I’m Sarah Middle, and I’m a second-year PhD student at the Open University, looking at how Linked Data can be integrated with existing research methodologies for the study of the Ancient World. Linked Data technologies are used to make connections between digital objects based on common features, by describing what they are and their relationships with each other in a way that can be understood by a computer. In the Humanities, it can connect objects within and across digital collections, allowing researchers to search multiple sources at once to find e.g. all objects of a particular type, from a particular place or time, or that were created by the same person. As well as increasing efficiency of these searches, it can also highlight relationships between objects that would not have been apparent otherwise. However, despite its potential, Linked Data is still not widely used by Humanities researchers – I aim to explore why this is the case, what the potential benefits could be, and how better integration with existing research methodologies might be achieved.
Before returning to study, I worked as Repository Manager at Cambridge University Library, where I was responsible for managing and curating collections of digital objects, such as articles, theses, datasets, images and videos, as well as advising researchers on how best to describe these materials in order to facilitate their discovery by other users. I had previously worked in other academic libraries, as well as Cambridge’s Admissions Office, where I managed digital media projects to encourage students to apply to the university. My previous qualifications include MA Electronic Communication and Publishing (UCL), Certificate in Web Applications Development (Open University), MA Archaeological Research and BA (Hons.) Ancient History and Archaeology (both University of Nottingham). I have a strong interest in cultural heritage collections, usability and metadata, and am also Secretary of the UK Museums Computer Group (MCG).