Reflecting on my Residency at the Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship

Reflecting on my Residency at the Sherman Centre for Digital Scholarship

When I applied to the residency, I intended to learn about how to create an archaeological database. My vision was to bring published data (in Turkish) together, translate them into English, and compile it as an open-access dataset shared through a website. In this way, scholars who do not know Turkish could reach out for these archaeological data and use them. You can read about the details of this project here.

Andrea Zeffiro, the Academic Director of the Sherman Centre, supported me and my project throughout this residency. Her encouraging attitude, the way she moderated our meetings, and the flexibility and support she provided the cohort with to collaborate further made this residency a community I would want to be a part of for a longer time.

That is why I decided to extend my time at the center for another year in a self-directed residency, and started to work on a new project. You can read about that project here, but my purpose with this blog post is not to introduce my projects. Instead, I want to share my experience in the residency and introduce some of the digital tools I got to play with to any students who are curious about this program.

After our first cohort meeting, Andrea immediately connected me with the specialists of the Sherman center team to receive consultation for my project. I had a virtual meeting with Isaac Pratt and Jeffrey Demaine, and during this meeting, they introduced me to specific programs I could use to create the kind of database I wanted to build. Airtable was one of them. This digital relational database tool serves many purposes, such as creating, linking tables, and looking at your data through different viewing options. I also use this tool to organize my day-to-day work for my Ph.D. project, and I highly suggest every graduate student learn about this fantastic tool.

Another digital tool that I find great and continue to use to organize my writing and project ideas is the Padlet software. Digital Scholarship Coordinator of the Sherman Centre Veronica Litt introduced the cohort to this tool by creating an idea board to organize our group event. I love this tool because it offers different templates, inspiring visuals, collaborative use, and easy sharing. I was introduced to other digital tools, methods, and workshops throughout this residency. Mainly, the research data management webinars prepared by Jason Brodeur and Isaac Pratt significantly impacted me as a graduate student.

I felt the privilege of being a resident, not just for the informative meetings and services I was provided with but also for the connections. One day I received an email from Jeffrey Demaine saying, ‘Duygu, I was in this workshop about Omeka S, and I immediately thought about your project!’ Then after a couple of emails back and forth, he introduced me to Amanda Montague, with whom I had a meeting to discuss the possibility of using Omeka for my project. Amanda listened to my aims and vision for turning the relational database I am building into an exhibition through Omeka and introduced me to Thinglink and Neatline digital visualization tools that I could use for my project.

This connection was more than a consultation service… It showed me the importance of being a part of this community that valued my research and thought about it without needing my service request.

Finally, listening to the projects of my cohort made me appreciate the different methods used in science communication and more aware of the ethics of information sharing.

Thanks to the Sherman Centre Digital Scholarship team and the cohort, my aim of learning the kinds of digital tools I need to create a database at the beginning of the residency have transformed into learning the best practices of knowledge communication. I became aware of the importance of not just producing knowledge but communicating that knowledge in an inclusive, audience-focused, and transparent way. These lessons will stay with me throughout my graduate program and even after it!

Thank you all!

P.S. Stay tuned for my upcoming blog post on archaeological science communication and digital scholarship.

Cheers,

Duygu Ertemin

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