I have to admit that I found this week’s reading uninspiring. The creation of Thematic Research Collections seems like a good idea, but Palmer’s take on their function was not very insightful. In fact, I have to quibble with Palmer’s definition and explanation of research. She writes:
Scholars are not only constructing environments where more people can do research more conveniently, they are also creating new research. Like other scholarship in the humanities, research takes place in the production of the resource, and research is advanced as a result of it.
What kind of research is the production of a resource? It certainly is valuable and has scholarly uses, but do we need to make a distinction between the gathering and curating of resources and the use of those resources to make a scholarly contribution or argument? At the least, Palmer does not consider this distinction and its potential importance.
In addition to reading Palmer, I browsed the Writing of Indigenous New England project on the Omeka site. It confirmed my sense that TRCs can be extremely valuable resources. That site has a substantial collection of writing and is organized both by collection and exhibit. Some sections could provide more context and the layout could be improved to make the site easier to navigate, but it has a nice variety of resources.
The Women Writer’s Project Collection also confirmed the utility of TRCs. I see that they are in the process of redesigning that collection, and it looks like the future collection will be easier to navigate. My favorite part of the collection was the lab section, which contained a number of interesting visualization tools, like this one.