Category Archives: Original research

History Hackathon – a collaborative happening

Students in Rubenstein Reading Room

What is a History Hackathon?

The term “Hackathon” traditionally refers to an event in which computer programmers collaborate intensively on software projects. But Duke University Libraries and the History Department are putting a historical twist on their approach to the Hackathon phenomenon. In this case, the History Hackathon is a contest for undergraduate student teams to research, collaborate, and create projects inspired by the resources available in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library collections. Projects may include performances, essays, websites, infographics, lectures, podcasts, and more. A panel of experts will serve as judges and rank the top three teams. Cash Prizes will be awarded to the winning teams.

The History Hackathon will take place over a 72-hour period from October 23-25, in the Rubenstein Library and The Edge.  All the  guidelines, rules, and details may be found at the History Hackathon: a Collaborative Happening  site.Students in the Edge

  • When:  Friday, October 23rd to
    Sunday, October 25th
  • Register: Deadline to register: Tuesday, October 20th

Contact :

Sponsored by the Duke History Department,  the Duke University Libraries, the David M. Rubenstein Library, and the Duke University Undergraduate Research Support Office.

Contributor: Susannah Roberson



Regulatory Disaster Scene Investigation- A Bass Connections Project Team and the Library

Regulatory Disaster Investigation - Bass Connections ProjectContributed by Carson Holloway

Beginning May 13th 2014,  a Bass Connection project team of undergraduate and graduate researchers faculty and I began our collaboration, meeting in a dedicated space in Bostock Library and our project team will carry on there through early July.  The Regulatory Disaster Scene Investigation project provides an opportunity to evaluate the process of assisting groups in focused research activities using the resources and expertise available through Duke Libraries. This project is in line with the projected opening of the Library Information Commons in 2015.

The broad intellectual question the group is investigating is “how does government best respond to crises?”   The outcomes from this particular Bass Connections project will include a working visit to Washington D.C. to interview regulators and officials, producing a policy brief/ white paper, and possible conference presentations. This Bass Connections group work will make a contribution to a projected edited work which falls under the umbrella of the Recalibrating Risk working group in the Kenan Institute on Ethics.

The work group was convened in the Library by Professors Lori Bennear and Ed Balleisen and began with a discussion of assignments to investigate the history of government responders to crisis such as the NTSB, the Chemical Safety Board, the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress, British Parliamentary Commissions and corresponding institutions in other countries around the globe.  The  group members were assigned the task of preparing annotated bibliographies about the institutions and their histories.

As the project moves forward, librarians with subject specialization and language expertise including Holly Ackerman on Latin America and Greta Boers who has expertise in Dutch are helping these researchers make the best use of their limited time.  Only four more weeks- yikes!  In the future it seems likely that the role of librarians will expand in assisting researchers in time-delimited participation in work groups revolving around new spaces like the Information Commons.

Carson Holloway is Librarian for History of Science and Technology, Military History, British and Irish Studies, Canadian Studies and General History

Aptman and Middlesworth Prize Winners Announced


Award Ceremony for Aptman and Middlesworth Prize Winners
When: Friday October 25, 2013
Time: 3:30 – 4:40 p.m.
Where: Thomas Reading Room, Lilly Library (Click for Map)

The Duke University Libraries are pleased to announce the winners of our 2013 Chester P. Middlesworth Awards and Lowell Aptman Prizes!

The Middlesworth Awards were established to encourage and recognize excellence of research, analysis, and writing by Duke University students in the use of primary sources and rare materials held by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library. This year the awards were presented in three categories: first-year students, non-first year undergraduates, and graduate students. The winners include:

  • First-Year Student: Ashley Gartin for her paper, “Unity and the Duke Vigil: Civil Rights Challenges at Duke University”
  • Undergraduate (non-first year): Chantel Liggett for her paper, “Divergent Priorities, Diverging Visions: Lesbian Separatist versus Gay Male Integrationist Ideology Surrounding Duke in the 1970s and 80s”
  • Graduate Student: Tessa Handa for her paper, “The Orientalist Reality, Tourism, and Photography: the Parrish Family Albums in Japan, 1899-1904”

The Lowell Aptman Prizes recognize undergraduates’ excellence in research, including their analysis, evaluation and synthesis of sources, and encourages students to make use of the general library collections and services at Duke University. These prizes are also awarded in three categories, one for first and second year students, another for third and fourth year students, and a  final category reserved for fourth year students submitting an honors thesis. This year’s winners are:

  • First/Second Year: Theodore Leonhardt for his paper, “Finding a Role: The Decision to Fight in the Falklands and the Redefinition of British Imperialism”
  • Third/Fourth Year: Mary Tung for her paper, “Engraving the Nation: The Decimal Coinage Bill of 1959, the Mint and Coinage Act of 1964, and the Creation of White South Africa”
  • Honors Thesis: Jocelyn Streid for her thesis, “The Salvation Project: The Secularization of Christian Narratives in American Cancer Care”
All are welcome at the award ceremony, to be held October 25 during Duke Family Weekend. Help us celebrate and congratulate these students on their magnificent work!


Congrats to the winners of the Middlesworth Award & Durden Prize

Parents’ and Family Weekend brings with it special events and festivities held across campus, and Duke University Libraries are not excluded from the excitement. As part of our roster of activities, we will honor the recipients of the Middlesworth Award and Durden Prize for their exceptional use of the Libraries’ special and general collections.

Our heartfelt congratulations to the 2010 winners of the Middlesworth Award for their outstanding research using materials from the Rare Book, Special Collections and Manuscript Library:

Undergraduate Award: Adrienne R. Niederriter
“Speak Softly and Carry a Lipstick: Government Influence on Female Sexuality through Cosmetics During World War II”
Nominated by Sarah Hallenbeck

Undergraduate Award: Hannah C. Craddock
“‘New Self-Respect and a New Consciousness of Power:’ White Nurses, Black Soldiers, and the Danger of World War I”
Nominated by Malachi Hacohen and Adriane Lentz-Smith

Graduate Award: Bonnie E. Scott
“Demonstrations in the House of God: Methodist Preaching and the Civil Rights Movement in North Carolina, 1960-1969”
Nominated by Laceye Warner and Kenneth Carder

And our congrats to the 2010 recipients of the Durden Prize for their use of resources from and services related to the Duke University Libraries’ general collections:

First/Second Year Award: Julia Sun
“The Myth of the Addict: Opium Suppression in Late Imperial China”
Supported by Vasant Kaiwar

Third/Fourth Year Award: Ryan Brown
“The Native of Nowhere: Nat Nakasa”
Supported by Karin Shapiro
Eugenia Cho
“Architectural Acoustics of Symphony Hall”
Supported by Dewey Lawson

Honors Thesis Award: Andrew Simon
“Intertwining Narratives: The Copts and their Muslim Relations”
Supported by miriam cooke

I would also like to recognize this year’s finalists for the Durden Prize: Lindsay Emery, Rose Filler, Caroline Griswold, Brad Lightcap, Brianna Nofil and Eugene Wang.

We will be celebrating the achievements of our winners at an awards reception on Friday, October 22 from 3:30-4:30 in the Rare Book Room. All are invited to join us for refreshments and the opportunity to honor the recipients of and applicants for the 2010 Middlesworth Award and Durden Prize.

Power tool for working with data

If you deal with large amounts of data and especially if you use spreadsheets to work with it, there is a new tool for you. Freebase Gridworks allows you to upload data and then examine, filter and do data cleanup for ‘grid-shaped data.’  Visit the Gridworks project site for more information and videos that more fully explain and demonstrate some of the functionality of this tool.

Short List of Gridworks Functions

  • Bring similar data together for normalization (CIT and C.I.T. or just plain old data entry errors)
  • Create facets based on any column of data
  • Make graphs of any two columns to quickly visualize relationships
  • Pull data from the Freebase database to add to your own data
  • Make external data sets more useful by creating linking

This is just a brief list, but visit the site for more detail and see how Gridworks could save you time in data cleanup or help to create visualizations you couldn’t before.

What *really* matters when citing sources?

You may know that two major style manuals — APA and MLA — have released new editions in the last six or so months. And if you’re aware of that fact, you undoubtedly know that both editions contain inconsistencies in their examples and enough errors to require APA to post an 8-page list of corrections and then replace its first run copies with a second printing.

The new rules have driven confused and frustrated researchers to sources such as APA’s blog, which provides examples and attempts to explain the more complicated rules (check out the DOI/URL flowchart — yes, this rule requires a flowchart), or Purdue’s Online Writing Lab (OWL), which hosts APA and MLA resources that received 3.5 million and 2.5 million hits, respectively, during September and October alone, according to the coordinator of OWL.

It is evident from these stats alone that librarians and faculty have spent countless hours supporting the researchers and students who have spent even more time formatting manuscripts to meet the unbending rules of CSE, APA, MLA and enumerable others.

As Barbara Fister posits in her ACRLog post, is this time well spent? Is research somehow made more valid when its footnotes are perfectly formatted, its works cited page spaced just so? Have we spent so much time agonizing over comma placement and tracking down database names that we’ve lost sight of the whole point of citing sources in the first place? Do our budding scholars realize that citing sources is not merely an academic hazing ritual of sorts, causing them hours of extra labor after their papers are written?

It would seem that the newest editions of APA and MLA are only muddying the waters, making it harder for researchers — especially novice ones — to achieve the true goal of citing sources: to give credit to the scholars their research builds upon and to make it as easy as possible for their readers to learn more about that work.

And if we can agree on that primary goal, how do we get back to emphasizing it rather than the arcane rules?

Facebook for Faculty (Part Two)

Name ambiguity is a recurring issue that impacts research accuracy and quality, career advancement and tenure, global collaboration among researchers, and identification and attribution of funding for institutions and individual authors alike. by Thomson Reuters (the creators of ISI’s Journal Citation Reports) allows researchers to:

  • Generate a unique identifier to ensure that your work is correctly attributed to you
  • Provide a way for your institution to properly measure your performance
  • Manage your publication list and professional profile online, in one place
  • List previous institutions in your profile to helps others find you as you move through your career

Learn More…

Written by Nathaniel King

Publish or Perish

There are a number of ways to analyze the impact of publications of a particular researcher (including yourself).  A longtime favorite has been ISI’s (Social) Science Citation Index, which has come to the web as Web of Science.  The web has introduced a number of other tools for assessing the impact of a specific researcher or publication.  Some of these are GoogleScholar (don’t forget to set your preferences!), Scopus, SciFinder Scholar, and MathSciNet among many others.

Joining this group is Publish or Perish, with a slightly different take on this process.  Publish or Perish uses data from Google Scholar, but it automatically does analysis on the citation patterns for specific authors.  After searching for an author (works best with first initial and quotes, such as “DG Schaeffer”) you can select the papers you want to analyze and you get metrics such as total citations, cites per year, h-index, g-index, etc.  Any analysis done can be exported to EndNote, BibTeX or a CSV file.

The software is available for Windows and Linux and is a quick, light, free download from the Publish or Perish website.  It’s more of a do-one-thing-well software and isn’t full of features, but this makes it easy to use.  It was created by an Australian professor and she includes some thoughts on her site about GoogleScholar as a citation tool as well as an explanation of the metrics used in the software.

Want $1000?

Want $1000?

Then enter your research paper or project into competition for the Libraries’ Durden Prize or Middlesworth Award.

Undergraduates who make exceptional use of library collections (yep, articles that you get online through the Libraries website count!) are eligible for the Durden Prize.

Undergraduates OR graduate students who incorporate materials from the Rare Books, Manuscript and Special Collections Library into their research are invited to submit papers for consideration for the Middlesworth Award.

All winners will be recognized at a reception at Parents and Family Weekend 2009 and will receive $1000.

Submissions for both awards are due to the library by 5:00 p.m. on Friday, May 15.

Note: Both awards require a faculty member’s signature, and the Durden Prize requires a short essay on your research process, so you may not want to wait till May 15 to decide to apply!

Want $1000?

Want $1000?

Then enter your research paper or project into competition for the Libraries’ Durden Prize or Middlesworth Award.

Undergraduates who make exceptional use of library collections (databases count and e-journals count!) are eligible for the Durden Prize.

Undergraduates OR graduate students who incorporate materials from the Rare Books, Manuscript and Special Collections Library are invited to submit papers for consideration for the Middlesworth Award.

All winners will be recognized at a reception at Parents and Family Weekend 2008 and will receive $1000.

Submissions for both awards are due to the library by 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, May 15.

Note: Both awards require a faculty member’s signature, and the Durden Prize requires a short essay on your research process, so you may not want to wait till May 15 to decide to apply!

Duke Library Website Under Creative Commons License

Most of the Duke Libraries’ web pages are now licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike License. What that means in non-lawyer speak is that everyone is welcome to use, share or remix the pages so licensed, under certain conditions.

Look for the logo below the footer on every relevant page. A few pages are not licensed, because of various copyright or other legal issues; they will explicitly say so.


The conditions for use are: you give credit to the Duke Libraries for the used material, you don’t use our material to make money, and whatever you make from our material must also be available for sharing and remixing.

Do you have a web site that you host or contribute to? Consider Creative Commons licensing for your site.

Written by Phoebe Acheson

IRB approval for research using interviews

Sarah Wallace has some interesting comments on the process of getting IRB approval for using (interviewing) human subjects for her Ukraine project. Here’s an excerpt:

All week, I’ve been working hard on my application for Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval of my project in Ukraine. …Procedures for protecting the rights and welfare of human subjects are the same, no matter who conducts the research; thus, student researchers like myself are held to the same standards as faculty researchers. If an undergraduate at Duke wants to conduct research that involves human subjects in any capacity, he or she must fill out a long, complicated application and send it to the Duke IRB before beginning the study.
..there is a chance that I won’t gain approval until after I arrive in Ukraine. …
Although the form took a lot of time and effort to complete, I’m very glad I did it. It really made me think through my research approach at a level of detail that I hadn’t before.


See her full post here, or check out her Notes from YkpaïHa feed on the right.

And here’s her update:

The Duke IRB liked my protocol a lot. Flattery aside, however, they had “a number” (read – “a million”) suggestions for ways to improve my consent forms and other documents.

..[I must] also prepare a separate consent protocol for the interviewees that are Ark workers/ICARR participants. As the IRB pointed out to me, these people shoulder the most risk by talking to me, so I must take extra precaution to ensure that their interviews are kept confidential.