Update to Sources Project

November 4th, 2009 § 0 comments

We’re continuing work on the development of a Sources resource for undergraduate students of Chinese history. Much of our technical focus has been upon Zotero as a tool for the project – indeed, as the project is developing, Zotero is emerging as an equal partner to the website planned. In fact, with its dual features of accessibility and flexibility,  it may emerge as the centerpiece itself.

In the meantime, several developments along the way:

In terms of content, we’ve decided to expand the categories of temporal coverage. Originally, this site was going to focus on just the late imperial and 20th century periods. I’ve added a full set of dynastic categories to the mix, though, to allow for expansion by students working on individual research projects or courses devoted to early periods in coming semesters.

On the technical side of things, Zotero has been a very useful tool with regular updates and excellent support. We did run into one glitch an early stage in which somehow (cause still unclear) our sources collection seemed to be deleted. Technically, our project is a subcollection within the broader History and American Studies – University of Mary Washington group at Zotero. While this seemed rather a dilemma at its occurrence, all the citations that had been uploaded had in fact remained in the broader group, but their system of files and organization had been lost.

Our solution was to reconstruct the subcollection and its folders. Fortunately, the outline of our organization was saved at this same website and on an office computer that wasn’t set to automatically sync with our Zotero files. We then  moved the cites, still sitting in the general Zotero library for the UMW group, back into the folders.  (For more, see my posting and Dan Stillman’s very helpful reply here at Zotero Forums.)

Part of our speed in fixing this mishap was that it happened at an early stage in the project. It will be nice, however, to see a group backup function developed for the Zotero system.  In the meantime, to play things safe, I’m also maintaining a parallel library within my own personal collections (rather than just the groups collection) in my own Zotero setup.

More to come as the project develops…

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