March 26, 2019, by Sarah Davies
On trial – Gale’s Digital Scholar Lab
Guest Blog by Erin Snyder, Director of the Faculty of Arts Digital Transformations Hub
Last summer, I was pleased to attend the Digital Humanities Congress 2018 at the University of Sheffield. Gale were showcasing their new Digital Scholar Lab and I was impressed enough to ask the library to help set up a trial at Nottingham. The ‘Lab’ enables you to create large corpora of text and analyse with text and data mining tools; read more about it here.
From 25 March-25 April you can try the Digital Scholar Lab tools for yourself! Once you click on this link it is necessary to log in. This can be done by linking your University Office 365 account to it, or alternatively a Google account.
I’ve previously worked on projects where we’ve tried to wrangle enormous databases of texts, and search them in interesting, novel ways. This has at times involved complex server set-ups and importuning of programmers. At other times, we’ve had to scale down the data so off-the-shelf programs can handle it. We end up asking questions bounded by what the program can handle, rather than what our interest is.
The Digital Scholar Lab promises to remove much of the frustration: no complex setup of servers, no need to learn how to program, and the ability to search across almost all of their databases of primary sources, at once. If you have a question about the data, it’s right there in front of you, so you can move from “distant” to “close” reading at any time. In addition to using the stable of tools they offer (ngrams, word frequency, parts of speech, clustering, configurable lists of stop words, and more), you can filter out a set of documents you want to study and then export that to use with your own tools and methods. It promises to be fast and easy, with the potential to let researchers test a theory in an hour that might have once taken… a whole lot longer.
The library already subscribes to a number of Gale primary source databases. For the duration of the trial, Gale are making additional content freely available so you can make the most of the tools of the Digital Scholar Lab while we’ve got them.
Representatives from Gale will be coming to demonstrate the Lab in Nottingham on 3rd April. If you would like to attend, please contact us here .
We’re very interested in hearing from researchers who use the trial, so do get in touch and leave your comments.
Hope you enjoy!