Impacts of digital collections

Last year Jisc in partnership with ProQuest commissioned the Oxford Internet Institute to look into the impact of digital collections on academic researchers working within the humanities. This research was focussed on two key historical primary resources, Early English Books Online (EEBO) and Houses of Commons Parliamentary Papers (HCPP).

(see a recording of the presentation at UKSG 39th annual conference, 2016, here)

The study highlights the impact that these resources have had on researchers who have been using them for the last decade since their launch. These resources were purchased and/or digitised by Jisc on behalf of the community and are available by subscription via the Jisc Historical Texts platform and through a ProQuest platform.

The use of key humanities resources such as EEBO and the HCPP has been growing steadily and they are  being used by a wide range of disciplines not just English and history but also music, theatre, political science, anthropology and women’s studies. The study shows how digital collections have become fundamental to modern scholarship.

The digitistion of materials such as EEBO unlocks astonishing special collections and allows researchers the opportunity to view, explore and examine texts at anytime from anywhere.Though these resources are heavily used by research intensive universities our research shows that they are also valued at less research intensive universities which also benefit from both collections. There availability has also enabled universities, with limited special collections, to offer courses on literature and book history.

For The Open University the HCCP is used for its history and law courses and has been ideal for its dispersed group of students, enabling them to access this historical archive and also to learn important digital literacy and research skills.

To find out more please access the full report from Oxford Internet Institute or Jisc’s Ten highlights from the Impacts of Digital Collections.

By Peter Findlay

Subject Matter Expert, Digital Scholarship, Content and Discovery, Jisc

Working with Jisc's Higher Education members to improve access to to their special collections in the age of data-centric arts, humanities and social science research.

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