In her book, Borgman locates data as only meaningful within infrastructures or ecologies of knowledge, and discusses the management and exploitation of data as particular kinds of investments in the future of scholarship. Her take on the history of big data and the growing enthusiasm for data sharing, which she asserts often obscures the challenges and complexities of data stewardship, is relevant to historians of the social sciences. An excerpt:
Data practices are local, varying from field to field, individual to individual, and country to country. Studying data is a means to observe how rapidly the landscape of scholarly work in the sciences, social sciences, and the humanities is changing. Inside the black box of data is a plethora of research, technology, and policy issues. Data are best understood as representations of observations, objects, or other entities used as evidence of phenomena for the purposes of research or scholarship. Rarely do they stand alone, separable from software, protocols, lab and field conditions, and other context. The lack of agreement on what constitutes data underlies the difficulties in sharing, releasing, or reusing research data. Continue reading Issues in Open Scholarship: ‘If Data Sharing is the Answer, What is the Question?’→
Here at AHP, we’re interested in fostering conversation about historiographic theory and methods, and as we have access to such a vibrant community of historians and allied researchers, I thought I’d forward this query posted on the H-Public discussions section of H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online.
The interview should take approximately one hour and can be conducted in person, over the telephone, or online using Go2Meeting. Your responses to these questions will be kept confidential. There is no compensation for participating in this study; however, I am confident that your participation will contribute significantly to this emerging area of research.
If you are willing to participate, please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org to confirm your interest. I am happy to answer any questions for you as well.
Historians of science (and other academic or professional disciplines) are used to studying how other people conduct research, but rarely have the spotlight turned on their own work. It is always beneficial to be be given the opportunity to take a look at your methodological ‘black box’ and reflect on those processes. If interested, please contact Alexandra.
A new issue of History of the Human Sciences is now online. The October 2013 release is a special issue on the topic of “Historians in the Archive: Changing Historiographical Practices in the Nineteenth Century.” As described by guest editors Pieter Huistra, Herman Paul and Jo Tollebeek in the introduction, the issue “explores the influence that archives, in a classic, institutional sense, exerted on the practices of 19th-century historiography. How did the archival turn affect historians’ working manners? How contested was this archival research imperative, with its underlying autopsy principle? And how did it spread geographically, in and outside Europe?” The seven articles that comprise the issue include pieces on the persona of the archival historian, the use of state archives, and the role of debates about testimony in the archival turn. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.
“Historians in the archive: An introduction,” by Pieter Huistra, Herman Paul, and Jo Tollebeek. The abstract reads,
Historians in the 19th-century were not the first to discover the importance of source materials kept in archival depositories. More than their predecessors, however, scholars working in the historical discipline that the 19th century saw emerge tended to equate professional historical knowledge with knowledge based on primary source research, that is, practically speaking, on knowledge gained from source material that was usually kept in archives. While previous scholarship had paid ample attention to the methods that 19th-century historians employed for the study of such archival material, to the epistemologies they developed in tandem with these methods and to the institutions they created for the study of archival records, this special issue explores the influence that archives, in a classic, institutional sense, exerted on the practices of 19th-century historiography. How did the archival turn affect historians’ working manners? How contested was this archival research imperative, with its underlying autopsy principle? And how did it spread geographically, in and outside Europe?
Over the course of the summer months, the Weill-Cornell Medical Center Archives in New York have been uploading images from their collection into two new online databases: one for internal users and one that is open to the public. The public database, a part of the Shared Shelf Commons, can be searched directly by selecting “Cornell: New York-Presbyterian/Weill-Cornell” from the drop-down menu. The online collection features both drawings and photographs and includes building interiors and exteriors, staff, and events from the New York Hospital buildings, the Bloomingdale Asylum (later Hospital), the House of Relief, the Lying-in Hospital, the Medical School, and the Nursing School (for background on these institutions, click here). The earliest images date into the late 1700s, with photographs beginning in the late 1800s and running well into the 1970s.
AHP readers may be interested to know that much of the Weill-Cornell Medical Center Archives’ print collection is also available digitally via the ever-growing archive.org site. This material includes:
Ph.D. candidates with approved dissertation topics, and recent Ph.D. graduates (within 5 years) who are looking to add social and political context to their historical projects, may find this Fellowship opportunity interesting: the National Archives is offering a summer research fellowship starting in July 2011. With an accompanying $10,000 stipend, this is an excellent opportunity for researchers and historians to gain access to these archives, to its staff, and to consultants from the House and Senate history offices.
Suggested research topics include: immigration policy, committee histories, environmental policy, Congressional investigations, or eighteenth and nineteenth century petitions to Congress. However, any topic using the historical records of Congress housed at the National Archives’ Centre for Legislative Archives will be considered. Follow this link for more information.
Secondly, The National Humanities Alliance has posted a list of funding opportunities for humanities and social science projects.
Of note are the Digging into Data challenge, where researchers create international (Canada, US, UK, Netherlands) teams to develop new means of searching through and analyzing the large amounts of data and databases now used by humanities and social science scholars.
American archivists may also be interested in this Publishing Historical Records Grant, which provides support for projects requiring between $20,000 and $4,000,000. The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), which is a part of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), supports this opportunity to promote and preserve American documents “essential to understanding our democracy, history, and culture.”
Linda Beebe, the senior director of PsycINFO (the psychology search engine), has written a brief history describing the evolution of the world’s premiere resource for psychological literature. [Update: the original link is no longer accessible; see a cached version here.] It provides a fascinating look at a part of the discipline that we often take for granted.
PsycINFO began in 1967 with the first electronic publication of the bibliographic records included in that year’s print Psychological Abstracts. The ability to produce an electronic product so early in the computing revolution came about as a result of grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF) for a Scientific Information Exchange Project.
In 1965 the APA Publications Board approved an experimental study of the feasibility of producing Psychological Abstracts by the Photon process, which would yield magnetic tapes that could be used for information retrieval.
The production process was crude by today’s standards, as the electronic output was the result of a long paper-and-pencil creation process. However, when implemented in 1966, it greatly changed nearly everything about the production of Psychological Abstracts….
With a monthly, rather than a bimonthly, publication schedule, lag times were cut dramatically from as much as 3 years to as little as 3 months. The quantity of abstracts published also increased, moving from 8,381 in 1963 to 13,622 in 1966; and by the end of the decade the annual output had risen to 18,068….
In 1980 PsycINFO published 31,764 abstracts in electronic form…. By 1989, the annual total had grown to 52,442 abstracts….
The Archives of the History of American Psychology (AHAP) is moving to a new, bigger building. The famous research center, the largest of its kind in the world, has for many years been holed up in the basement of the Polsky Building at the University of Akron, in Ohio. But thanks to the efforts of its director, David Baker, and the contributions of many generous donors, the archives will, this weekend, be moving to a new four-storey building near the UA campus that will house not only its collections, but also offer better facilities to its users and staff, as well as meeting space for workshops and conferences. There will also be a gallery to highlight some of AHAP more notable treasures, such as Stanley Milgram’s simulated shock machine, Albert Bandura’s Bobo Doll, and a door from Philip Zimbardo’s “prison.”
One can find an interview with Dr. Baker about the new facilities here.
Breaking news:Ludy Benjamin Jr. has resigned from the American Psychological Association.
In addition to his well-known and long-standing scholarly involvement in the Society for the History of Psychology, for which he was recognized as a Fellow in 1981, he has also shaped the last quarter-century of several APA divisions: Teaching (Division 2), for which he was recognized as a Fellow in 1982; General Psychology (Div. 1) and Psychology of Women (Div. 35) in 1990; and Experimental Psychology (Div. 3) in 1997.
I began thinking about resigning when APA Council began passing resolutions on the involvement of psychologists in torture and interrogations that were opposite to positions taken by other national associations in health care and public welfare. But I stayed in because of the AHAP funding issues. As I indicated in my resignation letter to James Bray, I was not resigning because APA cut funds to the Archives. But I was resigning because the process was, in my opinion, one of subterfuge from the initiation of the cuts in Central Office through what I perceived as the rigged debate on the floor of Council in Toronto.
He will also return his Presidential Citation, awarded for his many contributions to the Association.
I have been a student affiliate member since my senior year in college and a member since 1971. I have been to every APA convention since 1974. In the nearly 40 years of my membership I have held many offices in APA on boards and committees and APA Council, as well as spending two years in APA Central Office as Director of the Office of Educational Affairs. APA has given me much and I have worked hard for the Association in return.
Yet, even as he resigns from the APA, he won’t be leaving History.
Resigning was not an easy decision for me. It is something that until recently I never imagined that I would do. APA has meant much to me and it pains me to leave the Association in this way. However, I feel that my own values do not mesh well with those of the Association’s leadership. I will continue to support the Society for the History of Psychology and maintain my membership there.
To join the Society for the History of Psychology, without first joining the American Psychological Association, find information here. For information about how to support the Archives of the History of American Psychology (both financially and in terms of donating historical materials), look here.