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Technical Advice

If you're contemplating or embarking on a digital humanities project you've probably given some thought to the technologies you want to use and may already have a certain amount of expertise and infrastructure to draw on.  But there may be some aspects you're unsure of or haven't yet considered (e.g. data security and storage, IPR issues, the long-term sustainability of the digital resources you create).

A key role of the Digital Humanities network is to put you in touch with others who can provide you with appropriate and timely advice and support.  In some cases this will simply involve some informal conversations with people who've undertaken similar projects. In others, it may lead to more formal project collaborations.

In Cambridge, there are many sources of advice and support on technical matters.  You may be able to call on departmental computer officers or take advantage of training provided by the University Computing Service (UCS). The Cambridge Digital Library team and DSpace@Cambridge repository service within the University Library, and the Centre for Applied Research in Technology (CARET) have been actively engaged with the digital humanities, leading or supporting several of the digital humanities projects listed in the Network's project directory.

As a result of the University's recent General Board Review of Teaching and Learning Support Services, CARET is now formally a unit within the University Library and is working increasingly closely with the UL's Electronic Services and Systems department (ESS).  As time goes on you can expect these two groups to be operating as more of a single unit.
 

Advice and guidance

The UL and CARET have been involved in many digital humanities projects over the past few years: as project leads, content providers, technical or development support, and through the services such as CamTools or the DSpace@Cambridge institutional repository.  Neither the UL nor CARET claim to have comprehensive coverage of the digital humanities and expertise in all areas, but combined they do have a lot of experience and can also draw on networks across and beyond Cambridge.  While UL/CARET are not resourced to provide unlimited support, its staff can usually find some time to talk with those who are planning projects or have particular queries.  For example, you might find it useful to talk with them on the choice of standards or technologies, seek advice on completing some parts of an AHRC technical appendix, or discuss issues around digital rights.

One area where the UL is specifically resourced to provide advice and support is its repository service, DSpace@Cambridge (http://www.dspace.cam.ac.uk/).  The repository team can provide advice on publication- and research data management, and supports storage and dissemination of data and research outputs in the DSpace@Cambridge institutional repository.  Good management of research data is of increasing concern to funders such as the AHRC and or ESRC, so the DSpace@Cambridge team has put together some further information and links about Data Support for this network.

 

Collaboration

For some projects, it might make sense for the UL or CARET to play a more active role within a project – perhaps providing content, digitisation services, technical or development support, online delivery, or long-term storage and preservation.  If this seems worth pursuing it is important to make contact as early in the project planning as possible.

Where a project is focused on archives, rare books or manuscripts from the UL's special collections it must consult with the Library. The collection's curator is often the best person to speak with in the first instance, but if large-scale digitisation or transcription is envisaged, you should also contact the Library's Digitisation and Digital Preservation Manager.

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The UL and CARET are developing sophisticated infrastructure to support the creation and presentation of digital facsimiles and digital editions (see http://cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/ and http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/).  If your project involves the creation of online collections or an online edition, then it may be possible to use or adapt some of this infrastructure to support your project.  Or if more specialised development is required, then CARET staff may be able to provide systems support, software developers or designers.  Such support or development would nomally need to be costed into project bids.

As noted above, the DSpace@Cambridge repository supports storage and dissemination of data and research outputs in the DSpace@Cambridge institutional repository. Where a project expects to create substantial or complicated content, it is vital that this is discussed early with the repository team so this can be planned and budgeted for.