Reverse detail from Kakelbont MS 1, a fifteenth-century French Psalter. This image is in the public domain. Daniel Paul O'Donnell

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Cædmon Citation Network - Week 14

Posted: Sep 02, 2016 18:09;
Last Modified: Sep 02, 2016 18:09

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Hi all!

I spent this week putting information into the newly updated database. It works much faster than it did before, and is very intuitive to use. Dan mentioned that he would like to see some screenshots, so please enjoy the following images:

Here we see the front page of the database, with two text boxes, one for the Source and one for the Reference.

Options will pop up after you begin typing which makes adding sources and references super quick.

The Location box allows you to type the page number on which you found the reference in your source material (I simply type the number without any “p.” or “pg” preceding it) and the drop down box allows you to choose whether the reference is a Text Quote, Text Mention, Scholarly Reference, or Other Reference.

Clicking on the “View Entries” link allows you to view all of the entries that you have made. They are listed from oldest to newest in one big list.

So far I have had zero problems with the database, however I have been coming across a few snags with regards to gathering references from the sources. To use this first article by Lenore Abraham as an example, it is not noted anywhere which edition of Bede’s “History of the English Church and People” that she uses, she just simply gives the title. I am not sure how to figure this out, but feel that it is important to know as the edition cited is the most important piece of information that we are attempting to gather. I am concerned that a lot of other articles might omit this information as well, but I suppose we shall see as the collection continues. I was also curious as to whether or not we count the “about the author” blurbs when adding references. The beginnings of articles will occasionally list other pieces the author has published and I am not sure whether or not to count these as references. My initial instinct was to ignore them, as they do not necessarily have anything to do with the article in question, and if they are important they will be cited again further on, however I thought I would bring it up to be sure.

I am excited to continue collecting information. I will be back in Lethbridge for school on Tuesday, so I can start requesting inter-library loans again and keep our project rolling!

Until next week,

Colleen

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Cædmon Citation Network - Week 12+13

Posted: Aug 23, 2016 10:08;
Last Modified: Aug 23, 2016 10:08

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Hi all!

Summer is winding to a close, and our project continues to progress. The database is working, and is currently being made faster for even easier use. Books and articles are still being collected and scanned, and I am trying to split my time between scanning sources and collecting data.

At our last meeting Dan and I went over the exact specifications for the references I am collecting. Information is sorted into four types:

Text Quotes (TQ)

Text Mentions ™

Scholarly References (SR)

Other References (OR)

Text Quotes and Text Mentions come from editions, facsimiles, translations, and manuscripts, and only refer to Cædmon’s Hymn itself. Quotes are direct quotations from the poem, while mentions are references to other editions.

Scholarly References will consist of references made to anything other than Cædmon’s own words. This can include books and articles about the hymn or other topics, as well as supplementary text from the editions of the hymn.

Other References is simply a catch-all category for anything that does not fit into the previous three categories.

Unfortunately I have been having laptop issues and had to reinstall the operating system on my computer, losing some programs in the process. I am not sure if this will affect my GLOBUS endpoint, but I will try transferring some files later to determine if I need to figure all of that out again.

My goals for this week are to scan the ILL books that I currently have checked out, transfer all the files I have scanned to GLOBUS, and fine tune the way I collect my data from the books and articles. I have been finding that it is quicker to write down a large chunk of references on paper and then input the info to the database in one go. This may change as Garret makes the database quicker. The faster version of the database should be ready this week, but I do not currently have access to it so today will be a scanning day. I also plan to request another chunk of ILL books and articles from the library.

For next week’s blog I hope to write a sort of how-to guide on collecting information from the sources and inputting the info into the database. As the new semester starts in two weeks, I will have less time to spend on the project and I believe Dan plans on hiring more students to help the collection go faster. The how-to guide should ensure that we are all collecting data in the same way, and should ease any confusion that might cause errors. As the semester progresses I and whoever else might be working on the project can go through the data collection at a steady pace, and I can continue to collect and scan the sources needed to complete the bibliography.

Things seem to be on track, and hopefully the transition into the new semester will be smooth!

Until next week,

Colleen

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Cædmon Citation Network - Week 6

Posted: Jun 24, 2016 09:06;
Last Modified: Jun 24, 2016 09:06

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Hi all!

This week I have been gathering sources for the pieces in our Cædmon bibliography. This is not a speedy task by any means! I admit that I have felt a bit impatient with myself and have been concerned that I should be at the point where I am gathering data by now, but I try to remind myself that it is important to make sure that we have a complete pool of sources from which to pull data, otherwise people could poke holes in our findings when we are all done. All of the proper experimental procedures that I learned way back in 7th grade science fair still apply here!

Dan gave me the key to the Digital Humanities lab on Monday, and I was able to go in and dig through Rachel’s drawer in the filing cabinet from last summer. I was excited to find that she had a ton of articles in there that simply need to be scanned. This will be time consuming, but worth it to have them all organized in the GLOBUS folder and accessible to everyone in our group. I am wondering if when I scan articles if there is a way for the pdf’s of the scans to be grouped together or if each individual page will have to be put in order on the computer… I will have to see!

I was having trouble with GLOBUS yesterday, so I am meeting Gurpreet this afternoon to figure out what’s wrong. I updated to the new version of Windows a few days ago and it is causing my computer major hassles. I doubt that’s why I can’t get GLOBUS to work, but I would still like to blame Windows anyway.

My goals for next week are to have all of the articles from Rachel’s drawer scanned and transferred to GLOBUS and for everything that we don’t have from the Cædmon bibliography be requested or found on the internet. I will have to motor, but I think it is do-able. The database should be ready for me to start reading/counting the following Monday, and from that point on I can read, count, and determine whether or not we will need extra students hired to help get these 700 articles read!

Until next week!

Colleen

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Cædmon Citation Network - Week 4

Posted: Jun 11, 2016 10:06;
Last Modified: Jun 11, 2016 11:06

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Hello!

This blog comes to you a day later than usual, as Friday’s work ended up taking a lot longer than I thought and I ran out of time! To be honest, this week was spent much like last week: checking our Zotero bibliography against other bibliographies of Cædmon scholarship.

I ended up re-doing a bit of my work from last week, as I learned in my meeting with Dan on Monday that our scope was a bit wider than I had previously thought. I was worried that I had not been considering certain entries in the various bibliographies to be “about Cædmon enough”, so I decided to go through the entries again and add some that I may have missed. It makes sense to add more rather than less, as I can simply remove an article from the list if I read it and realise it has nothing to do with Cædmon. At the moment our bibliography is almost complete, and we have nearly 700 entries!

What are we going to do with this giant list of articles and books? Well, firstly I have to acquire access to each entry, either via JSTOR, inter-library loans, or through one of our library’s other databases. Then I read through EVERYTHING and count each quote and mention of Cædmon and note which of the approximately sixty different editions of the Hymn are cited. We have also decided to try and note every other citation as well. For example if one article about “Cædmon’s Hymn” cites a book about the history of peanut butter sandwiches, I will take note of it, as there may be other pieces of Cædmon scholarship that also cite that book about the history of peanut butter sandwiches. It will be interesting to see if there are identifiable relationships between writing about Cædmon and seemingly unrelated topics – not peanut-butter-sandwich-history obviously, I just haven’t eaten breakfast yet so I am giving you a delicious example.

How am I going to keep track of all this? Good question! We will need a database that I can use to mark down each citation as I come across them in my reading. On Monday Dan and I discussed at length what we will need from this database, and how we would like it to work. At first we were hoping something on Google Forms would do the trick for us, however we discovered as we talked that we need more control over our information than this tool would allow.

One problem emerged when we realised that among our gigantic list of 700 articles (and books, etc) we would find certain works that were actually editions of the Hymn not included in our original list of editions. We would need a way to add this piece to the Editions list… Several other concerns were raised as well, but to be honest I am finding them difficult to explain without drawing you all a little picture. (I should ask Dan how to add images to these blog posts!)

I mentioned at some point that I would pick the brain of my boyfriend, Garret Johnson, who has his degree in Computer Science from the University of Lethbridge and is my go-to person whenever I have a question about these sorts of things. Dan suggested that he could hire Garret to build our database if he would be willing, as someone with a programming background could probably produce what we need a lot faster than either Dan or I working on it ourselves. So that is our current plan! Garret will begin building us a database that will suit our needs and my job for next week will be to start acquiring the 700 articles and books on our list. By the end of next week I am sure I will have thoroughly annoyed the librarians at school with the amount of inter-library loans I will be requesting.

Until next week!

Colleen

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Cædmon Citation Network - Week 3

Posted: Jun 03, 2016 10:06;
Last Modified: Jun 03, 2016 10:06

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Hi all!

Another short post this week, but I will try to make up for it by posting more than one blog next week as I get further and further into the project!

Most of this week was spent methodically checking our body of Cædmon scholarship against various databases (all listed in my previous post). I felt a bit bad that it was going so slowly, as I do not want to lollygag in my work at all. Several things seemed to make the task slower than I hoped, however.

First of all, when I started going through the lists I would try and find access to each article or book that was missing from our body of scholarship as I became aware of it. I soon abandoned this practice and decided that I would create a running list of what we are missing FIRST, and then find access to these pieces as my next step.

I also found that many of the works we are missing were in a foreign language, which made my search for them (before I submitted to simply creating a list) more difficult. I will need to ask Dan if we are including foreign language articles in our data. If we are I will also need to figure out how I am going to comb the articles for quotes later on if we do decide to include them. I suppose quotes of the original will be written in Old English, so that is simple enough to pick out, but paraphrasing of the poem in something like Italian or German might prove difficult.

And finally I was a bit impeded by my own inability to figure out how to add new entries to our shared bibliography on Zotero. This is not a huge deal at the moment as I eventually decided to create a running list of missing pieces before finding sources, however I did waste quite a bit of time fighting with the program to add new entries before settling on this. This is something else that I’m sure Dan can help me with. I believe I might just need some sort of permission to add to the shared database.

In any case, next week should provide fodder for a some more interesting blog posts! It will be like a mystery: The Search For the Missing Cædmon Articles…

Until then,

Colleen

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Two tips that will improve the lives of all students and researchers in the Humanities and Social Sciences

Posted: Aug 16, 2014 13:08;
Last Modified: Aug 16, 2014 13:08

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Introduction

A recent question on Linked-in asked how important the formatting guides for journals are in preparing submissions.

Although this question was about submitting to journals, its context is relevant to all students and researchers in the Social Sciences and Humanities (although the problem also exists in the sciences, the solutions there are in some cases different). Humanities and Social Science study in University is largely about the collection of bibliography and the presentation of findings in written form. And that invariably involves questions of formatting: different disciplines and even different journals (or for students, instructors) within a discipline can require work to be submitted in quite different styles.

Contents

The bad old days

Twenty-five years ago, when I was an undergraduate, keeping track of and implementing these styles was a major problem: most students still typed their essays (some still even wrote them out by hand); and what wordprocessors there were were quite primitive (the first popular version of Windows, for example, and with it, the first really successful version of Word, came out the year after I went to Graduate School). Public library catalogues were still largely on paper or microfiche, and, most crucially, there was no World Wide Web.

In those days, ensuring your essay or article submission followed the correct format was a very time consuming task. And things got a lot worse if you needed to reformat something for submission elsewhere—e.g. sending a rejected article to a different journal or reformatting an essay for use as a dissertation chapter or to journal submission. Moreover, authors needed to know a number of different citation formats: APA, MLA, Harvard, and so on. There were few if any tools to help you automate this task (or if there were, I didn’t know about them). The only way of doing it accurately was to consult the relevant style guide and look for examples of the type of work you wanted to format (e.g. single-author mongraphs, chapters in edited collections, etc.).

Modern tools and practices

Things are a lot different today. Wordprocessors are much better and (free) tools exist to take care of your bibliographic management. If you still find yourself stressed by formatting tasks, it means you doing things wrong.

The next two posts will explain two basic practices and tools that anybody who works or studies the Social Sciences and Humanities should know about—and use if they would prefer to spend their time researching and writing rather than formatting their work.

The first post, on using wordprocessor styles, addresses the issue of formatting text for submission to instructors or journals for publication. It shows you how you can use the “style” function found in all popular contemporary wordprocessors to ensure consistency across the entire document: make sure all your headings are formatted the same way (or, if you have different levels of headings, that the headings at each level are formatted the same way); make sure that all block quotations have the same margins; that all paragraphs have the same first line indentations. And then change all of these across the entire document automatically and in seconds, if you discover that a particular instructor or journal wants things formatted differently.

The second post, on using citation managers, addresses the more specialised issue of collecting bibliography and formatting citations correctly. It shows you how a citation manager can take over this task almost entirely. Modern citation managers allow you to collect bibliography directly and automatically from library catalogues, many journal articles, and sites like Amazon.com (some even allow you to add books by photographing the barcodes on their dust jackets). They then integrate with your wordprocess to allow you to add citations as you write—they allow you to go through the material you have collected looking for the items you want and then, once you have found what you want, insert the citation into the text and bibliography of your essay at the click of a button. As with wordprocessor styles, moreover, citation managers also automatically handle the tediously detailed work of making sure your bibliographic entries conform to the format demanded by your instructor or journal: with a click of a button, you can change from APA to MLA to Chicago, or even, in some cases, design your own format.

Why you should care

Too many students and even professional researchers in the humanities and social sciences waste time doing unnecessary formatting tasks. By using wordprocessing styles and citation managers, it is possible to reduce the amount of effort these basic tasks require to almost nothing. If you are an advanced student or researcher, adopting these approaches will improve your efficiency several fold as soon as you can get used to the new way of working. This is especially true if you are working on a book or thesis that will involve maintaining consistency of format and citation style across a number of different chapters (in fact, if you are in that situation, I’d recommend stopping what you are doing and taking a couple of days to implement these right now—they improve things that much).

If you are just beginning your time as a university student, I recommend adopting them even more strongly: now is the time to get used to good habits that will save you time further down the road and you might be surprised how often you end up reusing citations and bibliography you acquire this year for the first time.

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