Research

Posts about citation management, library guides, discovery tools such as the Catalog, betas, summer tips for B.A. writers, online portals, tools.

Librarians and faculty collaborate on digital scholarship

Social scientists, humanists, and business faculty work with Library experts

Professor Hornbeck points to digitized census page during discussion with Kathleen Arthur and Sherry Byrne

Professor Hornbeck (center) discusses the digitization process for the Census of Manufacturers with Head of Digitization Kathleen Arthur (right) and Preservation Librarian Sherry Byrne. (Photo by Eddie Quinones)

Social scientists, humanists, and business faculty across the University of Chicago campus are rapidly adopting and inventing new digital tools and techniques. Whether they seek to analyze 19th-century American manufacturing, the ruins of the ancient walled city of Sam’al, or the transmission history of Hamlet, UChicago scholars and students are employing new digital approaches to gathering, analyzing, preserving and sharing their data and scholarly findings. As they do so, Library staff members with expertise in everything from digitization to GIS to digital data curation and archiving are developing innovative ways to collaborate with faculty to advance digital scholarship.

Gathering and digitizing data from the Census of Manufacturers

The U.S. Census of Manufacturers has the potential to be an internationally recognized resource, Professor of Economics Richard Hornbeck explains—as important for academic research as the census data on individuals available currently through IPUMs and Ancestry.com. Conducted every decade from 1850 to 1900, the Census of Manufacturers gathered firm names, product types, production quantities, and values for every establishment producing more than $500 worth of manufactured goods. Census takers also collected input data on capital stock, raw materials, power source, wages, and employment. If combined into a machine-readable format in one accessible location, the complete census data would become a powerful tool for understanding 19th-century manufacturing across the United States and in specific regions.

And yet, up to this point, the establishment-level data has never been accessible to researchers in one location. The Census Bureau has compiled and published county-level and county-by-industry summaries, but the firm-level data has been scattered across the country in different archives, libraries, and historical societies, in formats ranging from original handwritten records to microfilmed copies. That will change for data from 1850 to 1880, thanks to a collaborative digitization effort now underway, led by Professor Hornbeck, who has enlisted a team of professional and student research assistants, as well as Sherry Byrne, Preservation Librarian; Kathleen Arthur, Head of Digitization; Emily Treptow, Business and Economics Librarian for Instruction and Outreach; and Elisabeth Long, Associate University Librarian for IT and Digital Scholarship.

The project began in 2016. Early on, Hornbeck approached Treptow, Byrne, and Arthur with questions about how to digitize microfilm, including more than 100 rolls that Vanderbilt Professor Emeritus Jeremy Atack had been storing in his basement and more than 90 rolls located at a dozen archives, libraries, and historical societies across the country from the New Hampshire State Archives to the University of Arkansas and the Center for Research Libraries.

Although Hornbeck and research professional Julius Luettge located most of the microfilm themselves, the trusted relationships that the University of Chicago Library has established with other research institutions enabled Byrne to borrow and oversee the digitization of items that would not have been released to an individual researcher.

The Library’s experts have also advised on numerous matters along the way, such as how to create high-quality scans of manuscript materials and good metadata. “A project of this nature could easily be overwhelming,” Hornbeck said. “It’s great to have library professionals watching over this.”

Other faculty members pursuing complex digitization projects like this one are invited to contact the Library to discuss the possibility of collaborating. “Researchers benefit from guidance from Library staff on strategies for organizing and executing digital project work,” explained Long. “We can facilitate project components that are new to researchers.” Such cooperation has left Professor Hornbeck with more time to focus on analyzing his data. He is currently working with Martin Rotemberg at NYU to examine the substantial growth in American manufacturing from 1850 to 1880 and to estimate how the expanding railroad network impacted manufacturing productivity.

UChicago faculty, students, and staff working on the digitization of the U.S. Census of Manufacturers include, from left, Preservation Librarian Sherry Byrne, undergraduate research assistants Anselm Jia and Guozhen (Gordon) Ji, research professional Andrea Cerrato, Professor of Economics and Neubauer Family Faculty Fellow Richard Hornbeck, research professional Will Cockriel, undergraduate research assistants Gyeom Kim and David Ardila, and Head of Digitization Kathleen Arthur. (Photo by Eddie Quinones)

Teaching GIS

Taylor Hixson describes her job as “helping anyone who is new to the field of GIS.” Brought on board as the Resident Librarian for Geographic Information Systems in Fall 2016, she helps faculty and students find data sources and advises faculty on how they can organize, preserve, and share their geographic data with others: for instance, by creating metadata, by depositing data in the University’s digital repository, Knowledge@UChicago; and by making data accessible through the Big Ten Academic Alliance Geoportal at geo.btaa.org.

Hixson maintains office hours in the Maps Collection in Regenstein Library, offers GIS workshops throughout the academic year, and assists individuals by appointment. She also provides customized training for students in particular classes upon faculty request.

Last year, Susan Burns, Associate Professor of Japanese History, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the College, contacted Hixson as she was planning the GIS components of a course on Edo/Tokyo: Society and the City in Japan. Burns’s class attracted everyone from first-year College students to second-year graduate students, who entered with diverse backgrounds in Arc-GIS and historical research methods. Hixson was able to provide training for students at all levels.

After each of four class periods devoted to introducing basic Arc skills, Hixson held review sessions for students who wanted more help. She also worked individually with students on using the Esri Story Map platform for their final projects, mapping everything from schools to bathhouses to public protests. “Many students expressed to me how grateful they were for Taylor’s help, and of course, I am as well,” Burns said.

Hixson’s first year at the Library has proven that there is demand for GIS Services from faculty and students across schools and divisions. The demonstration of this need has confirmed the Library’s decision to hire a GIS and Maps Librarian who will continue to develop the Library’s GIS program.

OCHRE and the Library’s infrastructure for description, discovery, and archiving services

When archaeologist David Schloen and database specialist Sandra Schloen began working to create OCHRE—the Online Cultural and Historical Research Environment at the Oriental Institute—they knew they wanted to design a customized user interface to record, integrate, analyze, publish, and preserve texts from the Ancient Near East, including some of the most difficult ancient languages to model in a database environment. To fulfill their vision, they needed a partner who could provide an infrastructure that would power their project.

Map view of OCHRE interface

The map view interface in OCHRE, showing Tell Keisan excavation locations. (Courtesy of Miller Prosser)

The Schloens turned to Charles Blair, Director of the Digital Library Development Center, and ever since he has led the Library team that hosts OCHRE’s high-performance database system as it has grown to support roughly 30 projects in fields from philology to archaeology to history. Each has its own framework for organizing data that is tailored to the needs of the project. One project currently underway, Critical Editions for Digital Analysis and Research (CEDAR), will provide a single software environment where scholars can trace textual variants and explore the transmission of major literary traditions. Initial test cases will be the first eleven chapters of the Book of Genesis, the Sumerian copies of the Gilgamesh Epic, and the various early printings of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

Blair and a Library Unix systems administrator, Fred Seaton, maintain the OCHRE database server and advise on archival procedures for the curation of project data. “Deeply rooted in the library tradition, Charles has a watchful eye on the future and is committed to helping the OCHRE Data Service devise and implement strategies to ensure the long-term viability and accessibility of our data,” said David Schloen, Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology.

“Charles and the Library are natural partners for the Schloens on the OCHRE Data Service because we all share a commitment to providing services and features that satisfy the full cycle of data management,” explained Long. Blair had already led the Library team that built an infrastructure to support Library databases such as the University of Chicago Photographic Archive and the Special Collections Finding Aids, and other University projects such as the Project for American and French Research on the Treasury of the French Language (ARTFL) and a collection of digital images for teaching, LUNA.

“OCHRE was able to leverage our existing infrastructure for description, discovery, and archiving services, and we would be happy to provide the same type of service to other University of Chicago faculty and staff who have their own development teams but need an infrastructure for their interface,” explained Blair.

OCHRE database screenshot

The OCHRE database allows users to view photographs of artifacts (here, Ras Shamra tablets) alongside associated machine-readable data such as descriptions, epigraphs, interpretive information, transliterations, and translations.

New librarians exploring new frontiers

The Library is taking numerous steps to expand its staff expertise and its work in digital scholarship in the coming months and years. Library Director and University Librarian Brenda Johnson recently announced the imminent launch of a Center for Digital Scholarship at the Library. In addition to hiring a Director for this new Center and a GIS and Maps Librarian, the Library is preparing to hire a Social Sciences Data Librarian, a Scholarly Communication Librarian, and a Biomedical Data Librarian who will increase the Library’s capacity to provide innovative digital research and teaching services. The Library is also proposing with the Energy Policy Institute at UChicago to bring on board a two-year Council on Library and Information Resources Postdoctoral Fellow who would focus on building the understanding and infrastructure necessary for managing data critical to the study of energy, environmental science, and climate change.

One of the services open to UChicago faculty in every field is Knowledge@UChicago, a digital repository that preserves and shares the scholarly, creative, and administrative assets of the University. Faculty are encouraged to deposit their scholarly articles and small data sets at this time, and plans will soon be made to expand the repository’s capacity when the new Scholarly Communication Librarian joins the Library. Visit knowledge.uchicago.edu for more information.

The Black Metropolis Research Consortium connects researchers, archives, and communities

The BMRC moves to the Library, updates its summer fellowship program, and welcomes a new executive director

The Black Metropolis Research Consortium (BMRC) has settled into its new Library home. Housed at the University of Chicago, the 12-year-old BMRC is a consortium of more than 20 libraries, universities, and other archival institutions that hold materials documenting African American and African diasporic culture, history, and politics, with a specific focus on materials relating to Chicago. In the summer of 2016, the BMRC moved from the Provost’s office to the University of Chicago Library, where shared goals of community engagement and facilitating access to research collections have created a dynamic partnership.

Summer Short-term Fellowship Program

Left to right, first row: Ashlie Sandoval (Fellow), Ruby Mendenhall (Fellow), LaVerne Gray (Fellow), Anita Mechler (BMRC Project Manager/Archivist), Sonja Williams (Fellow); Second row: Steven Adams (BMRC Board Chair), James West (Fellow), Misty De Berry (Fellow), Leroy Kennedy (BMRC Board Trustee Emeritus), Douglas Williams (Fellow). (Photo by Jean Lachat)

The BMRC’s flagship Summer Short-term Fellowship Program, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, engages doctoral candidates, postdoctoral scholars, artists, writers, and public historians from the United States and Europe to better formulate new historical narratives of Chicago’s African American past based on research collections housed at BMRC member institutions. It offers one-month Chicago-based residential fellowships to scholars chosen through an international competition. Starting in 2015, the BMRC introduced a cohort model, soliciting proposals on a few specific subjects in order to foster a community-focused environment for the Fellows and to increase interaction among those working on related subjects. This year’s focus was Design, Urban Design, and Architecture and drew scholars from institutions as close to home as Northwestern and the University of Chicago and as far away as Berkeley, Howard, and the University of Birmingham. From the evolution of food deserts to the impact of public housing architecture on communities, the BMRC 2017 Summer Fellows delved into Chicago-area archives for insight into the history of Chicago’s African American community.

In addition to creating opportunities for scholars and artists to conduct primary research in Chicago-based archival repositories, the goal of the Summer Short-term Research Fellowship Program is to engage the local Chicago community in the history of their city. Therefore, Fellows are asked to present their preliminary findings at one of several evening events at venues across the city. In 2017, presentation events were hosted at the Chicago History Museum, the Carruthers Center for Inner City Studies at Northeastern Illinois University, the Union League Club of Chicago, and the Stony Island Arts Bank of the Rebuild Foundation. Topics such as “Staging Equity: The Evolution of Carceral Architecture in African American Communities in Chicago” and “Chiseling, Welding, and Painting: A Chicago Landscape’s Casting of a Black Artist” drew audiences of roughly 50 people each and provided an opportunity for lively discussion.

New Executive Director Andrea Jackson

Photograph of Andrea Jackson, Executive Director of the Black Metropolis Research Consortium

Andrea Jackson

In September, the Library welcomed Andrea Jackson as the new executive director for the BMRC. Jackson comes from the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library, where she received a 2016 Library Leadership Award. She has experience acquiring, preserving, and making accessible the historical legacy and records of African Americans and has experience with a broad range of constituencies that will inform the development of engaging programs. This background will be invaluable as the BMRC undertakes a strategic planning process to map out future goals and initiatives.

Open Access Week

The week of October 23-29 is International Open Access Week, an annual celebration to raise awareness of the issue of access to published scholarly research.

Open Access logo

Open Access

What is Open Access?

Open access is access to published scholarly research that is free of most copyright and licensing restrictions and free of charge to any reader anywhere.  Learn more at our guide to open access.

How you can participate in Open Access Initiatives?

  • Publish in an Open Access publication so that everyone immediately and always has free access to your work.  Check the Directory of Open Access Journals to find high quality, open access, peer-reviewed journals.
  • Make your work available in an open repository.  The Library also now offers a digital repository for faculty, staff and students to deposit their scholarly articles and (at this time) small dataset to share. Visit knowledge.uchicago.edu for more information about our repository.
  • Use open access journals for your research. All journals published by the Public Library of Science are open access, as are all the publication of the Open Library of the Humanities.

Congratulations to Richard Thaler, Chicago Booth’s newest Nobel laureate

Richard Thaler, the Charles R. Walgreen Distinguished Service Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, was awarded the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for 2017. Thaler was recognized for his seminal research in behavioral economics, which  posits that people don’t always act in their best economic interests, a very different view from the traditional Chicago School of Economics. He popularized the idea of nudges, which use human behavior to nudge people into making better economic choices, such as making participation in retirement saving plans opt-out, rather than opt-in.

The Library maintains a selected bibliography of Professor Thaler’s publications, which can be viewed here. Most links to articles will only be accessible on campus, but our ProxyIt! tool makes it simple for current students to get access.

Many of Professor Thaler’s early articles in behavioral economics were published in the Journal of Economic Perspectives. This journal is now open access, so all articles in the journal are free to anyone. View a list of articles here.

New GIS Computers in Map Collection

The Regenstein Library Map Collection has installed three new computers to support research using GIS and spatial analysis. These computers are available for use during regular Map Collection hours.

The following software is available:

  • ArcGIS for Desktop 10.5.1
  • ArcGIS Pro 2.0.0
  • ArcGIS Maps for Office (Excel, PowerPoint)
  • GeoDa
  • QGIS
  • Google Earth Pro
  • Adobe Creative Suite 5
  • R and R Studio
  • Stata
  • vLab

Picture of all three new computers in map collectionThe computers have dual, high-resolution monitors and 32 GB RAM. Box Sync is also available on these computers for users to connect and save data between the desktop software and Box, which provides UChicago users with unlimited storage space.

Additional technology in the Map Collection includes a large format and a flatbed scanner, a microform reader, and data resources from China Data Center and Geolytics.

GIS software and support is also available in Crerar Library, where the library’s computers have ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Pro, GeoDa, QGIS, and Google Earth Pro as well as a connection to vLab.

For questions about these computers or how the library supports GIS and spatial data, contact Resident Librarian for GIS Taylor Hixson (taylorhixson@uchicago.edu), or visit her in the Map Collection during walk-in GIS office hours Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. during the academic quarters.

Consult the library’s research guides for more information about getting started with GIS and finding spatial data and maps.

My Library Account improvements

The Library has released a new version of My Library Account (formerly My Account), offering enhancements and new features:

  • Displays have been improved, especially on mobile devices.
  • Checked out items are sorted by due date, so items due soon appear at the top of the list.
  • Checked out items can also be sorted by title, author, call number, loan type, etc.
  • Alerts appear for recalled items, items due soon, overdue items, etc.
  • Interlibrary loan, course reserves, and short term loans display information about their loan period and whether they are eligible for renewal.
  • Faculty can view which items on their accounts were checked out by proxy borrowers.
  • Requested items more clearly display whether they are available for pickup.
  • Quick links have been added to other Library accounts (Interlibrary Loan, Special Collections, Course Reserves).

See My Library Account Help for more information.

The new Checked out Items screen; items due soon appear at the top of the list.

The new Checked out Items screen; items due soon appear at the top of the list.

New research guide for finding maps

Screen capture of the new finding maps research guide home page.Consulting maps is often a crucial part of primary source research, but knowing how and where to locate the right maps for research can prove challenging.

The Library’s new research guide for finding maps can help demystify that process. The guide has resources to assist with:

  • searching for maps
  • finding maps at the University of Chicago
  • map resources online
  • U.S. Census maps

To learn more about the University of Chicago’s Map Collection, visit the Map Collection’s main web page or the physical collection in Regenstein Library room 370 Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Friday 12-5 p.m. during the academic quarter and Monday-Friday from 12-5p.m. during the interim.

Contact Sam Brown (sbb@uchicago.edu) with questions about using the map collection. Contact Taylor Hixson (taylorhixson@uchicago.edu) with comments or questions about the guide.

Tips for Fair Use Week

To celebrate Fair Use Week, the Library is sharing tips on fair use and how the principle enhances scholarship.

Have you ever . . .

  • used library course e-reserves?
  • quoted an author for a review or critique?
  • copied computer code to make a new program?
  • visited a contemporary art exhibition?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have benefited from fair use.

Copyright law provides for the “fair use” principle that allows for the reproduction of copyright works for certain limited, educational purposes. Some people think fair use is a minor exception or marginal carve-out from the expansive protection for authors, but fair use is your fundamental right. The goal of copyright law is to foster the progress of science, the creation of culture, and the dissemination of ideas.

Fair use is crucial for academia. Scholars copy, quote, and adapt cultural and scientific material when informing their own research, or participating in the scholarly conversation:  Historians regularly quote primary sources; filmmakers reinterpret and critique copyrighted material; sociologists document culture with textual, visual, and musical examples. Much of this scholarship will count as fair use and not require permission, but each has to be evaluated individually.

There are no easy, clear cut rules to determine whether something is fair use, and there have certainly been some high-profile cases contesting the matter. While using only a small amount of a work can often weigh in the favor of fair use, in a case about the Gerald Ford diaries, even a short quotation was counted as violation because it revealed the “heart of the book” and the diaries were as yet unpublished. In another case, three academic publishers filed suit against Georgia State University for “pervasive, flagrant, and ongoing unauthorized distribution of copyrighted materials” through the the library’s e-reserve system, and yet the court found that 94 of the 99 instances did fall under fair use and were not a violation.

To determine that the use is “fair,” judges tend to ask two key analytical questions:

  • Did the use “transform” the material taken from the copyrighted work by using it for a broadly beneficial purpose different from that of the original, or did it just repeat the work for the same intent and value as the original?
  • Was the material taken appropriate in kind and amount, considering the nature of the copyrighted work and use?

These two questions effectively summarize the four factors of fair use: purpose, nature, amount, and effect. Before assuming your use is fair, consider these four factors.

The Library, in collaboration with IT Services, the Provost’s Office, and the Office of Legal Counsel have developed a website to help you understand copyright, its intricacies, and fair use. Importantly, the website includes a Fair Use Checklist to help you navigate the four factors.

The Library also invites you to visit our guide on fair use to learn more and see how you can take advantage of fair use in your classroom.

This news story has been informed by the Fair Use Fundamentals infographic, as well as the Code of Best Practices in Fair Use for Academic and Research Libraries.

Top 100 articles of 2016 according to Altmetric

Altmetric has released its list of the top 100 articles of 2016, and the #1 article was written by a former UChicago faculty member (and soon-to-be former POTUS): Altmetric donut

Obama B. United States Health Care Reform: Progress to Date and Next Steps. JAMA. 2016;316(5):525-532. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.9797

The list is based on each article’s Attention Score, which is calculated by the conversations about the article that occur in places like news outlets, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and more.  The article above had a score of 8063; it is the number inside an Altmetric “donut” pictured here.

Read more about various research metrics on the Research Impact guide: http://guides.lib.uchicago.edu/researchimpact

New Human Genome Resources site now available

The new Human Genome Resources site offers access to visualization and analysis tools available for the human genome, as well as other relevant tools like BLAST, the NCBI remapping service and databases that provide human molecular data. The resources are sorted into categories like Find, View, Download and Learn, making it easier to find what you need.

With the new site, you can:

In addition, the portal includes an extensive listing of learning resources that may help you have a better understanding of the wealth of information associated with the human genome.