Digital Futures

In order to access primary qualitative data now and in the future, we need data to be accurately, richly and contextually described. The current challenge is thus to make data open, accessible, citable and linkable, via the medium of the internet.

The Digital Futures project encompasses two strands of work which cover requirements gathering, system design, implementation and testing, preparation of enhanced qualitative data to populate the system, and user outputs making use of the linked scholars.

The first strand will develop a user-friendly system for publishing and exploring qualitative data online, to be used by the UK Data Service, and potentially offering opportunities for publishing qualitative data for other data services internationally.

The second strand will enhance existing data, currently in non-digital format, working within a user-driven framework guided by linked scholars and teachers who will be actively working on some of the data.  Enhanced data, such as digitised open-ended questions from surveys and transcribed interviews will be published into the online delivery system developed in the first strand of work. 

See our blog

Our contribution

Principal Investigator: Louise Corti, Functional Director of Collections Development and Producer Support for the UK Data Service and an Associate Director of the UK Data Archive

Funder: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)

Project dates: October 2012 - March 2014


December 2013

Forthcoming Webinar on 'Introducing the Digital Futures system: browsing and citing qualitative data online'. The talk will introduce the demonstrator system and discuss the metadata being used. Registration details available soon.

October 2013

Louise Corti gave a presentation on the Digital Futures system to the University of Lausanne.

Summer 2013

Following a period of licence negotiation, lots of data are now coming in destined for digitisation using phography and OCR.

A prototype data browsing system has now been built, that will be aired in January 2014. The team will be giving a webinar on its development in Autumn 2013. Watch this space, and our blog!

June 2013

Louise Corti, Agustina Martinez and Daren Bell gave a webinar presentation on QuDEx schema being used in the Digital Futures project.

28 May 2013

Louise Corti gave a presentation on Digital Futures to the IASSIST 2013 conference in Cologne, Germany.

1 May 2013

We began testing the qualitative metadata standard QuDEx for our test data collections. These consist of four collections, comprising in-depth interview transcripts, open-ended survey questions and annotated questionnaires in PDF format.

We have also developed a metadata entry tool for describing objects in each collection and have agreed on our protocol for creating text. We are using the Text Encoding Initiative (TEI) to mark up text documents in XML.

16 April 2013

A consultation meeting was held in London alongside a widespread email campaign to scope potential data sources for the project. We liaised with research data users and archivists to identify suitable sources of paper-based archives that would be worthy of digitising.

8 April 2013

Our new project officer Maureen Haaker joined us. She will be coordinating data sources and overseeing digitisation and metadata entry.

21 November 2012

Louise Corti gave a presentation on Digital Futures at the EU DASISH workshop on qualitative data in Ireland.



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