Elizabeth Sharrow, 2010 Dissertation Proposal Development Fellow, shares her story of using federal data in her research. The value of these collections is not just for researchers. Archival data provide a fundamental starting point for public conversation on the details of political conflict and compromise. They guard against revisionist interpretations of our political past. They implicate all Americans in the shared project of contesting and resisting a world devoid of political history.
Parameters publishes scholarly articles addressing a set of complex, persistent questions at the heart of social science research: How does (and, ultimately, should) the production and distribution of knowledge change under digital conditions? How is it changing already? What do the interactions between academic institutions and the online world look like, and what new institutions and worlds are being created? The forum, part of the Social Science Research Council’s Digital Culture program, is intended to address the question of “knowledge under digital conditions” across a variety of themes: from big data to small, from privacy to transparency, from access to sustainability. Articles about new methods in computational social science complement essays about new modes of scholarly publication. Some of these articles come directly from participants in the program’s activities—for example, the current series of articles on Curating Knowledge from members of a working group of the same name. To learn more about the goals of the site and the content published here, read program director Jason Rhody’s introduction to Parameters.