Research with Impact

Academics spend an awful lot of time thinking about impact, what it means and how to make sure our work has sufficient of it, but it is a rare experience (for me at least) to be directly presented with the impact your work has had on someone else.  I was in this happy position a few weeks ago at the brilliant Digital Humanities@Oxford Summer School where Dr Eric Meyer and I were giving a presentation on our Toolkit for the Impact of Digitised Scholarly Resources (TIDSR). Having stayed to indulge in tea and cakes after our presentation, I was lucky enough to be present for two fantastic presentations by Judith Siefring (EEBO-TCP, Bodleian) and Jonathan Blaney (British History Online) discussing how they have used the TIDSR toolkit in creative and imaginative ways to learn more about the usage and impact of their own digital content.  You can access their slides, and ours, here.

The TIDSR toolkit came about thanks to a project led by Meyer and funded by JISC back in 2008-9 and was designed to present a user-friendly guide to a suite of tools which would enable digitisation projects to gain a sense of the impact they were having.  The JISC Usage and Impact study was the first project I worked on at the OII, and my first foray into the world of Digital Humanities.  I was the traditional Humanities scholar we kept in mind when drafting the first iteration of the TIDSR toolkit.  I had had a rapid induction into many of these tools and methods, and we tried to make sure that other newcomers would be able to navigate them using the toolkit.

It was enormously gratifying when JISC announced a subsequent round of funding in 2010-11 to encourage new projects to use the toolkit to discover more about their usage and impact, and to develop strategies to embed these digitised resources in research and teaching across a range of disciplines.  All of these case studies have been added to the TIDSR toolkit, as has a report summarising the collective findings by Meyer.  

The toolkit continues to be used in a variety of ways and contexts: I recently used it as the backbone of my AHRC Early Career Fellowship project to study the impact of crowdsourcing on the digital art collection Your Paintings.  Anyone can upload case studies they have developed based on the toolkit, and you can also add tools, articles and comments to the main content.  If you’ve used it and you have something to say about it, please consider adding your impressions, your data, or a tool you’ve discovered that others could benefit from.  Apart from anything else, you’ll make my day.

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