THE BRITISH LIBRARY

Digital scholarship blog

30 September 2015

New opportunities for digital humanities PhD research at the BL

The British Library is looking for university partners to co-supervise collaborative research projects that will draw on – and develop – aspects of digital scholarship.

Funding is available from the Arts & Humanities Research Council’s Collaborative Doctoral Partnerships (CDP) programme, through which the Library works with UK university partners to deliver a bespoke PhD research and training programme.

Our current CDP opportunities include one project to examine the culture and evolution of scientific research, another project to investigate the changing nature of publishing in digital environments, and a third project that will apply digital techniques to forge fresh insights into the construction of scientific knowledge in the 18th Century:

“The Working Life of Scientists: Exploring the Culture of Scientific Research through Personal Archives” will involve the detailed mapping of the personal relationships of 20th century British scientists. It will draw on the Library’s Contemporary Archives and Manuscripts collections, which include personal archives and correspondence from the fields of computer science and programming, cybernetics and artificial intelligence, as well as evolutionary, developmental and molecular biology. The project will provide a unique opportunity to investigate the roles of culture, imagination, argumentation, creativity, discovery and curiosity in scientific enquiry.

“Digital Publishing and the Reader” will identify and examine new technologies used in publishing in the UK. It has a particular emphasis on examples which encourage interaction between readers, texts and authors, such as text-based online gaming, online comics, or online publishing relating to campaigns and activism. The project will inform how emerging media and new communication technologies should be recorded or collected as part of a national collection on British written culture.

“Hans Sloane’s Books: Evaluating an Enlightenment Library” will break new ground by developing digital tools to cross-reference, contextualise and analyse the intellectual significance of the library of Hans Sloane (1660-1753): physician, collector and posthumous ‘founding father’ of the British Museum. The project will draw on in-house digital-curatorial expertise to develop software tools to interrogate Library datasets and to devise ways of ordering and visualising the data. This will enable the first full evaluation of the contribution of Sloane’s library to the Enlightenment scientific community. 

Academics with interests in digital humanities and digital scholarship are invited to develop any of these research themes with a view to co-supervising a PhD project with the British Library. The projects would start in October 2016. A fully-funded AHRC studentship will be allocated to each partner university. Once recruited, the PhD students will get staff-level access to Library collections, expertise and facilities, as well as financial support for research-related costs of up to £1,000 a year.

The application deadline is 27 November.

View full application guidelines and further details about all current AHRC CDP research themes and partnership opportunities.

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