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Criminals' tattoo analysis among research grant winners

A researcher analysing criminals' tattoos through data mining is among seven academics who have won grants courtesy of the British Academy and Jisc.

Other winners of seven new grants for academics conducting ground-breaking digital research in the humanities include projects to encode digitised missionary diaries in Africa, and to explore the history of learning difficulties through digital archives.

The Academy’s new Digital Research in the Humanities grants fund innovative research through the application of new methods and tools to existing digital resources. These methods and tools can include visualisations of large datasets, 3D modelling of historical artefacts, data mining, text mining, Geographical Information Systems, and image and sound processing and analysis.

The awards, worth up to £10,000 and tenable for up to 12 months, are provided to support the direct costs of the research. By using and re-using existing resources, such as digital collections and datasets, the research carried out from these awards will demonstrate capacity to generate new knowledge. 

The scheme includes Jisc-funded grant support for research on the UK Medical Heritage Library’s collection of 19th century texts on the history of medicine, which were digitised in partnership with the Wellcome Library. 

The full list of award-holders is:

  • Eating Yourself Young: Diet, Recipe and Vitality before Nutrition Science – Dr James Stark, University of Leeds;
  • Inside the History of Learning Difficulties – Owen Barden, Liverpool Hope University;
  • Analysing Criminal Tattoos through Data Mining and Visualisation – Professor Robert Shoemaker, University of Sheffield;
  • Curatorial Voice: Legacy Descriptions of Art Objects and their Contemporary Uses – Dr James Baker, University of Sussex;
  • Digital Mission: Encoding and Analysing Digitised Missionary Diaries in Africa – Dr Sarah Walters, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine;
  • The Effect of Literary Genre on Authorial Style: A Computational Stylistics Analysis of English Renaissance Plays, Poems, and Narrative Prose – Dr Brett Greatley-Hirsch, University of Leeds; and
  • Full-Text Searching of Early Music Prints Online (F-TEMPO) – Professor Tim Crawford, Goldsmiths, University of London.

Professor Alan Bowman, chair of the Academy’s panel that awarded the grants, said: ‘We are thrilled to present these new grants for digital research in the humanities to what is a truly outstanding group of academics. The intersection of the humanities and computer science provides exciting opportunities to glean new insights from existing resources. It is vital that academia exploits the full potential of cutting-edge digital research methods. We wish all of the award-holders the best of luck with their research and look forward to seeing the results.’

Paola Marchionni, head of digital resources for teaching, learning and research at Jisc, added: ‘We are very pleased to join forces with the British Academy to support innovative digital research. Over the last 15 years or so, digitisation has given rise to the creation of a wealth of resources which are now a fundamental part of modern scholarship, and we’re keen to maximise their use and impact through new and exciting approaches to digital scholarship.’

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