Open Access Research

As historians, we aren't all that accustomed to sharing our research notes. We go to the archives, we take our photographs, we spend hours pouring over documents, photographs, diaries, newspapers... why should someone else benefit from our work?

There are a number of reasons why you should want to do this. Over the two weeks of this module, we will read and discuss the arguments advanced by various historians, including

But most importantly, change is coming whether historians like it or not. Here in Canada, SSHRC has a research data archiving policy

All research data collected with the use of SSHRC funds must be preserved and made available for use by others within a reasonable period of time. SSHRC considers “a reasonable period” to be within two years of the completion of the research project for which the data was collected.

Note the conversation that ensued on Twitter after Milligan mentioned all this and also here

We will explore

  • how we can make our research notes open,
  • what that implies for how we do research,
  • and how we can use this process to maintain our scholarly voice online.

Really, it's also a kind of 'knowledge mobilization'. In the folders for this module, you will find exercises related to setting up your github account, how to commit, fork, push and pull files to your own repository and to others'. There are exercises on how to use services like,, and to make changes to a markdown file. Really, it's about sustainable authorship.

By the end of this module you will know:

  • how to work with github to foster collaboration (including 'issues' and the 'wiki' pages)
  • how to set up, fork, and make changes to files and repositories

You will also have set up:

  • your own home base or open research notebook on the web
  • a workflow for pushing your research notes to the web, using a combination of various pieces of open source software

I do expect you to click through every link I provide, and to read these materials. Otherwise, you'll begin to fall behind quite quickly.