. The Map & Data Library reference area and computer lab computers have various data visualization software installed.

The Gerstein Library MADLab provides some visualization hardware, such as 3D printers and scanners and virtual reality equipment for use.

Teaching

I am interested in learning technical and computer skills for future pedagogical projects with my students. Are there any free workshops I can attend to learn digital tools and methods?

A variety of library workshops are offered at the St. George campus:

  • 3D printing safety training is offered by both Gerstein Library’s MADLab and Robarts Library’s Information Commons.
  • The Map & Data Library offers workshops on R, Excel, SPSS, Stata, Python, data visualization, infographics, and GIS software.
  • The Faculty of Information’s iSkills workshops instruct on FFmpeg, Bio-Sonification, Raspberry Pi, TinkerCAD, soft circuits, alternative controllers, 3D printing, iOS App Development with Swift and AudioKit, Adobe Illustrator, Articulate Storyline, artificial intelligence & machine learning, Archivematica, SirsiDynix Symphony Workflows, Axure, and Audacity. However, these workshops are limited to iSchool students and faculty.
  • The U of T Coders hold events in MADLab at Gerstein Science Information Centre on coding skills and tools such as Python, R, Git, HTML, Inkscape, and Bash.

At UTM, faculty interested in collaborating with a librarian to develop course materials, assess information literacy-related learning outcomes, or explore other areas of interest are welcome to contact a Liaison Librarian or schedule a consultation appointment. Workshops on a variety of topics are available and/or may be developed collaboratively to custom fit your needs or those of your students.

At UTSC, The BRIDGE offers workshops on online mapping, data visualization, data literacy, Microsoft Excel, and Python. The UTSC Library Makerspace also offers one-time Introductory Orientation sessions to gain full access to the space.

I have an assignment in my course which requires some training for my students in a computer lab environment. Are there classrooms I can book on campus which provide access to computers, software, and tools for digital projects?