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Digital Humanities research guide: Tools & methods

Tool directories

DIRT Directory is a registry of digital research tools for scholarly use. DiRT makes it easy for digital humanists and others conducting digital research to find and compare resources ranging from content management systems to music OCR, statistical analysis packages to mind mapping software.

TAPoR (Text Analysis Portal for Research) is a portal that allows you to discover text manipulation, analysis, and visualization tools, read tool reviews and recommendations, and tag, comment, rate, and review collaboratively.

Text analysis

Voyant Tools is a web-based text reading and analysis environment. It's designed to make it easy for you to work with your own text or collection of texts in a variety of formats, including plain text, HTML, XML, PDF, RTF, and MS Word.  Once you have loaded your textual corpus, use one of 

MALLET is a Java-based package for statistical natural language processing, document classification, clustering, topic modelling, information extraction, and other machine learning applications to text. Topic models are useful for analyzing large collections of unlabeled text and the MALLET topic modelling package is used frequently in digital humanities textual analysis. 

R is a popular and freely available open source statistical language that is used for data manipulation, data visualization, and statistical analyses.  

  • The Research Commons offers workshops on using R for textual analysis on a semesterly basis.  
  • Text Analysis with R for Students of Literature by Matt Jockers also provides an excellent tutorial for using R with a large textual corpus. [online or print]

Juxta is an open-source tool for comparing and collating multiple witnesses to a single textual work. Originally designed to aid scholars and editors examine the history of a text from manuscript to print versions, Juxta offers a number of possibilities for humanities computing and textual scholarship.

Data visualization

Tableau is a data visualization tool that is being used to help analyze data and illustrate the patterns and insights behind them.

Gephi is graphing software that provides a way to explore data through visualization and network analysis.

Spatial humanities

Story Maps is an online application that lets you combine authoritative maps with narrative text, images, and multimedia content to tell your story.  Copernicus and his Universe is an example of a digital project built with Story Maps.  

Neatline is a geo-temporal exhibit-builder that allows you to create beautiful, complex maps, image annotations, and narrative sequences from Omeka collections of archives and artefacts, and to connect your maps and narratives with timelines that are more-than-usually sensitive to ambiguity and nuance.

ArcGIS and QGIS are Geospatial Information Services (GIS) applications for the visualization and analysis of geographic data via the creation of maps.  

  • SFU researchers can obtain a license to ArcGIS through the Library.  QGIS is an open source GIS application and is available on Macs and PCs in the Research Commons.
  • Visit the GIS + Maps Research guide for more information about using geospatial tools and data and to book a consultation with a GIS facilitator.

Digital publishing

Omeka is a free, flexible, and open source web-publishing platform for the display of library, museum, archives, and scholarly collections and exhibitions. Visit the Showcase page to see examples of digital exhibitions built with Omeka.

Scalar is a free, open source authoring and publishing platform that’s designed to make it easy for authors to write long-form, born-digital scholarship online. Scalar enables users to assemble media from multiple sources and juxtapose them with their own writing in a variety of ways, with minimal technical expertise required.

Drupal is an open source content management software. It's used to make many of the websites and applications you use every day and is a common platform for digital humanities projects. 

  • Drupal for Humanists by Quinn Dombrowski is intended for scholars, librarians, museum and archive professionals, and others with a humanistic background who want to build robust digital projects using the open source content management system Drupal. A print copy of this book is available in the Library.
WordPress is web software you can use to create a beautiful website, blog, or app. WordPress started as just a blogging system, but has evolved to be used as a full content management system and so much more through the thousands of plugins and widgets and themes.  
The Public Knowledge Project, a global research and software development initiative at the Library, provides free hosting and support to SFU faculty and students for its open source publishing software, including Open Journal Systems, Open Monograph Press, and Open Conference Systems.
  • SFU faculty and students are currently using OJS for their scholarly journals and book publishing projects.
  • Library support includes technical training, as well as access to critical publishing services such as ISSN registration, indexing assistance, Digital Object Identifier registration, digital preservation, social media communications, analytics, and more.