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Machine Reading the Archive Projects - FAQ

Interested in applying to Machine Reading the Archive Projects? Read our FAQ here.

Machine Reading the Archive Projects provides PhD students and staff at the University of Cambridge individual mentoring and support in developing a digital archives project. MRtA Projects is part of the Machine Reading the Archive digital methods programme which is offered by Cambridge Digital Humanities in collaboration with the Faculty of History. 

Selected participants for MRtA Projects will be offered 4 x 1 hour individual/paired mentoring sessions with our Digital Methods Fellows, Dr Gabe Recchia and Dr Paul Nulty and 1 x 1 hour individual session on collaboration, networking and funding opportunities with Dr Anne Alexander, Cambridge Digital Humanities Network Coordinator. The sessions will be arranged at mutually convenient times between December 2017 and June 2018. Successful applicants will also be expected to give a short presentation about their project at the end-of-programme workshop in June 2018.

How many projects will you be supporting in 2017/8?

We are planning to support between 5-7 projects this year

What kind of digital archive projects do you support?

We are open to proposals which explore any aspect of the creation, curation, management, analysis and publication of digital archival data. This includes projects working with digitised archival data (such as scanned images or pdfs of material texts and objects) and projects working with 'born-digital' archival data (such as emails, digital documents, transcriptions, metadata or html files).

Your project may relate to a digital archive that you have created yourself, for example through visiting archives and taking digital photographs of documents for study and analysis 'off-site', or it may involve collection and analysis of data from someone else's digital archive project.

I am not sure which digital methods are right for my project: is this the right programme for me?

Yes you are welcome to apply. If we select your project we will support your experimentation with different methods, with the aim of helping you scope what is available and suitable for the questions you want to answer and make a better-informed choice about what to add to your methodological toolkit. The key thing is to have clearly formed questions to answer or problems to solve, and to be prepared to experiment.

I have no prior experience of programming - can I apply?

Yes. We are happy to consider applications from researchers with no programming experience. One of the aims of MRtA Projects is to help you with the process of scoping out which digital methods are right for your research. Your mentor will offer hands-on, practical tuition and support wherever possible, or provide advice on how to access self-directed learning or courses from other training providers.

What is the time commitment?

The minimum time commitment is 5 hours of mentoring sessions over six months, plus attendance at the final half-day workshop. We strongly advise participants to attend relevant sessions in the Machine Reading the Archive programme and we can advise you on other training sessions and research workshops which will complement the work you are doing on your project.

Do have I have to own the data I am using in my project?

No, but we will need to work with you to identify whether you can obtain the rights to use the data during the programme and we will ask you to be prepare a 'Plan B' in case you cannot achieve this. For example, if you need to apply to a publisher for access to a digital corpus for text and data-mining we may propose alternative open-access corpora which will allow you to explore the methods you want to use in your project in a test corpus.

I am not a researcher, can I apply?

Yes. If you are a librarian, computer officer, archivist, employee of Cambridge University Press you are very welcome to apply for the programme, provided you are able to commit the time for the mentoring sessions and you are employed by the University, one of the Colleges or CUP.

I am not a PhD student or staff at the University of Cambridge, can I apply?

No, unfortunately we cannot offer MRtA projects outside the university. However the end of programme workshop and some of our advanced workshops will be open for public booking or applications. Please sign up for the Digital Humanities mailing list to receive notifications about public events related to the programme.

Any more questions? Contact Dr Anne Alexander for more information on the programme.

MRtA Projects runs December 2017 - June 2018.







We are a network of researchers at the University of Cambridge who are interested in how the use of digital tools is transforming scholarship in the humanities and social sciences. This transformation spans both the content and practice of humanities research, as the diffusion of digital technologies opens up new fields of study and generates research questions which breach traditional disciplinary boundaries.

Upcoming events

Democracy by Design: Activists, Apps and Activist Apps

Jan 22, 2018

S2, Alison Richard Building

Protest Event Analysis: a practical introduction

Jan 25, 2018

B4, Criminology, Sidgwick Site

Social Media Data and Research Ethics: Challenges and Opportunities

Feb 13, 2018

Room 5, Mill Lane Lecture Rooms

Upcoming events

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