Roundtable Research Support Services for History Scholars: A Study of Evolving Research Methods in History

AHA Session 142
Saturday, January 5, 2013: 9:00 AM-11:00 AM
Rhythms Ballroom 2 (Sheraton New Orleans)
Roger Schonfeld, ITHAKA S+R
Francis X. Blouin, University of Michigan–Ann Arbor
Sharon M. Leon, George Mason University
Miriam Posner, University of California, Los Angeles
Stefan Tanaka, University of California, San Diego
Robert Townsend, American Historical Association
The Public Practice of History in and for a Digital Age

Session Abstract

Ithaka S+R has launched the Research Support Services for Scholars program to engage scholars and research support professionals in building a deeper understanding of the needs of researchers, the  support landscape, current and evolving practices, and the challenges both communities face in conducting and facilitating innovative research. Funded by the NEH, Ithaka S+R’s History Project explores the day-to-day reality of what it means to practice history in the digital age, and how research methodology in history is changing in an increasingly digital environment.

The evolution of technology and its impact on scholarship in the humanities has sparked and sustained the wide-spread Digital Humanities movement. Historians, in particular, have engaged and embraced these new technologies; most notably through the use of digitized texts and collections, and advancements in desktop computing. The subsequently-enabled research methodologies and scholarly communication practices are transforming the field in significant ways, allowing scholars to enhance their methodologies and ask new historical questions.

These evolving historical research methods are also changing the nature of scholars’ interactions with service providers such as libraries, archives, computing support centers, digital humanities centers, scholarly societies, and publishers. This project provides a deep analysis of the current research practices of historians and the new models for research support services that are emerging on campuses across the country.

 This round table session will provide an overview of the Ithaka S+R Research Support Services for Scholars History Project findings and recommendations, along with a dynamic discussion between historians and librarians about the ways in which they can continue to work together to support historical research in the future. Ithaka S+R researchers will present the research findings, based on interviews with twenty research support professionals and forty academic historians, and facilitate a discussion and reactions from the panelists. Conversation will then continue by inviting questions from the audience. This roundtable session presents a unique opportunity for historians and research support professionals to come together to discuss their working relationships and the future of historical research methods.

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