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Drexel CCI Researchers Improve Interdisciplinary Research Practices to Better Include Information Professionals

June 21, 2018

College of Computing & Informatics (CCI) Assistant Professor Alex Poole, PhD and doctoral student Deborah Garwood recently published two articles on international digital humanities research, which uncover new findings in interdisciplinary research best practices as evidenced in the Digging into Data Challenge (DID) grant.

Their first article, titled “’Natural allies’: Librarians, archivists, and big data in international digital humanities project work,” was published in the February 2018 issue of The Journal of Documentation. Through a qualitative case study on eleven DID projects, the paper answers the question: what roles do librarians and archivists take on in data-intensive, interdisciplinary and international digital humanities projects? Poole and Garwood found that librarians and archivists were involved officially in 3 of the 11 projects, but that information professionals played vital unofficial roles in these projects as consultants, liaisons and as technical support, assisting with issues such as visualization, rights management, and user testing. With recommendations from DID participants on how librarians and archivists might further support digital humanities projects, their research uncovered that much untapped potential exists for collaboration, due to a knowledge gap between researcher awareness and information professionals’ capacity.

Their second article, titled “Project management as information management in interdisciplinary research: ‘Lots of different pieces working together,’” was published in the March 2018 issue of the International Journal of Information Management, and takes a deeper look at the value of project managers in interdisciplinary research, specifically in the DID grant. Garwood and Poole’s research shows that project managers were instrumental in coordinating project resources for the DID grant, especially regarding governance issues, data handling and data sharing across international boundaries. They recommend project manager documentation as a mechanism for ensuring data integrity and its readiness for valuation metrics at project’s end. They also suggest that future research may explore the merits of mandating formally trained project managers versus supporting academic mentoring trends for project-based training, which apply domain-specific expertise to the role and enable research teams to exercise autonomy.

Garwood is a PhD in Information Science student and a 2016 graduate of CCI’s MS in Library and Information Science program. She completed an internship at The American Museum of Natural History in New York, NY. Her current research interests are curation, metadata and digital humanities. Garwood presented a conference poster at the 2016 DCMI International Conference on Dublin Core and Metadata Applications in Copenhagen, Denmark, and contributed a student paper to ARCHIVES*RECORDS 2016: The Joint Annual Meeting of the Council of State Archivists and the Society of American Archivists. Prior to pursuing doctoral studies, her interests as an independent scholar and art critic included art criticism, cultural criticism, world literatures, and literary theory. Garwood previously studied studio art at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in Canada as part of her liberal arts degree at Oberlin College. She also earned a master of fine arts in sculpture at Hunter College, City University of New York (CUNY).

Poole’s research interests include digital curation, digital humanities, diversity and inclusivity, and archives and records. His work has been published in The American Archivist, The Journal of the Association of Information Science and TechnologyDigital Humanities QuarterlyThe Journal of DocumentationArchival Science, and Information and Culture. In 2017, he was elected vice-chair/chair-elect of the Archival History Section of the SAA, to the Steering Committee of the Archival Educators Section, and to the SAA Graduate Archival Education Subcommittee. He is the 2017 recipient of the Bob Williams History Fund Research Award from the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T) for his paper, "'Could my dark hands break through the dark shadow?' The North Carolina Negro Library Association's War on Information Poverty in the Long Civil Rights Movement, 1935-1955" (Library Quarterly, forthcoming). He also received the Theodore Calvin Pease Award from the Society of American Archivists for “The Strange Career of Jim Crow Archives: Race, Space, and History in the Mid-Twentieth Century American South.” Poole earned a BA in history (highest honors) from Williams College, an MA in history from Brown University, an MS in library science (Beta Phi Mu) and a PhD in information science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.