AERI Literature Analysis Project

DeNeve Plaza Room A&B

Thursday July 12, 2012

9:00 am-10:30 am

Scoping the Published Archival Research Corpus (SPARC): An International Exploration
Paul Conway, University of Michigan
DRAFT 17 October 2011

The scope of the narrow pilot investigation by Paul Conway (reported in preliminary form at AERI 2011 and at the annual meeting of the Society of American Archivists) was to identify and describe collectively research articles published in three peer reviewed archival journals (American Archivist, Archivaria, Archival Science) from 2001 to 2011. The major focus of the pilot study was to explore the challenges of defining and identifying research articles, based on a preliminary definition of what a research article is.  Additionally, the preliminary study surfaced the complexity of coding the articles in terms of the source journal, first author characteristics, the topic/scope of the article, and its research method.  Finally, the results of the analysis of the data gathered in the preliminary study focused initially on the relationship of academia to practice, the continuing dominance of historical methods and survey research, and gaps in scope and topic. The preliminary study pointed to additional information that could/should be extracted from research articles to support deeper or more complex analysis. An independent, unreported analysis by Patti Condon (Simmons) used a complementary research method and had comparable, but not precisely overlapping findings.

The goal of “Scoping the Published Archival Research Corpus” (SPARC) is to extend the research to an international level, retain the focus on research articles published in peer-reviewed journals (primarily archival, but also other disciplines if identifiable), while also incorporating selected published research in other formats, including peer-reviewed conferences and book/book chapters.  An expanded study will involve distributed effort to collect data and a more sophisticated analysis and presentation of the data in keeping with some of the best current methods of bibliometric research.  An expanded study requires a number of important enabling steps, including:
• Identifying a list of in-scope peer-reviewed journals that can be adjusted iteratively
• Broadening the time frame to 1994-2011, inclusive
• Identifying the scope of the archival research literature beyond that published in journals, including conference proceedings, books, and research reports.
• Creating a data model and associated codebook with training information
• Building a data gathering template based on the data model
• Specifying and perhaps testing data analysis routines from the data in the template

The expanded international efforts also require coordination of data gathering, trouble shooting, and problem resolution. Additionally, the effort will require:
• Assembling and cleaning a master data set
• Running preliminary analysis of the data
• Complete full analysis and preparation of reports and presentations for AERI 2012.

Collectively, all of the above is premised on a research design that has yet to be fully specified. Beyond basic descriptive statistics on the distribution of the data across an international dataset, the research may wish to develop an explanatory or a predictive model for understanding the dissemination of research-based knowledge through the international archival multiverse. The research is not conceived as either a citation or network analysis, although we expect that such analyses could make use of the SPARC dataset for such supplemental purposes. Additionally, the research as presently conceived does not actually engage the substance or content of the articles, and so is not capable of making qualitative
judgments about the research methods or findings.

A faculty advisory board will support the larger international research project. The members are:  Richard Cox (Pittsburg USA), Jonathan Furner (UCLA USA), Eric Ketelaar (Netherlands), Geoffrey Yeo (UCL UK), and An Xiaomi (RUC China). The role of the advisory board for an expanded project is to advise on the overall research design (including research questions, journal selection) and to help validate the data model (and analysis) for the international project.  The board will also review findings and comment on the significance of the project.

A team of four doctoral students, guided by Paul Conway (University of Michigan), will gather data from a corpus of archival research literature using a template that the team develops collaboratively. The team will analyze and report the findings. The team consists of the following students:  Patti Condon (Simmons College USA), Jonathan Dorey (McGill University Canada), Patricia Garcia (UCLA USA), Weiwei Song (Renmin University of China).

In presenting the results of this work at AERI 2012 at UCLA, the concept is to offer a plenary session that is introduced by Conway, with results presented by one or more doctoral students who did the data gathering and preliminary analysis, followed by commentary by a member of the advisory board.

Outline of Research Design Issues (many details forthcoming)
1. Scope of the project
a. Published archival research in any language
b. Peer-review prior to formal publication
c. 1994-2011, reviewed from present back
2. Research definition
a. Systematic inquiry, explicit methodology, evidence organized and presented in context of a question or hypothesis, conclusion reached and implications
b. Inquiry explicitly framed as archivistics (Ketelaar) or archival science
3. Procedure
a. Hierarchy of investigation that starts with peer reviewed journals and proceeds iteratively as follows: peer reviewed archival journals, peer reviewed journals in other disciplines, archived conference proceedings (full papers), books and book chapters, research papers and reports with significant editorial oversight.
b. Code information found in the source, including evidence on: source, authors,
topic, research method
c. Vet questionable inclusions/exclusions within the research team


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