19 July – Workshop – Animating Archives: Curating Small Research Data

Workshop, University of Edinburgh, 19 July 2017.

A crucial challenge in the rapidly changing landscape of ‘data management’ is exciting the involvement of a wider range of researchers, and research data, than is currently the case. In particular, the focus on ‘big data’ and the computational possibilities of large datasets, has contributed to a sense for many qualitative researchers, or those working with smaller scale data sets, that these discussions are irrelevant for their own practice. Key concerns are that that the labour required to prepare data for deposit in a repository for possible future use by other researchers is ethically challenging, laborious, costly, unrewarding and of no real and meaningful benefit to the current researcher. This is exacerbated in a context where there is much enthusiasm for ‘data management’, but a lack of resource for supporting such work and a lack of recognition for those who take the time to engage in data archiving.

This workshop aims to articulate a necessary cultural shift towards practices of ‘animating archives’ (including realising the potential of emerging digital technologies), and away from narrowly construed notions of ‘data management’ and ‘data repositories’, which have arguably served to obfuscate the creative possibilities of working with data. Questions raised in the various debates around data management, data archiving, data curation, data repositories, cannot be solved by one discipline alone, and need the concerted involvement of researchers across the field of the social sciences and humanities as well as those involved in libraries, archives and various repositories. As the possibility and desirability of expanded archival practice becomes an issue of international relevance we see value in consolidating and extending learning in a UK context where the RCUK requirement to archive (since 1996) has stimulated activity. In particular we see the need to shift from a focus on the necessary challenges of doing this work to sharing examples of researchers collaborating to explore the creative possibilities of ‘animating archives’.


The workshop is free and refeshments and lunch are provided.

Organisers: Niamh Moore (Edinburgh) and Rachel Thomson (Sussex)


More information and signup instructions at


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