eResearch Report 2017 - 2018 - Page 19



Dealing with the data
This collection will be of value to
disciplines such as medical history,
medical anthropology, sociology, arts,
politics and more.
Yeats realised the value of what
she was looking at and decided
the images needed to be digitised.
“This collection will be of value to
disciplines such as medical history,
medical anthropology, sociology,
arts, politics and more,” she says.
In addition to Yeats, the collection
has a champion in Michaela Clark,
a visual studies graduate from
the University of Stellenbosch,
who was appointed as a research
assistant to do the archiving.
Getting the ball rolling
The problem was clear to Yeats:
How do we give other researchers
access to this resource, which has
so much research potential?
The solution seemed to lie in a
digital repository that could allow
researchers – from any discipline and
anywhere in the world – to access
the information.
One of the difficulties was around
confidentiality. Some of the patient
photographs are revealing, and
most of the people are identifiable,
says Clark.
“I approached eResearch, and they
put us in touch with DLS,” says
Yeats. “That got the ball rolling.”
A solution of two parts
Kayleigh Lino and Erika Mias,
digital curation officers at DLS,
recommended a dual-system
solution using the web-based
open-source applications Access
to Memory (AtoM) and Omeka.
The entire collection is described in
AtoM@UCT, but, for confidentiality,
visual examples are only provided
when they do not reveal the
patients’ identities. The collection
is searchable and indexed, which
means researchers can query,
group and organise the collection
in different ways. This is key, says
Clark, as it allows researchers to
identify patterns in the data.
Omeka then adds another layer
to this archive: curation. “Omeka
gives us a blank slate to talk
about the pictures and show the
research possibilities,” says Yeats.
It is on Omeka that the PLC
presents the curated selection of
images as exhibits.
This collection of historical
clinical photographs has
fascinating stories to tell, says
Yeats. “By carefully framing
these images in exhibitions on
Omeka, and describing them in
AtoM@UCT, we hope to offer a
respectful engagement with our
material to showcase its value
beyond the medical field.”
See the online exhibitions at
surgeryclinicalphotos.uct.ac.za
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