Paul Conway

Associate Professor of Information,
University of Michigan

Research Projects in Progress

Validating Quality in Large-Scale Digitization: Metric, Measurement, and Use-Cases. [PI], 2010-12. Institute of Museum and Library Services. National Leadership Grant Program. [$677,000]

About: The project involves innovative research on the quality of digitized books and journals in a large-scale digital repository. The two-year research project will utilize content deposited in HathiTrust to establish new metrics for defining the quality of digital surrogates and measurement strategies for describing information qualities within the context of specific use-cases. The primary goals of the research project are 1) to establish valid definitions of error in relation to specific uses of digitized volumes, and 2) to develop statistically valid methods for measuring error through processes of manual inspection. To validate the outcomes of this research, the questions of how error is defined and how it is measured will be evaluated in an open evaluation process by stakeholders and users.

Conway, P. (2011). "Archival Quality and Long-term Preservation: A Research Framework for Validating the Usefulness of Digital Surrogates." Archival Science 11 (3) [in press].

Engaging Communities to Foster Internships for Preservation and Digital Curation. [Co-PI], 2008-11. Institute of Museum and Library Services. 21st Century Librarian Program. [$631,816]

About: The project addresses several needs in the library and archival communities including a lack of educational opportunities for digital curators and preservation administrators who can work across the analog-digital boundary, scarce internship opportunities in digital curation for master’s-level graduate students, and limited dialog and cohesion among the diverse educators in this area. The three tangible products from this project are: summer internships for graduate students; a new Practical Engagement Workshop course; and a symposium for preservation educators.

Yakel, E., Conway, P., & Krause, M. G. (2009). "Thinking Like a Digital Curator: Creating Internships in the Cognitive Apprenticeship Model." DigCCurr 2009: Digital Curation Practice, Promise and Prospects, Chapel Hill, NC, April 1-3, pp. 7-11.

Digital Humanities Internship Program. [co-PI, Michigan], 2008-11. Institute of Museum and Library Services. 21st Century Librarian Program. [$167,717]

About: The project is developing a model internship program to place master's students in fully paid summer internships in digital humanities centers. Other participating iSchools are the University of Maryland and the University of Texas. In addition, the Nebraska Center for Digital Research in the Humanities, the Michigan State University MATRIX program, and the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities are grant participants and intern host institutions. A digital humanities center builds and makes available digital resources that support sophisticated new research in the humanities. The resources are usually digitized versions of primary resources, such as literary texts, photographs, and manuscripts.

Conway, P., Fraistat, N., Galloway, P., Kraus, K., Rehberger, D., & Walter, K. (2010). "Digital Humanities Internships: Creating a Model iSchool-Digital Humanities Center Partnership," Proceedings of Digital Humanities 2010, 7-10 July, Kings College London, UK.

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Preservation and Access Virtual Education Laboratory for Digital Humanities. [Senior Personnel], 2010-11. National Endowment for the Humanities. Preservation and Access Division. [$248,312]

About: The project is developing, testing, and implementing a virtual laboratory featuring digital access and preservation tools. Specifically, this project will: integrate IT tools into at least five digital access and preservation education courses for Master's students enrolled in SI's Preservation of Information, and Archives and Records Management specializations; develop and implement an IT teaching virtual lab; and freely disseminate lab tools and content specifications and curricula modules on the web:

Conway, P. & Williams, D. (2011). "Enhanced Education for Better Imaging Practices: A Case Study at the University of Michigan." Proceedings of IS&T Archiving 2011, Imaging Science & Technology, Salt Lake City, UT, May 16-19, pp. 65-70.

Research Projects Completed, University of Michigan

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Validation of Digital Objects in HathiTrust, 2009-10.
Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Program Officer’s Planning Grant. [$49,000]

About: This project is was a one-year (8/09-7/10) collaborative planning project to: define the relationship between the characteristics of digitized books and serial volumes deposited in HathiTrust and prospective uses of those volumes; establish stakeholder consensus on these definitions and uses; and prepare and submit a funding proposal to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to test and evaluate routines for validating the functional capabilities (uses) of deposited objects through a combination of manual inspection of statistically valid samples and machine processing of portions of the HathiTrust corpus, and then branding the trustworthiness of some significant subset of deposited volumes for particular uses.

Conway, P. (2010). "Measuring Content Quality in a Preservation Repository: HathiTrust and Large-Scale Book Digitization." Proceedings of 7th International Conference on Preservation of Digital Objects (iPres 2010), 19-24 September, Vienna, Austria, pp. 95-102.

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Beyond Image Retrieval: Bridging Digitization Processes and End-User Judgments in a Large-Scale Image Digital Library.[Principal Investigator], 2007-08. National Science Foundation. [CISE/III]. Small Grant for Experimental Research. [$120,719]

About: This proposal was an exploratory study of the relationships between digital conversion guidelines for Image Digital Libraries (IDL) and end-user judgments about the quality, integrity, and value of IDL content. The locus of the research is on significant collections of digitized surrogates of photographic resources in the Library of Congress's American Memory collection, a very large, internationally significant digital library. The focus of investigation in this exploratory research is the judgments of "visually intelligent" expert-scholars in several distinct disciplines, an area that has received little or no attention in the research literature but that is becoming increasingly central to the assessment of the value added through the creation of IDLs.

Conway, P. and Punzalan, R. (2011). "Fields of Vision: Toward a New Theory of Visual Literacy for Digitized Archival Photographs." Archivaria 71 (Spring): 63-97.
Conway, P. (2010). "Modes of Seeing: Digitized Photographic Archivesand the Experienced User." American Archivist 73 (Fall): 425-462. Winner: SAA Fellows' Ernst Posner Prize for best article in American Archivist
Conway, P. (2009). "Building Meaning in Digitized Photographs." Proceedings of the Chicago Colloquium on Digital Humanities and Computer Science 1 (no. 1).
Conway, P. (2009). "The Image and the Expert User." Proceedings of IS&T Archiving 2009, Imaging Science & Technology, Arlington, VA, May 4-7, pp. 142-50.
Conway, P. (2008). "Best Practices for Digitizing Photographs: A Network Analysis of Influences." Proceedings of IS&T Archiving 2008, Imaging Science & Technology, Berne, Switzerland, June 24-27, pp. 94-102.

Research Projects Completed, Other

Archival Fellowship on Electronic Records Preservation, 2004-07. National Historical Publications and Records Commission. [$265,000; $175,000] [co-PI with Helen Tibbo]

The primary purpose of this program was to facilitate both basic and applied research regarding all aspects of electronic records. More fundamentally, it was designed to support broad participation in the research process among archival practitioners and collaboration between archivists and academics.

Managing the Digital University Desktop, 2002-05. National Historical Publications and Records Commission. [$325,000] [co-PI with Helen Tibbo]

"Managing the Digital Desktop" was a project to study computer file management practices in academic units and administrative offices at University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, across the 16-campus UNC System, and at Duke University.

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Planning the Future of the Duke Databank of Documentary Papyri, 2005-06. Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. [$48,000] [co-PI with Joshua Sosin, Duke University]

About: A collaboration between DDBDP leadership and the Duke University Libraries, the planning project brought together papyrologists, information technology specialists, and librarians and administrators concerned with issues surrounding sustainability to map out a sustainable future for the DDBDP. The way forward encompassed open source and standards-based software development, greater scholarly collaboration, increased vesting of data-control in the user community, and greater interoperability with other projects.

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Project Open Book, 1992-96. National Endowment for the Humanities. [Project Director, Yale University Library]

About: An innovative exploratory research project on workflow, quality, and cost factors associated with scanning books on preservation microfilm in comparison with scanning books from original sources and creating computer output microfilm from the digital data. The microfilm scanning project took place at Yale University Library and the digital COM project took place at Cornell University Libraries.

Selected Publications:

Chapman, S., Conway, P., Kenney, A. R. (1999). Digital Imaging and Preservation Microfilm: The Future of the Hybrid Approach for the Preservation of Brittle Books. Washington, D.C.: Council on Library and Information Resources.

Conway, P. (1996). The Production-Conversion Phase of Project Open Book: Final Report to the National Endowment for the Humanities. New Haven: Yale University Library.

Conway, P. & Weaver, S. (1994). The Setup Phase of Project Open Book: A Report to the Commission on Preservation and Access. Washington, D.C.: Commission on Preservation and Access.