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Digital Tools and Methods for Historical Research

Comments and queries in relation to this paper can be made at Digital Arts & Humanities where users can join a group called ‘Digital Historian’.

The objective of this working paper is to provide some examples of the type and range of digital tools (and associated methods) that might profitably be used by researchers working in the discipline of History. In keeping with the remit of the Methods Network - one of the objectives of which is to promote the dissemination of knowledge about ICT related tools and methods across subject boundaries - some reference will also be made to techniques and tools normally associated with other disciplines which clearly have applications to historical research.

On a theoretical map of arts and humanities subject areas where disciplines could be positioned to try and demonstrate overlap and methodological common ground, there would be a strong case for placing the discipline of History squarely in the centre of the map, providing as it does a chronological backbone for all areas of research, as diverse as musicology, practice-based art, theology, literary studies and so forth. In terms of immediate adjacency, the borders of what might be considered ‘historical research’ would blur imperceptibly with a number of neighbouring subject areas: archaeology, classical studies, sociology and art history for instance; all of which have tools and techniques associated with them which are (or potentially could be) of use to historians. Appropriated techniques from computing and information science such as data mining and e-Science related methods are also increasingly coming to the attention of those seeking to explore new methods of engaging with research questions - as are techniques associated with geographical mapping and information systems - so it is clear that the scope for employing a variety of technical methods is very broad.

Read the full Working Paper : (pdf)

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AHDS Methods Taxonomy Terms

This item has been catalogued using a discipline and methods taxonomy. Learn more here.


  • History
  • Ancient History


  • Data Analysis - Content analysis
  • Data Capture - 2d Scanning/photography
  • Data Capture - Text recognition
  • Data Capture - Usage of existing digital data
  • Data Capture - GPS/total station surveys
  • Data Analysis - Data mining
  • Data Analysis - Searching/querying
  • Data Analysis - Visual analysis/visualisation
  • Data publishing and dissemination - Searching/querying
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Coding/standardisation
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Markup/text encoding - descriptive - nominal
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Record linkages
  • Data Structuring and enhancement - Data modelling - relational