Digital Scholarship Workshops

This year, as the campus and BC Libraries take a sharper look at social justice issues, our workshops will use race and diversity (e.g. US Census) data to explore both the affordances and constraints of tools and strategies for transforming data into narratives and images. We hope you can join us!

Analyzing Census Data in Excel
February 5, 2020, 2–3:30 pm.
(This workshop will also be held on March 25, 2020).
O’Neill Library, Digital Studio, Room 205

Excel is a popular tool among all data users. It can be utilized to showcase the value of open data of all kinds, and it is particularly useful for transforming, analyzing, and visualizing census data. In this workshop, you will learn how to use Excel to access, manipulate, and visualize census data. Specifically, we will explore using the advanced search option within the American FactFinder from the census to locate census topics at various geographic levels. Through hands-on exercises, you will perform basic and advanced search within the census, conduct various data analyses and visualization tasks in Excel.

Expected Outcomes:

  1. Access data from the Census Bureau using the American FactFinder
  2. Format tables for data analysis
  3. Perform basic and advanced analyses of census data using Excel
  4. Create data visualizations such as sparklines, hierarchical charts, and histograms

Tools/Software: Microsoft Excel, Laptop, Window Excel (preferred).

Data Management in Social Science
February 12, 2020 2–3:30 pm.
(This workshop will also be held on April 8, 2020.)
O’Neill Library, Digital Studio, Room 205

Have you had a situation where you were interested in accessing a particular dataset, but the public access was unfortunately not allowed? Or have you had problems of opening a dataset because it was stored in an obsolete file format? Data management covers the knowledge of best practices in managing your data, including metadata, long-term preservation, data re-usage, and data ethical issues. In this workshop, we will walk through several major components in data management in the context of social science. Also, you will have the opportunity of creating your own data management plan in this workshop by utilizing the DMP Tool.

Expected Outcomes:

  1. Understand the best practices in managing social science data, e.g., naming, storing, etc
  2. Understand the importance of long-term preservation and accessibility to other researchers
  3. Understand metadata standards in social science and codebooks
  4. Create a preliminary data management plan by using the DMP tool

Tools/Software: Laptop

Digital Textual Analysis and Voyant Tools
February 13, 2020, 12:30-2:00 pm.
Stokes Hall, S476

Digital texts create opportunities for large-scale analysis and exploration that are usually impracticable for their analogue counterparts. Word distribution graphs, semantic relationship visualizations, and vocabulary densities can be made in seconds with the correct digital textual analysis tools, and readers can use those to track the currency of phrases and ideas over time, connect themes with unexpected words, and speculate on authorship. 

However, for digital tools to produce useful information about texts, people have to clean and prepare texts carefully beforehand. This crucial but unglamorous aspect of digital textual analysis is often overlooked, and in this workshop participants will first learn how best to prepare texts for specific textual analysis goals. Secondly, they will learn how to use Voyant Tools (, a free, web-based suite of textual analysis modules, to ask imaginative questions about texts and complement their close-reading skills.

Please bring a laptop to get the most out of this session. This event is free and no experience with digital humanities is necessary. Hope to see you there.

Preparing and Visualizing Census Data with Tableau
February 19, 2020, 2-3:30 pm.
(This workshop will also be held on March 18, 2020.)
O’Neill Library, Digital Studio, Room 205

In this workshop, participants will get an introductory, hands-on learning experience of Tableau. We will look at and discuss different visualization types, use cases, and most common tasks you might perform when using census data in Tableau. Through hands-on exercises, you will explore a data visualization project to see how it was made, practice in real-time using Census data and Tableau, and think about how data visualization can help with your research.

Expected Outcomes:

  1. How to connect and join data/ geographic data, format data in Tableau
  2. How to create and present visuals and assemble them into a dashboard
  3. How to publish the dashboard to the Tableau Public server

Tools/Software: Laptop, Tableau

Transcribe-A-Thon for Black History Month
February 21, 2020, 1-3:00 pm.
O’Neill Library, Digital Studio, Room 205

Join us as we celebrate Black History Month by turning handwritten documents into digital text. We’ll be working with a variety of material, so you can follow your own interests: transcripts of Black political conferences, Civil War service records of African-American soldiers, letters between abolitionists. All skill levels welcome, no particular skill with deciphering handwriting necessary. Bring your own laptop or use one of our computers.

Text Scraping in Twitter
February 26, 2020, 2-3:30 pm.
(This workshop will also be held on April 15, 2020.)
O’Neill Library, Digital Studio, Room 205

Twitter data are widely used for research purposes and are collected through a variety of methods and tools. In this workshop, we’ll show you handy methods for acquiring Twitter data about the 2020 Census utilizing Twitter public API, Google Sheets and Excel. In this workshop, you will perform a series of hands-on exercises, including acquiring Twitter data with your search terms, downloading the acquired tweets, and learning about basic data processing skills with Twitter data. 

Expected Outcomes:

  1. Acquire Twitter data through Twitter Public API
  2. Utilize Twitter ID information in data processing and acquisition
  3. Basic network visualizations based on the geographical information contained in tweets

Tools/Software: Laptop, Google account, Excel, Twitter API key.

Introduction to Data/Statistical Sources in Social Science
March 11, 2020, 2-3:30 pm.
O’Neill Library, Digital Studio, Room 205

Have you been struggling with locating certain demographic information, e.g., U.S. population by different geographic groups, crime rates across different metropolitan areas in the U.S., or local employment levels by industry and by county? In this workshop, we will go through a number of major social science statistical databases that our library provides access to, e.g., Data-Planet, ICPSR, Social Explorer, major census surveys (IPUMS), etc. By navigating through these databases and repositories, including searching, understanding codebooks, downloading and importing the datasets, you will develop extensive knowledge in these interdisciplinary social science databases for your future research projects.

Expected Outcomes:

  1. Knowledge of the differences between data and statistics
  2. Major statistical data sources for social science disciplines
  3. Understand what codebook is and how to use it
  4. Navigate and download data from databases

Digital Archives, Metadata, and Omeka
March 18, 2020, 12:30-2 pm.
Stokes Hall, S476

When you look at a digitized primary resource on the web, how do you know what you’re looking at? The digitization of special collections holdings has been transformative in how researchers access unique primary resources, but this easy access has come with a cost. Metadata is the descriptive information attached to digital records that is supposed to answer basic questions. But who creates the metadata, and according to what standards?

In this workshop, participants will learn how to interpret and create metadata according to the guidelines of the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative, how to write metadata records in the popular content management platform Omeka, and how to build their own publicly accessible, well-described thematic digital exhibits.

Please bring a laptop to get the most out of this session. This event is free and no experience with digital humanities is necessary. Hope to see you there.

2020 Census
April 1, 2020, 2-3:30 pm.
O’Neill Library, Digital Studio, Room 205

The 2020 Census is on the way! How much do you know about decennial census? Have you used (or thought of using) census data in your research projects? In this workshop, participants will be introduced to the basics of the 2020 Census, past census surveys, and differences between decimal census (2020 Census) and other census surveys, such as the American Community Survey (ACS) and the Current Population Survey (CPS). Next, by taking a mini mock census survey during the workshop, we will discuss the differences between census statistics and census microdata. Lastly, we will go through several databases with access to census statistics, microdata, and census visualization, historical census that you will find useful for your own work. 

Expected Outcomes:

  1. Understand what decennial census (2020 Census) is and its basic features
  2. Understand the difference between census and census surveys such as ACS and CPS
  3. Learn about main census statistics, microdata, and visualization sources
  4. Learn about historical census surveys

Tools/software: Laptop

Crowd Cafe

We are pleased to announce that Crowd Cafe, an initiative to encourage participation in crowdsourcing projects, is restarting for the 2019–2020 academic year. Along with colleagues from Boston University, we’ll host monthly meetups to work on crowdsourcing projects together.

We meet the third Friday of the month from 1–3 pm in the Faculty Preview Room of the Digital Studio, room 205, O’Neill Library.