Duncan Dickinson: Creating an eResearch Desktop for the Humanities

Presentation slides

Extended abstract PDF


Duncan Dickinson and Peter Sefton (University of Southern Queensland)


The Australian Digital Futures Institute (ADFI) at the University of Southern Queensland (USQ) has been working with USQ’s Public Memory Research Centre (PMRC) to discover how public memory research can be assisted through desktop eResearch software that assists the researcher in connecting the components within their “Knowledge Network” of files, online resources, metadata, research notes and publications.

Leonie Jones from the PMRC has worked with Australian and Vietnamese servicemen to research the events of the Battle of Fire Support Base Coral to provide a point of reference in the ongoing narrative of Australian military history. “They'll come looking for you” is a 60-minute documentary that summarizes Jones' research and is the tip of the iceberg in terms of the artifacts brought together through this work which constitutes a wide array of public memory artifacts, including: video interviews, official texts, private diaries, photos and maps.

This partnership seeks to provide solutions for a range of questions encountered within the digital humanities and the broader eResearch effort:

(a) How to manage large amounts of information, including the very fundamental “Is it backed-up”

(b) How to coordinate tools used on the data;

(c) How to leverage concepts such as Linked Data without obstructing the researcher with technical intricacies; and

(d) How to move these research artifacts to the data commons.

The key to all of this is to treat everything as a web-resource from the moment it is created by developing a system that gives researchers a web-view of their own desktop or lab environment.

This presentation will introduce the desktop eResearch system, The Fascinator Desktop, and will demonstrate solutions to the questions posed above. Core to this demonstration will be: data and metadata storage, sharing and conversion technologies; taxonomy-based tagging; and automated object grouping.

About the speaker

Duncan DickinsonDuncan is the eResearch Project Manager for the Australian Digital Futures Institute at the University of Southern Queensland. He has been a software developer and project manager in a range of organisations. Duncan also has several years’ experience as a high-school teacher with Education Queensland. His interest areas are problem-solving and metacognition.

Duncan’s current projects focus on developing The Fascinator (http://fascinator.usq.edu.au) into an eResearch platform, especially for social science and education research.