Tutorials and resources

What is digital research?

Digital research is the use of computational tools to produce new knowledge. This can be through devising new approaches to old problems, working on a scale never before possible, and by uncovering entirely new research questions. Digital research spans a universe of skills, tools, approaches and disciplines. Staff in the Digital Research Commons currently supports work in the following areas:

  • Data cleaning, modeling, analysis, and visualization
  • Data journalism
  • Digital project management and sustainability
  • Geographic Information System (GIS) data and mapping options
  • Network analysis
  • Open access publication, sharing, and reuse
  • Qualitative and quantitative data analysis
  • Research data management
  • Text mining and corpus building
  • Topic modeling
  • XML

Introductory Resources

The following resources are by no means exhaustive, but represent a sampling of good work to orient you roughly in the fields that make up digital research.

We highly recommend that one of your first ports of call in learning about digital research be Carnegie Mellon’s Digital Humanities Literacy Guide.

Likewise, A Digital Project Handbook provides a detailed guide to the essential steps needed to plan and execute a digital project.

Digital Project Management and Sustainability

  • Digital Project Management Workshop: How to Keep Your Head above Water during a Digital Project
    In this workshop, Dr Kristina Neumann (Department of History, UH College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences) and Dr Peggy Lindner (Computer Information Systems, UH College of Technology) discuss how to build and manage an evolving digital project and research team, as well as strategies for keeping the lines of communication open between the humanities and STEM.

  • Open Science Framework (OSF)
    OSF is a free, open platform to manage and support your research project and enable collaboration. OSF seamlessly integrates with Google Drive, DropBox, Google Scholar, OrcID, Zotero, and other commonly used research development and sharing. Check out OSF’s guides to learn more or contact us for an instructional session.

  • GitHub
    GitHub is a free platform for project development and collaboration, specially designed (but not limited to) projects involving software and product development and code sharing. Learn how to launch and grow your project using GitHub’s open source guides or contact us for an instructional session.

  • SharePoint Data Storage guide
    This guide provides step-by-step instructions on how to create a free SharePoint site on the UH secure network (via your UH Cougarnet credentials). A site allocates 25TB of data storage and a collaborative space for your team to organize and advance its research.

  • Google Drive File Inventory guide
    A step-by-step guide to creating a files inventory using a Google spreadsheet. This can be extremely useful if you routinely use Google Drive to develop, save, and share your research files, and need a way of sorting and organizing them all in a single place.

  • Windows File Inventory guide
    A step-by-step guide to creating a files inventory in an Excel spreadsheet using PowerShell in a Windows OS environment.

Data Journalism

  • Storytelling with Data: A Resource Guide for Data Journalism
    This resource serves as a centralized place where journalism students learn basics of data journalism, from locating data sources and understanding data to visualizing and displaying data. This project is undertaken by UH’s Data Services Librarian Wenli Gao and is supported by the American Library Association’s (ALA) Carnegie-Whitney Grant.

Research Data Management

  • UH Libraries’ Research Data Management Guide
    Our complete guide to Research Data Management, including links to resources, topic specific guidance, and templates.

  • DMPtool
    An online tool that provides funder specific guidance and a template structure to format and write a full plan. Sign in using your Cougarnet ID and password.

  • FAIR Data Principles
    In 2016, the “FAIR Guiding Principles for scientific data management and stewardship” were published in

  • Scientific Data. These guidelines improve the Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, and Reuse of digital assets. To the extent possible, DRC staff promote and adhere to FAIR principles in all activities and we recommend the original paper as a starting point for understanding researcher benefits of FAIR.

  • Managing Data and Other Materials Workshop
    In this workshop, Dr Reid Boehm (former Research Data Management Librarian, University of Houston) discusses best practices and practical approaches to managing research data and other digital research materials over the course of developing a digital project. Workshop developed and delivered virtually to research teams involved in UH Libraries’ 2021 cohort of Sponsored Projects program (January 13, 2021).

Data Handling

Data Archiving, Preservation, and Sharing

Compendia of digital research tools

  • Alan Liu’s DH Toychest
    A curated compendium of guides, tools, and other resources for practical work in the digital humanities by researchers, teachers, and students. Under continuous development, these selections are restricted to free tools or tools with generous trial periods.

  • Tapor.ca
    Browse curated lists of research tools used for studying texts. Selected by leading scholars in various fields of digital humanities, these lists represent both tried and trusted tools as well as recent advancements that offer exciting new possibilities in their field.

  • DiRT Directory (archived version)
    DiRT Directory was a broad registry of digital research tools for scholarly use. It is no longer maintained but many of the resources included in this archived version, ranging from content management systems to music OCR, statistical analysis packages to mindmapping software, are viable options for use.

Introduction to Data Visualization

  • Kieran Healey’s Data Visualization: A Practical Introduction
    A foundational guide to how to make compelling data visualizations in a clear, sensible, and reproducible way, using R and ggplot2.

  • Scott Weingart’s introduction to networks
    “Demystifying Networks” is the first in an ongoing series of introductory tutorials by Weingart on networks and network analysis. The discussion is “geared toward people with little-to-no background in networks or math, and specifically to digital humanists interested in applying network analysis to their own work.”

Text analysis and topic modeling

  • Voyant
    Voyant Tools is a free, web-based application for performing text analysis. Voyant can be used to analyze online texts or those uploaded by users.

  • Topic modeling
    The Programming Historian provides a suite of free and peer-reviewed tutorials designed for non-specialist and beginning digital humanities practitioners. This lesson introduces topic modeling and its applications. Learn how to install and work with the MALLET natural language processing toolkit.

  • Matt Jockers’ text mining course
    This two-part workshop provides a practical introduction text analysis with a special emphasis on topic modeling. It covers basic text processing, data ingestion, data preparation, and topic modeling. The main computing environment for the workshops is R.

Qualitative data analysis

  • A guide to using NVivo, research software that offers an intuitive qualitative data analysis experience. Import, organize, and code data from multiple sources, identify themes and trends among core metrics of your analysis, and visualize your data with word frequency charts, word clouds, comparison diagrams, and other outputs. NVivo11 is available in the Digital Research Commons.

  • Introduction to XML: The Basics
    This resource provides students and entry-level professionals with demonstrations of the basics of learning XML, covering topics such as Web 2.0, AJAX, RSS, Web Services, and managing XML data. This is the first in a series of modular videos.

Podcasting 101