A team of students in the Digital Praxis Seminar at the CUNY Graduate Center is creating Beyond Citation, a website to aggregate bibliographic information about major academic databases in the humanities. Despite the ubiquity of academic databases, scholars are often unaware of the constraints that databases place on their research. Lack of information about the impact of database structures and content on research is an obstacle to scholarly inquiry because it means that scholars may not be aware of and cannot account for how databases affect their interpretations of search results or text analysis.
By providing structured information about databases and articles about research strategies, Beyond Citation will frame the common problems that scholars face when evaluating the results of their work in databases and take a step toward overcoming the lack of knowledge about the biases inherent in databases.
For Beyond Citation to have an impact, it is crucial that scholars visit the site, participate in discussions about research in databases and contribute their own information. Please let us know what you think about this idea and what you would like to see covered on the website. Reach us at BeyondCitation [at] gmail [dot] com or follow us on Twitter as we get ready for the launch in May: @beyondcitation
Eileen Clancy – Project Manager – (@clancynewyork) is a film and video archivist, and is currently majoring in Digital Humanities as a Thomas W. Smith academic fellow in the CUNY BA Program [cunyba.gc.cuny.edu]. She conceptualized Beyond Citation as a student in the Digital Praxis Seminar [dhpraxisf13.commons.gc.cuny.edu] at the CUNY Graduate Center. She is a founding principal of I-Witness Video, an archive that pioneered the systematic acquisition of digital video in databases with stills, text, and legal documents to resolve conflicting narratives of events.
She has presented at numerous law and academic conferences, and given talks on video activism and citizen journalism at the Center for Documentary Studies at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul; the Civil Rights Committee of the New York City Bar Association; and the Quinnipiac University School of Law. She is a co-author of reports documenting and analyzing the observations of human rights monitors in Northern Ireland.
Rebecca Federman – Editorial – is the Electronic Resources Coordinator and Culinary Collections Librarian at the New York Public Library. She is the co-project curator for What’s on the Menu?, the NYPL’s crowd-sourced menu transcription platform. She graduates from the CUNY Graduate Center with a Masters in Liberal Studies and a concentration in Digital Humanities in Spring, 2014. She received her B.A. in film studies from Vassar College, and her MLS from Pratt Institute.
Genevieve Johnson – Website designer – is a graduate of the CUNY Baccalaureate Program with a dual degree in Media Communication Arts and Media Communication Technology. She is an M.A. student in the Digital Humanities track at the CUNY Graduate Center.
David Naranjo – Outreach – (@david83ny) is a visual artist with a B.A in Film and Video and a Superior Diploma in Communication for Social Development. He is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Liberal Studies with a concentration in Digital Humanities at CUNY’s Graduate Center. David is part of the team of professionals and artists that founded the Secretary of Culture of Ecuador. In 2007 he was selected to be part of Cartagena’s International Film Festival for his scriptwriting achievements. In 2012 he was awarded with an international scholarship by the Secretary of Higher Education, Science, Technology and Innovation of Ecuador.
Marisa Plumb – Technical lead – is a writer who also works with software, sound, and video. Previous projects have used experimental narratives to explore concepts in information science and the ways we experience technology. She received her M.F.A. from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her B.A. from Brown University. She is currently part of the Digital Humanities program at the CUNY Graduate Center.
Beyond Citation originated from Eileen Clancy’s encounter with a blog post by Caleb McDaniel about historians’ research practices suggesting the creation of an “online repository” of information about proprietary databases. Reading blog posts by Ben Schmidt and Fred Gibbs and Trevor Owens further piqued her interest and enriched her ideas about the use of information as digitized data in the humanities.
Clancy’s thoughts about research by scholars in databases were deeply informed by the writing of historians Jo Guldi and James Mussell. Jo Guldi’s writing on digital humanities, databases and text analysis is indispensable to the study of digital historiography. (See this piece on technology and archives and this article about the techniques of the Digital Turn applied to the history of walking in London.) James Mussell’s work bridges the concerns of traditional humanists and digital practitioners instantiating a theory of digital history methods in the shift from documents to data. (See his book chapter on history as digital practice.)
CUNY Graduate Center librarians Jill Cirasella and Alycia Sellie; Hunter College librarian Steven Zweibel; and Rebecca Federman, librarian at the New York Public Library, made thoughtful comments on the nascent project idea. Micki Kaufman, Digital Fellow at the Graduate Center, graciously made suggestions about how the project might be useful to scholars. The encouragement, incisive comments and overarching guidance about the set of practices called digital humanities received from Digital Praxis Seminar professors Matthew K. Gold and Stephen Brier have been instrumental to conceptualizing Beyond Citation.