Category: Week 5

Research Issues

During the summer of 2016, I started my first research project, and I was using digital humanities tools. There was so much I had learned from that experience from archiving data to using Omeka and Neatline. There was not a steep learning curve in terms of the platforms I was using. Instead, the most difficult part of the research was learning how to conduct “research,” especially in the (digital) humanities field. I thought that I would be able to anticipate some of these challenges again, but I still had some trouble along the way.

The most important experience I gained was that research can change while one is investigating different materials and resources. For me, I always view a big picture when I begin my research project. I can picture methodologies, the end goal, life after the project, ways to incorporate it for a bigger audience, etc. However, this can become a real issue when I only have eight weeks to produce meaningful conclusions. Thus, thinking I learned from the previous summer, I fell into this trap again.

I had to re-scope my  project each week in order to make further advances. Thus, the number of newspapers and monuments I wanted to archive dwindled, and the number of platforms I had wanted to use. Now I know that less is truly more. When you have less material, I thought it meant that my project was becoming less-meaningful and that if I had eight weeks I could have produced more if I would have worked harder. But, since I made my scope smaller, I realized that I can dive into more specific and interesting texts to uncover materials that were not previously sought after.

This brings me to my next problem within conducting research. I have a constant need to examine whether or not my research is actually contributing something to this world. Being a humanities major on Bucknell’s campus along with a plethora of natural science and engineering majors can be a hassle. Sometimes when I talk to science majors about the research I do, it is looked down upon as unimportant. Later after thinking about my contributions through my research, I realized that this is quite the contrary. A science major’s and a humanities major’s research both contribute to meaningful research to their areas of studies if they choose to put the time and effort into their work. Also, I have a different audience than a science major and different plans for the afterlife of my work. It will and it should take different forms.

Another problem is that it is difficult to conduct research alone while being efficient. There are distractions in life and certainly during the summer. I found that working in a group setting and getting automatic feedback proved to really push me along. Sometimes when working alone, I did not realize how slow I was reading or archiving materials.

Overall, I hope that in my next future research project, I can become much better at creating a scope that fits well within my timeframe. I really enjoy discovering new materials that I never knew existed within my studies and I feel very lucky to be learning through my own archiving. I really enjoyed learning all of the digital platforms, and I hope I can use them in further projects in class or conducting research. There is so much more to learn about research and many avenues that humanities research can take that I know I want to do more projects after this one. But until then, these last three weeks will be hectic, pulling all the information together and creating different visualizations!

Week 5 – Rennie Heza

This week our facilitators asked us to write about some of the challenges we’ve faced through the first 5 weeks of the DSSRF program. I will focus specifically on the struggles encountered in the fifth week. That is not to say I didn’t have issues through the first four weeks, but this week has been particularly challenging, and the issues arising this week are still being dealt with.


The largest concern this week involved the model I have created. The model, though fairly accurate in my trials, seems to be accurate by luck. An advisor to the project has informed me that he can identify at least two crucial facets of the sports that are left out of my model. In other words, my model doesn’t account for certain teams’ strengths and weaknesses, and thus will prove to be not accurate when using past or future data. Though serious, I’m optimistic that this issue will be resolved. I have worked to incorporate the missing portions of the game of hockey into my model by adding to my data. This has forced me to return to the very primitive steps of the project: testing relationships between individual metrics and team success. As tedious as this may be, the process is crucial in establishing a sound model. Simply creating a model based on observed causes of team success is insufficient to say the least. This process has slightly derailed the week’s already busy schedule, but by the end of the upcoming holiday weekend, I fully expect to be back on track.


A large portion of the time spent as a group this week was dedicated to learning Scalar, a site creation tool tailored to the needs of Digital Scholarship projects. Scalar allows me, the creator, great freedom in design, while consistently producing a high quality site. The Scalar projects we observed last week at the DSSF Meet-Up at Bryn Mawr were professional in appearance, and rich with information. This week, I struggled to find this balance. “Not too wordy.” I told myself. Yet I felt I needed the entirety of 4 pages to contains the methodology of my project alone. The help of others was desperately needed, but it took me hours of struggle to realize this. The keen eyes of my peers were the keys I needed. No matter how many times I reread my work, I didn’t catch the numerous repeats of information, and the poorly worded explanations scattered throughout the text. After being identified by my peers, these flaws were corrected, and my methodology was condensed to a mere one and a half pages. Though I anticipated a struggle to mold Scalar to the form I wanted, the hardest challenge was keying in on the material to include on the Scalar page.


As in any project, I’ve faced challenges throughout the process. This was expected. The solutions however, have not been. Each has involved the minds of others: peers, facilitators, advisors, and even family members. This week was another stark reminder that although I tell people I’m conducting independent research this summer, the final project will be credited to many people beyond myself.

Week 5

The past few weeks have shown me the importance of making deliberate decisions with convincing justifications. Given the amount of freedom we have to develop our research questions and final projects, the process of deciding the direction in which to take my work proved to be a challenging one. I wanted to focus on internet development in China, but this topic remains very broad and can be explored in several different ways. It is only after reading reports by CNNIC and various other articles that I decided to focus on the areas in which consumers in China feel the greatest impact and is most evident in people’s everyday lives.

The next step would then be to understand the different developments that have been rapidly growing in importance in China over the past few years. I have seen snapshots of these changes through my short visits back, and hence started my project off intending to focus on the ones that I saw the most of and felt the greatest presence – Alibaba, WeChat, Didi Dache, Dianping. However, as I continued researching and reading about the topic, I was introduced to the complexities of internet companies in China. It was a challenge understanding the connections between different companies and recognizing the scale of each company’s influence within the market. I soon realized that Alibaba and Tencent were far more significant than Didi DaChe and Dianping. Baidu, a search engine company which I never intended to touch upon, became difficult to ignore as it appeared on reports and articles time and again. After further research, I decided to focus on the ‘Big Three’ and hopefully briefly touch upon the other companies they are each investing in and competing against.

Working on the timeline for Alibaba forced me to really think about the focus and purpose of my project. The audience I am writing to is likely to be someone not entirely familiar with China’s e-commerce or instant messaging companies, so I drew parallels of these companies to those of the US’ that reach a far wider audience all across the world. Also, among the numerous events that the company deems ‘significant’, which are the ones that I should fit into my timeline to answer my research question? Looking at reports from the perspective of a typical consumer, I picked out the ones that are most meaningful to the public and omitted what may be relevant to perhaps an investor or even the government.

I don’t want my final project to just be a business report of the three different companies I have decided to focus on without any further analysis of the data and pieces of information collected. It is definitely more difficult finding relevant reports and articles in these areas that add meaning to the data available, and this is an area I will continue to work on.