This poster will report on progress made in the Reader
Study related to the use of the Henry III Fine Rolls
project resources. A poster on the research framework
and phase one of the study was presented at the Digital
Humanities conference in 2008. Since then (June 2008),
the authors have continued work on later phases of the
study, completing the document analyses, defining a
research profile out of the sample data, and evaluating,
developing and revising the methodological framework.
This poster will report and comment on these findings.
The Henry III Fine Rolls (http://www.frh2.org.uk) is a
collaborative project funded by the Arts and Humanities
Research Council (UK) between the National Archives
in the UK, the History and Centre for Computing in
the Humanities departments at King’s College London,
the Department of History and American Studies at
Canterbury Christ Church University. At the core of the
project is the study of the medieval primary sources
known as the Fine Rolls. Dating back to the 1170s, these
documents written in Latin on membranes of parchment
were issued by the royal Chancery to record agreements
made with the king to pay a certain sum of money for
specific benefits. Those that witness writs for the whole
reign of Henry III (1216-1272) were never published
properly and in their entirety before the Henry III Fine
Rolls project took the initiative to do so.
The outcome of the project, currently in its second phase,
is both a resource website and a set of printed volumes1
containing the calendared edition (an English summary
of the Latin records) of the Fine Rolls. Reader Study
This dual editorial effort has raised questions about
presentational formats pertinent to the two media and
presented challenges for the historians as well as the
digital humanities researchers involved in the project
and the publisher. The process of negotiating and
envisaging different ‘material’ solutions for the two
types of published resources presented the authors
with an opportunity to examine this parallel production
process and to inquire about the social processes that
influence the ways in which scholarship is embedded in
published outputs, both in print and digital form.
Therefore, the reader study was conceived to:
• Reflect on the material actualisations of the Fine
Rolls hybrid edition;2
• Evaluate the use of this hybrid edition to tackle old
and new research questions;
• Establish the effectiveness of particular features of
each medium in creating bridges between the print
and web resources;
• Articulate general heuristics that can be used in the
design of other hybrid digital humanities projects.
As summarised below, the poster presented in 2008
developed a framework for this exploratory study using
established data collection methods from information
seeking research, in particular those developed for the
report Scholarly Work in the Humanities and the Evolving
Information Environment (Brockman, Neumann, Palmer
& Tidline, 2001).
This methodological approach is qualitative, striving not
to achieve statistical significance but rather to develop a
nuanced picture of the work performed by scholars using
this and like material. The decision to use qualitative
methods has forced the authors to limit the number of
participants to a small group, collecting information by
email and face-to-face interviews and through content
analysis of research material. The participant sample
throughout draws from members of the Fine Rolls
research team who have written materials using the
edition, but also on a small sample of researchers from
the wider scholarly community who perform text-based
archival research with documentary primary sources that
date back to the late Middle Ages.
Analysis of the materiality of the fine rolls edition
in 2008 was coupled with an initial examination of
distributed questionnaires and document analysis of
material written by study participants on the use of this
or similar editions. Emerging trends from this exercise
suggested that scholars do posses a high familiarity
with primary sources through continuous direct access.
In addition, the authors found that participants tend to
cite a core set of sources over and over again. These
key sources mainly consist of facsimiles, editions or
reference works that give access to a substantial corpus
of primary sources in various forms.
This poster will report more specifically on how
scholars from this community perceive and overcome
obstacles related to access or use of materials in
performing research, and share general attitudes about
what constitutes a successful research process (Dervin,
1992; 1998). In addition, it will identify and report on
information patterns for the community, defining the
types and formats of sources that are used, including
insights into use of access resources (Brockman et
al., 2001; Palmer, 2005). Findings from this phase
will confirm whether or not the research process of
participants conforms to Palmer’s mode of access for
humanities scholars (2005).
In addition, this poster will isolate the bridging tactics
(Wilson, 1999) employed by scholars when moving
between digital and print materials, in order to more
fully develop a lexicon of connective structures for
hybrid editions. Finally, a preliminary testing plan for
evaluating the design of the Fine Rolls will be presented.
Brockman, W., L. Neumann, C. L. Palmer, T. J. Tidline.
(2001) Scholarly Work in the Humanities and the Evolving
Information Environment. Digital Library Federation
Council on Library and Information Resources, December
2001, Council on Library and Information Resources.
Ciula, A. and Lopez T. “Reflecting on a Dual Publication:
Henry III Fine Rolls Print and Web”. Literary and
Linguistic Computing (forthcoming).
Dervin, B. (1992) “From the mind’s eye of the user: the
sense-making qualitative-quantitative methodology”.
In Glazier, J.D. and Powell, R.R. (eds.) Qualitative Research
in Information Management.Libraries Unlimited,
1992. pp. 61-84. Pre-print accessed 14 November, 2008
Dervin, B. (1998) “Sense-making theory and practice:
an overview of user interests in knowledge seeking and
use”. Journal of Knowledge Management. Vol. 2 No. 2,
December 1998. pp. 36-46. Dryburgh, P., Hartland, B. eds., Ciula, A., Vieira J. M.
tech. eds. (2007) Calendar of the Fine Rolls of the Reign
of Henry III preserved in The National Archives. Volume
1: 1216–1224. Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer.
Dryburgh, P., Hartland, B. eds., Ciula, A., Vieira J. M.
tech. eds. (2008) Calendar of the Fine Rolls of the Reign
of Henry III preserved in The National Archives. Volume
II: 1224–1234. Woodbridge: Boydell & Brewer.
Finkelstein, D. and McCleery, A. (2002) The book history
reader. London: Routledge.
Palmer, C. L. (2004) “Thematic Research Collections”.
In Schreibman, S., R. Siemens and J. Unsworth (eds.) A
Companion to Digital Humanities. Blackwell Companions
to Literature and Culture. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004.
Palmer, C. L. (2005) “Scholarly work and the shaping of
digital access”. Journal of the American Society for Information
Science and Technology Vol. 56 No 11, 2005.
Wilson, T. (1999) Models in information behaviour research.
Journal of Documentation Vol. 55 No 3, 1999.
1The first two volumes (Dryburgh et al., 2007; 2008)
have already been printed in collaboration with the publisher
Boydell & Brewer, and a third is under production:
another five volumes will be published to complete the
2That is, extant both in a physical and virtual environment.
For a fuller treatment of this, see Ciula and Lopez
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Hosted at University of Maryland, College Park
College Park, Maryland, United States
June 20, 2009 - June 25, 2009
176 works by 303 authors indexed
Conference website: http://web.archive.org/web/20130307234434/http://mith.umd.edu/dh09/
Series: ADHO (4)