Online digitised text collections are normally presented in an interface with 2 or 3 levels, with different layers of complexity.
Little research has been done in this particular area. The talk was based on 15 semi-structered interviews with EEBO users. The main uses were:
- Catalogue info for retrieval
- discovering new material
- analysing material
Users didn’t always fully understand the functions available. There were links between the IT skills of users and the way they chose to interact with the resource.
The impact on research included:
- More texts can be accessed more quickly – which could mean that obscure texts take on too much importance.
- Different texts are consulted – Mss texts could be being ignored, although some users reported seeking out hard-to-find texts in order to gain brownie points with examiners. Keyword searching was sometimes used to filter boring reading!
- Different methods used – some types of research are possible for the first time, wider possiblities for investigation due to ablity to investigate corpus. This could be linked to a trend for interdiscplinary research.
Ambivalent attitude to use of electronic resources – I don’t cite EEBO – if a text is electronic it doesn’t seem to be equivalent to original! Is it better to look at the orignal?
Resources are having an impact on research, but there may be pitfalls:
- Risks of keyword searching – it has been suggested that it could impede human learning…
- Lack of understanding on how text was created – may impact on method design – more knowledge required.
Greater transparency required by resource creators and help should be offered to end users. Training should have more of a research slant to benefit use of the resource.
Feedback from room – users don’t read supplied information! Recommend proper site testing!
Notes by Neil Fitzgerald, British Library.