Digging Into Data challenge grant winners include SILS Professor, Dr. Richard Marciano

Release date: 
January 9, 2012

Richard MarcianoUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Professor Richard Marciano is on one of the 14 research teams that won the second Digging Into Data challenge – a prestigious international competition promoting innovative humanities and social sciences research using large-scale analysis.

Eight international research organizations from four countries awarded about $4.8 million to the 14 winning teams that, together, represent a mixed group of scholars, scientists and librarians from the United States, Canada, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Marciano, a professor in the School of Information and Library Science and an affiliated professor of American studies, is a principal investigator for a 17-month project, “Integrating Data Mining and Data Management Technologies for Scholarly Inquiry."

This project will integrate large-scale collections including JSTOR and the books collections of the Internet Archive stored and managed in a distributed preservation environment. JSTOR is a not–for–profit service that helps scholars, researchers and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a digital archive that includes more than 1,000 academic journals.

This project addresses how ‘big data’ can change the research landscape for the humanities and social sciences, Marciano said.

“The idea is to enable research that integrates digital library content with computational tools and services that examine, analyze and find patterns across data sets,” he said. “Using text mining and natural language processing can be used to dynamically link related resources that connect the same persons, places and events.”

Marciano said the Digging for Data award adds to a growing portfolio of projects developed through the UNC Digital Innovation Lab, which aims to encourage collaborative, interdisciplinary and innovative digital humanities projects.

The other two principal investigators on the project are Ray R. Larson, a professor at the University of California at Berkeley’s School of Information, and Paul B. Watry, a professor in the University of Liverpool’s School of English.

U.S. funding sponsors are the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Science Foundation. United Kingdom sponsors are the Arts & Humanities Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council and the Joint Information Systems Committee. Other international sponsors are the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Marciano and Larson received a $175,000 award for the project from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Watry received 82,000 pounds from the Joint Information Systems Committee, which champions the use of digital technology in research, teaching and learning in the United Kingdom.

The latest awards, announced in early January, were the second round in the Digging Into Data Challenge. Eight projects received funding during the first round in 2009. For more information, refer to http://www.diggingintodata.org/