What is visual arts research data? (revisited)

This blog post charts the KAPTUR journey in the search for an answer to the question What is visual arts research data?

From the original JISC bid (July 2011):

Research data in the arts mirrors the complexity of the outputs, taking many forms including logbooks, journals, workbooks, sample libraries and sketchbooks.

Examples of visual arts research data on the KAPTUR website (October 2011): http://www.vads.ac.uk/kaptur/ The images include a fabric manipulation sample, different pages from sketchbooks, glaze sample pot, and a photographic contact sheet. These examples, as well as different examples, have been used throughout the project on posters and handouts.

The KAPTUR Environmental Assessment report (March 2012) (based upon a literature review, 24 interviews with visual arts researchers, and collaborative data analysis across four institutions) included the following statement in its concluding remarks:

There appears to be little consensus in the visual arts on what research data is and what it consists of. Variously described by the interviewees as tangible, intangible, digital, and physical; this confirms the view of the project team that visual arts research data is heterogeneous and infinite, complex and complicated.

This was followed up with a peer-reviewed journal article for the Electronic Visualisation and the Arts (EVA 2012) conference and a definition of What is visual arts research data? referencing the University of Edinburgh (April 2012):

Research data can be described as data which arises out of, and evidences, research. This can be classified as observational e.g. sensor data; experimental; simulation; derived or compiled data e.g. databases, 3D models; or reference or canonical e.g. a collection of smaller datasets gathered together (University of Edinburgh 2011a). Examples of visual arts research data may include sketchbooks, log books, sets of images, video recordings, trials, prototypes, ceramic glaze recipes, found objects, and correspondence.

This was disseminated to the Steering Group, project team, and via SlideShare (April 2012)

A further attempt was made to define What is visual arts research data? at a peer-reviewed presentation made to the Digital Humanities Congress, University of Sheffield, 8th September.

Marieke Guy, through her work with the DCC and Institutional Engagement at University of the Arts London, gave a presentation on defining visual arts research data at the Managing the Material: Tackling Visual Arts as Research Data workshop, 14th September 2012. From debate with speakers and the audience at the workshop, Leigh Garrett wrote the following statement for discussion (September 2012):

Anything which is used or created to generate new knowledge and interpretations.  Anything maybe objective or subjective; physical or emotional; persistent or ephemeral; personal or public; explicit or tacit; and is consciously or unconsciously referenced by the researcher at some point during the course of their research.  Research data may or may not  led to a research output, which regardless of method of presentation, is a planned public statement of new knowledge or interpretation.

Leigh’s statement was on the KAPTUR poster for the JISCMRD programme meeting (October 2012), available via SlideShare:

At the January Steering Group meeting the question What is visual arts research data? was again debated, although there was only one small amendment suggested to Leigh’s statement.

Finally we seem to be closer to resolving this; discussion continued last week at the University for the Creative Arts RDM training workshop. The UCA Project Officer, Anne Spalding, designed an exercise which encouraged debate from staff from the Research Office, IT, and Library & Student Services departments around the question What is visual arts research data? This has resulted in an amended definition (January 2013) written by Leigh. Discussion and feedback are still welcome:

Evidence which is used or created to generate new knowledge and interpretations. ‘Evidence’ may be intersubjective or subjective; physical or emotional; persistent or ephemeral; personal or public; explicit or tacit; and is consciously or unconsciously referenced by the researcher at some point during the course of their research. As part of the research process, research data maybe collated in a structured way to create a dataset to substantiate a particular interpretation, analysis or argument. A dataset may or may not lead to a research output, which regardless of method of presentation, is a planned public statement of new knowledge or interpretation.

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2 Comments on “What is visual arts research data? (revisited)”

  1. […] Another theme from the day was defining visual arts research data. Laura Molloy offered Leigh Garrett’s working definition for discussion in her presentation (see the bottom of this blog post: What is visual arts research data? revisited). […]

  2. […] Marie-Therese@MTG_work #jiscmrd #kaptur_mrd attempts to define ‘what is visual arts research data?’ here: kaptur.wordpress.com/2013/0… […]


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