Making Arguments Clear in a Digital Environment: Data Curation and the Digital Humanities

Thursday, January 5, 2017: 2:10 PM
Plaza Ballroom D (Sheraton Denver Downtown)
Thomas Padilla, University of California, Santa Barbara
Digital Humanities (DH) training has long been challenged by the need to simultaneously acclimate to disciplinary competencies as well as computational methods and tools that are often alien to the disciplinary context in which they have been brought. While there is increasing discussion in the Digital Humanities community about how to deal with this confluence, most of the discussion focuses on naturalizing cross-disciplinary methodological and technical competencies that support interpretation and utilitarian engagement in the near term. This focus often comes at the detriment of teaching data curation - a constellation of practices and sensibilities that help ensure data reuse, reproducibility of research claims, and transparency of the research process. Combined, these outcomes are necessary to ensure long-term permanence and intelligibility of digital research. Without attention paid to data curation it is often the case that arguments in digital humanities research end up poorly documented, to the extent that the foundations of their claims are opaque to the reader.I argue that we can improve Digital Humanities training, and by connection Digital Humanities research, through data curation teaching structured by a data information literacy framework. This approach communicates the core competencies that are required to do data curation well across disciplines. My argument is informed by research I have conducted with funding from the Association for Computers and the Humanities on DH pedagogy and evidenced by the creation and implementation of instruction that is designed to cultivate data curation sensibilities for multiple disciplinary audiences.