It is such a huge relief to be finishing up my Student Protests project. This project has taught me a lot about everything involved in DH projects. I got a first hand experience doing research, creating a database, and doing analysis.
The most challenging part of this project has been collecting the data. There were many road bumps that I ran into while collecting my data. For one, I was using ProQuest as my only source for the articles. ProQuest is limited to articles that have been archived online by MSU’s partnership with associated press organizations, therefore if the press doesn’t update their own database with most recent articles ProQuest does not update either. To get a holistic sample with current articles included, I searched sites such as Lansing State Journal, and The State News for recent articles about student protests. Another thing I do not like about ProQuest is that search results are so specific to the search term for example there is a huge difference between searching Michigan State University and “Michigan State University” and Protest and Protests.
I also am limited by what is actually archived online. There are many sections in the MSU library that include news articles but they are not archived online. The librarians informed that the library has advanced OCR technology for archival purposes but the waiting list is long and usually reserved to faculty and people with research grants. There is a whole chunk of missing data from the corpus from years before the 1990s, including women’s rights and Vietnam war protests. If I were to continue growing this project I would take it upon myself to go through some of the protest articles and summarize them in my database. I am especially curious about the Iraq war protests in comparison to Vietnam war protests which was the last war in which we drafted soldiers.
I am using Google’s Fusion Tables for my analysis so I can filter out data and report only data that pertains to my research questions, for example researching the number of people involved in only Anti-war protests. I also really like that Fusion Tables comes with many different charting options, such as pie charts and line graphs, even network graphs. Using Fusion Tables I am also able to create a geographical map of where the different protests were located. For my project I am exploring how location effects outcome of protests, or if it does at all. To do this I am comparing the protests with the most people involved to their locations.
Overall I think that this project would be a great one to use on my portfolio. It will be a great display of all the concepts we have learned through the semester such as: researching, data analysis, database creation, mapping, and summarization of results. I also am learning a lot by making my results public. By letting other people interpret the data, I must make it as clear as possible and set clear definitions of anything that could be misconstrued.