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Interested in applying to Machine Reading the Archive Projects?
Read our FAQ here.

Machine Reading the Archive Projects provides PhD students and staff at the University of Cambridge individual mentoring and support in developing a digital archives project. MRtA Projects is part of the Cambridge Digital Humanities Learning programme

We offer supported projects four one-to-one mentoring sessions which provide guidance on digital research project design and management, advice on the application of digital methods relevant to your needs in data collection, preparation and analysis. The emphasis in these sessions will be on building your confidence to apply digital methods for yourself and participants should expect to work on their projects in their own time in addition to attending the mentoring sessions.

All projects are expected to write a reflective blog post about their project and give a short presentation at the end of programme workshop in June 2019.

MRtA Projects runs December 2018 – June 2019.

Q. How many projects are you planning to support?

We expect to support 4-5 individual projects

Q. What kind of digital archive projects do you support?

We are open to proposals which explore any aspect of the creation, curation, management, analysis and publication of digital archival data. This includes projects working with digitised archival data (such as scanned images or pdfs of material texts and objects) and projects working with 'born-digital' archival data (such as emails, digital documents, transcriptions, metadata or html files).

Your project may relate to a digital archive that you have created yourself, for example through visiting archives and taking digital photographs of documents for study and analysis 'off-site', or it may involve collection and analysis of data from someone else's digital archive project.

Q. I am not sure which digital methods are right for my project: is this the right programme for me?

Yes, you are welcome to apply. If we select your project we will support your experimentation with different methods, with the aim of helping you scope what is available and suitable for the questions you want to answer and make a better-informed choice about what to add to your methodological toolkit. The key thing is to have clearly formed questions to answer or problems to solve, and to be prepared to experiment.

Q. I have no prior experience of programming - can I apply?

Yes. We are happy to consider applications from researchers with no programming experience. One of the aims of MRtA Projects is to help you with the process of scoping out which digital methods are right for your research. Your mentor will offer hands-on, practical tuition and support wherever possible, or provide advice on how to access self-directed learning or courses from other training providers.

Q. What is the time commitment?

The minimum time commitment is 4 hours of mentoring sessions over six months, plus attendance at the final half-day workshop. However, the emphasis in these sessions will be on building your confidence to apply digital methods for yourself and participants should expect to work on their projects in their own time in addition to attending the mentoring sessions. All projects are expected to write a reflective blog post about their project and give a short presentation at the end of programme workshop in June 2019.

We strongly advise participants to attend relevant sessions in the Machine Reading the Archive programme [add link] and we can advise you on other training sessions and research workshops which will complement the work you are doing on your project.

Q. Do have I have to own the data I am using in my project?

No, but we will need to work with you to identify whether you can obtain the rights to use the data during the programme and we will ask you to be prepare a 'Plan B' in case you cannot achieve this. For example, if you need to apply to a publisher for access to a digital corpus for text and data-mining we may propose alternative open-access corpora which will allow you to explore the methods you want to use in your project in a test corpus.

Q. I am not a researcher, can I apply?

Yes. If you are a librarian, computer officer, archivist, employee of Cambridge University Press you are very welcome to apply for the programme, provided you are able to commit the time for the mentoring sessions and you are employed by the University, one of the Colleges or CUP.

Q. I am not a PhD student or staff at the University of Cambridge, can I apply?

No, unfortunately we cannot offer MRtA projects outside the university. However the end of programme workshop and some of our advanced workshops will be open for public booking or applications. Please sign up for the Digital Humanities mailing list to receive notifications about public events related to the programme.

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