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Understanding the information and communication technology needs of the e‐humanist

Elaine G. Toms (Centre for Management Informatics, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada)
Heather L. O'Brien (Centre for Management Informatics, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada)

Journal of Documentation

ISSN: 0022-0418

Article publication date: 18 January 2008

3203

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to understand the needs of humanists with respect to information and communication technology (ICT) in order to prescribe the design of an e‐humanist's workbench.

Design/methodology/approach

A web‐based survey comprising over 60 questions gathered the following data from 169 humanists: profile of the humanist, use of ICT in teaching, e‐texts, text analysis tools, access to and use of primary and secondary sources, and use of collaboration and communication tools.

Findings

Humanists conduct varied forms of research and use multiple techniques. They rely on the availability of inexpensive, quality‐controlled e‐texts for their research. The existence of primary sources in digital form influences the type of research conducted. They are unaware of existing tools for conducting text analyses, but expressed a need for better tools. Search engines have replaced the library catalogue as the key access tool for sources. Research continues to be solitary with little collaboration among scholars.

Research limitations/implications

The results are based on a self‐selected sample of humanists who responded to a web‐based survey. Future research needs to examine the work of the scholar at a more detailed level, preferably through observation and/or interviewing.

Practical implications

The findings support a five‐part framework that could serve as the basis for the design of an e‐humanist's workbench.

Originality/value

The paper examines the needs of the humanist, founded on an integration of information science research and humanities computing for a more comprehensive understanding of the humanist at work.

Keywords

Citation

Toms, E.G. and O'Brien, H.L. (2008), "Understanding the information and communication technology needs of the e‐humanist", Journal of Documentation, Vol. 64 No. 1, pp. 102-130. https://doi.org/10.1108/00220410810844178

Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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