The latest on tools & methods from the Digital HASS Champions

Published by Katy McHugh on

We recently asked a few of the Digital HASS Champions for their thoughts on all things research, digital tools, projects, and pedagogy. The following summarises their latest research and the digital tools they’re currently using. Check it out!

Dr Simon Musgrave

Simon is a Lecturer in the School of Languages, Literatures, Cultures and Linguistics at Monash University. He is also coordinator of the Monash Undergraduate major in Digital Humanities.

Simon has two main DH research projects at the moment:

  1. Transforming Jeffrey Heath’s description of the Nunggubuyu language from Arnhem Land into an online resource (sample available at [with Nick Thieberger]
  2. Using corpus techniques to look at whether the age of liberation is finished [with Chris Watkin]

He’s also busy preparing to teach two DH-based units this semester:

  1. a project-based unit where we will work in association with Museum Victoria and Ryerson University (Canada), who both have important collections from Kodak which students will try to make talk to each other in interesting ways (we hope!)
  2. a unit looking at non-text-based analytic methods in the humanities, that is, numbers, visualisation and mapping. 

Simon writes: “Given these projects, it is probably not surprising that my go-to tool at the moment is R (and that includes using the wordVectors package for word embeddings). But I am also using Python pipelines to get Heath’s text to html, and Antconc for basic corpus tools.”

Dr Terhi Nurmikko-Fuller

Terhi’s research is best described as interdisciplinary, innovative, pioneering investigations into the ways digital technologies can be used in the Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. 

Her publications cover three distinct areas:

 i) the use of Linked Data and Semantic Web technologies; 

ii) the role of 3D digital models in the GLAM (galleries, libraries, archives, and museums) sector, and

 iii) Web Science, which examines the Web from both social and technical perspectives. She is a member of the Australian Government Linked Data Working Group; a Fellow of the Software Sustainability Institute, UK (2016); an inaugural eResearch South Australia (eRSA) HASS DEVL (Humanities Arts and Social Sciences Data Enhanced Virtual Laboratory) Champion; and an iSchool Research Fellow at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA (2019 – 2021).

The digital tools Terhi’s currently using are:

Dr Rahul K. Gairola

Rahul has just completed two co-edited journal special issues: “Digital Spatiality” in Asiascape: Digital Asia (Leiden & Boston: Brill Publishers) with Dr Martin Roth (Leipzig University, Germany); and “Digital Humanities & South Asian Studies” in South Asian Review (Routledge/ Taylor & Francis, UK) with Dr Roopika Risam (Salem State University, USA). 

He continues to work on a number of articles on postcolonial and/ or queer DH, and is currently working on a book project titled Digital Homes: Technology and Belonging in the South Asian Diaspora (Routledge/ Taylor & Francis, UK, 2020). In July-August 2019, he will attend the European Summer University in Digital Humanities at the University of Leipzig, Germany, as a DAAD (German Academic Exchange) Fellow, and has recently been appointed to the Executive Committees of Global Outlook Digital Humanities (GO::DH) and the Ottawa2020 conference of the Association of Digital Humanities Organisations (ADHO). 

He has just finished designing and coordinating Murdoch University’s first ever DH class in the College of Arts, Business, Law, & Social Sciences (ABLSS), and will be presenting invited talks on queer DH in South Asia at the University of Washington, Seattle, and the University of California, Berkeley, in January 2020. 

His co-authored book Migration, Gender, & Home Economics in Rural North India will be published by Routledge/ Taylor & Francis in late 2019.

Digital tools:

In addition to using Voyant, Rahul is currently using Tinker along with social media garnished with digital repositories like the 1947 Partition Archive, the South Asian American Digital Archive (SAADA), and The Gairola Digital Art & Architecture Collection, in an Anaconda (Python) wrap!

Dr Alana Piper

Alana is a UTS Chancellors Postdoctoral Research Fellow currently working on Criminal Characters, a project to crowdsource the transcription of Australian prison records from the 1850s to 1940s. She is also a collaborator on the Prosecution Project, a relational database of historical criminal prosecutions in Australia, and the Time-Layered Cultural Map, a newly-launched initiative to develop a tool to assist researchers in geographically visualising temporal information.

Digital tools that she uses in research, teaching or both at the moment include:

  • Zooniverse
  • Gephi
  • Knightlab tools 
  • Voyant tools
  • HuNI
  • OpenRefine

Katie Mills

Katie is the Library Manager (Arts, Business, Law & Education) at the UWA University Library. She is currently playing with Google Cloud AutoML and it’s her first foray into machine learning and image recognition. She’s been working with a colleague from the University’s Office of Research Enterprise to develop some step-by-step instructions and we plan to test them out on a group of Library colleagues later this month!

 Digital research tools Katie is using/experimenting with at the moment include:

  • NVivo
  • Google Cloud AutoML
  • Omeka
  • OpenRefine

Dr Imogen Wegman

Dr Imogen Wegman is a historian at the University of Tasmania. She is a researcher on the ARC LIEF project ‘Restoring Dignity: Networked Knowledge for Repatriation’, and teaches in the online Diploma of Family History. 

She also spends a couple of shifts each week working in the public library, helping people with their own research. Everyday Imogen sees how people of all backgrounds approach online learning and digital tools, and she’s interested in exploring the practical ways to prepare the next generation of historians for research in the digital archive.

Currently, she is primarily focussing on exploring tools for managing her next project’s data, but with accessibility and teachability in mind. The tools she uses and is exploring include:

  • GIS software – although reasonably proficient with ArcGIS, I am currently learning the open source QGIS. I have used Esri’s StoryMaps for elements of my research, and recently ran a workshop on historical cartography that used the georeferencing project within the David Rumsey Collection.
  • Zotero – I have been using it as a citation manager for years, but am now using it as a PDF manager and learning how to get the most out of that aspect with different plugins.
  • Tropy – this is a new discovery, but it looks useful for managing the huge quantities of photographs involved in archival research.