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Database Computing for Scholarly Research

Case Studies Using the Online Cultural and Historical Research Environment

  • Book
  • © 2023


  • Presents Online Cultural and Historical Research Environment (OCHRE)
  • Covers the full cycle of data management, from initial data capture through to publication and preservation
  • Addresses the challenge of modeling Humanities and Social Sciences research data in a database platform
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Table of contents (13 chapters)


About this book

This book discusses in detail a series of examples drawn from scholarly projects that use the OCHRE database platform (Online Cultural and Historical Research Environment). These case studies illustrate the wide range of data that can be managed with this platform and the wide variety of problems solved by OCHRE’s item-based graph data model. The unique features and design principles of the OCHRE platform are explained and justified, helping readers to imagine how the system could be used for their own data.

Data generated by studies in the humanities and social sciences is often semi-structured, fragmented, highly variable, and subject to many interpretations, making it difficult to represent adequately in a conventional database. The authors examine commonly used methods of data management in the humanities and offer a compelling argument for a different approach that takes advantage of powerful computational techniques for organizing scholarly information.

This book is achallenge to scholars in the humanities and social sciences, asking them to expect more from technology as they pursue their research goals. Written jointly by a software engineer and a research scholar, each with many years of experience in applying database methods to diverse kinds of scholarly data, it shows how scholars can make the most of their existing data while going beyond the limitations of commonly used software tools to represent their objects of study in a more accurate, nuanced, and flexible way.


Authors and Affiliations

  • Forum for Digital Culture, The University of Chicago, Chicago, USA

    Sandra R. Schloen, Miller C. Prosser

About the authors

Sandra Schloen is the Director of Technology in the University of Chicago’s interdisciplinary Forum for Digital Culture, which supports computational research in the arts and humanities and offers a master’s degree in Digital Studies of Language, Culture, and History. Sandra has a bachelor’s degree in computer science and mathematics from the University of Toronto and a master’s degree in education from Harvard University. She has four decades of professional experience in software engineering and user training in both corporate and university settings. Over the years she has worked with a wide range of academic project teams in the humanities and sciences to model and manage their data and help them use advanced computational methods through all stages of research. She is the lead developer of the OCHRE database platform, whose innovative design reflects her extensive experience in digital humanities.


Miller Prosser earned his PhD in Northwest Semitic Philologyfrom the University of Chicago. He uses digital methods to study the social and economic organization of the Ancient Near East and works closely with a wide range of academic projects in other fields. Miller directs the Online Publication Service of the Forum for Digital Culture of the University of Chicago and teaches Data Management and Data Publication courses in the Digital Studies MA program.

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