Finding and using data
Digital humanities is powered by many different kinds of data. Humanities research can draw on digitised and born-digital material from the galleries, libraries, archives, and museums sector, data collected for different purposes, including demographic, economic, and other statistical data. It can scrape data from the web, including from social media platforms, and can create data in the process of research, including through interviews, surveys, and sensors.
The University Library supports access to a range of data sources, including vendor databases and open digital collections from galleries, libraries, archives and museums. Your Liaison Librarians can help you find and use data that is relevant to your research.
University Library digital collections
The University of Adelaide Library cares for a range of specialised archives and historical collections, many of which are accessible online.
Digitised collections are showcased online at Adelaide Connect. On this site you can explore the history of the University through digitised archival records, museum objects, personal papers, cultural & scientific artefacts, photographs, rare books and visual art.
You can also find some digitised material, theses, journal articles and other research outputs, through Adelaide Research and Scholarship, and you can search and browse the University of Adelaide Archives online. The Library is also home to Rare Books and Manuscripts collection, which can be browsed online, or searched through Library Search.
University of Adelaide collections have also been made available online through the Daisy Bates Digital Archive, and Ausstage, The Australian Live Performance Database.
Primary source databases
The University Library subscribes to a number of databases that provide access to a wide range of discipline specific digital collections and archives. Institutional access through the Library to databases such as Gale, Proquest and Adam Matthew Digital enable Humanities researchers to access a selection of curated content from archives across the world. Other sources such as Newsbank and Informit provide access to global and Australian contemporary news and policy sources.
While the scope of content provided through these databases is vast, researchers should keep in mind that digitised collections are not representative of all archives available. As a majority of archives remain undigitised, researchers should consider this limitation when utilising the digital databases and collections that are available through the library.
Trove is an online discovery tool and library database maintained by the National Library of Australia, connecting users and researchers to the digital collections across Australia, including libraries, museums, galleries, government and community organisations. Trove provides access to more than 6 billion digital items, including 160 million newspapers articles from nearly 1000 different publications.
Data from Trove is computationally accessible through the Trove Application Programming Interface (API), which provides data in a machine-readable form. Researchers and other non-commercial users can create a free account to apply for an API key.
Using the Trove API, researchers can harvest Trove data to export records, capture datasets for analysis and create tools, visualisations and applications. Trove provides a technical guide of the API to assist researchers, and case studies exhibiting how the API has been successfully utilised.
Trove also allows bulk download of two research relevant resources, the Australian Government Gazettes (1832 – 1968) and Australian Aborigines Advocate (1908 – 1928), without an API key.
Australian Data Archive
The Australian Data Archive is a national service for the collection, preservation and publication digital social science research data, through which researchers have access over 12,000 files.
Hosted through the Dataverse platform, researchers can access data sets free of charge (unless specified otherwise). Limited online analysis can be completed within the platform, or researchers can download datasets for external analysis.
A sample of the most popular data sets in the archive is available and provide examples of how data from the archive is being used in research. Australian Data Archive also manages appropriate access to sensitive data.
Research Data Australia
Supported by the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC), web portal and data discovery service Research Data Australia enables researchers to locate and access research data from Australian research organisations, government agencies, and cultural institutions, much of which is accessible for reuse and analysis.
The portal returns over 34,000 results for Humanities and Social Sciences data and the Cultures and Communities themed collection provides an overview of relevant datasets and initiatives from organisations around Australia. Research Data Australia also features tools and services for researchers organising their data, and enabling alternative research pathways.
The University of Adelaide figshare repository is harvested to Research Data Australia, helping make our community’s data more discoverable. In late 2020, 278 University of Adelaide data records could be found thorugh Research Data Australia, covering 945 subject areas.
ARDC provides Australian researchers, covering topics such as working with research software and research data. The ARDC also supports the Nectar Research Cloud, providing cloud computing infrastructure for researchers to store, access, and run data remotely, removing the need to purchase or host hardware. More information on Nectar is available via ITDS.
The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) is Australia’s primary institute for the ethical study and preservation of the cultures and societies of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The Institute provides online access to digitised collections and databases, including the MURA collection catalogue, which allows researchers to search for manuscript, books, serials, photographic, and audio-visual materials. Researchers can also search for images using the photographic collection. AIATSIS datasets, including the AUSTLANG information around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, which is free to access and download.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people should be aware that AIATSIS collection material may contain images, voices or names of deceased persons.