Visual Archiving Your Research In This Modern World

Visual Archiving Your Research In This Modern World

Archiving research data is as important as carrying out the research itself – Stillio can save the day.

Losing research data is the worst nightmare for any researcher. Most of our research finding activity these days is done digitally. You put in all that effort in finding, authenticating findings and now when you are closing in on analysis and insights, you lose that research. It would definitely be heartbreaking. This was a concern raised by multiple researchers and hence came a concept of visual archiving or digital preservation of research.

What is Archiving, And Why Is It Crucial For Your Research?

If you were to google the meaning of the term archive, it would tell you it is a collection of documents or records providing information about a place, institution, or group of people.

In this article, we are referring to visual archiving as a collection of evidence or pieces of evidence. This evidence can either be in the form of images or videos that are further helpful in analysing and understanding the constant activities of the generation. To be more precise, these images can either belong to the primary research or secondary research conducted by a researcher.

Visual Archiving And Digital Preservation Of Secondary Data

Let’s all agree that most of our current secondary research data is either “digitally-born” or is digitally available now.

Did you know? In 2020, researchers reported in a preprint that they found "176 Open Access journals that, through lack of comprehensive and open archives, vanished from the Web between 2000-2019, spanning all major research disciplines and geographic regions of the world" and that in 2019 only about a third of the 14,068 DOAJ-indexed journals ensured the long-term preservation of their content.

So it isn’t impossible to lose a very important secondary research paper that might be in a journal one day and lost the other day. So the question is, what method could we deploy to avoid losing important information in a research paper?

The answer to this is replication. Suppose that information has been replicated at a particular other place using the easiest form of storage like images. In that case, you can retrieve them whenever you want, even if the research paper or the journal it existed in has vanished.

Scenario 2: You are collecting your secondary data from a data portal such as statista, knoema, google public data platform or any other such general business data platform; you can set up a mechanism to regularly screenshot reports of your interest. This way, you can effortlessly do trend analysis.

How about you give this a try. Stillio offers you a method of creating a very easy visual archive of your research findings. It allows you to take a quick screenshot and store it on a secure cloud. It also allows you to set up a mechanism by which you can create a sequence of screenshots for trend analysis. This way, Stillio should be your single point solution for creating an incredible visual archive for really impactful research.

Visual Archiving While Doing Primary Research

I am a market researcher.  To solve the problem of market researchers, who are responsible for maintaining a log of their competitor’s digital footprints, the Internet Archive (a digital library) introduced the Wayback Machine (a public web archive) to archive websites. Although Wayback Machine is the oldest web archive, it does not eliminate the core complication when it comes to research. Any archived content does not guarantee stability. Furthermore, researchers have zero control over the pages that Wayback Machine captures. Many times, either the HTML is misinterpreted, or images are found missing. The biggest downside is they do not capture pages daily. As a result, researchers end up landing in the same problem again.

Primary research refers to those sources that are created precisely at the time of an event. In other words, you can also refer to them as direct evidence or first-hand documents of events/historical events without any secondary analysis or interpretation.

For most researchers, this would be the case; the currently available archives might not be appropriate and would definitely not cover the recent primary data you are researching. Hence it is necessary to have a tool like Stillio that can help you take screenshots at will and use them as pieces of evidence later on whenever you are analysing insights out of the details of the evidence.

Who Makes Use Of Archives?

Scholars, researchers, teachers, and students refer to archives to collect information and gather research data to explain or illustrate their current research project. Today, visual archiving has become such a tool that people use to go beyond the existing moment and study the subject better.

Initially, it was considered that archives were related to academics solely. However, people use libraries for several sorts of research today.

Case 1: Adam is a college student who is currently working on a historical research project. Lately, he has faced huge problems by jumping from one site to another to get complete information on a topic for his research. At a point, he lost the site from where he had collected the data. However, ever since he started using the automated screenshot tool, Stillio, the game changed.  With visual archiving, he can now keep a strong record of documents and data to elevate the credibility of his research. In addition, he can now learn directly from the primary sources of the historical events and see a clear visual representation of the data.

Case 2: Being a keen enthusiast of politics, Darcy wanted to keep a bird's eye view on each of the primary sources of the political sites. While he collected written information that the XYZ site stated, he wanted to have something visual to prove the statements penned by the XYZ site. With the visual archiving feature of the automated screenshot tool Stillio, he now keeps a keen eye on all the political websites that display a visual representation of the statements. While written information is credible, Darcy finds more reliability in visual proof that includes images.

Case 3: Back in 2016, Jeffrey was approached to write for a film based on the real-life of a psychiatric patient. While this might sound strange, several filmmakers and authors use archives to get way more familiar with the early times and people about which they are about to write. So, using the automated screenshot tool Stillio, Jeffrey went through all the medical records of the original character and several other sites that held helpful and valid information.

Case 4: Stacey had always been away from her family since birth. Having stayed apart for a lifetime, she decided to study genealogy. Upon becoming a genealogist, she started relying on archival sources to examine the lines of her family tree and trace their history. Later, when she began using Stillio, she started collecting documentary evidence of her family events until she realised that her family faced problems with their land. However, with the automated screenshot tool Stillio, she can now prove the status of her ancestors as original owners of the land.

Case 5: David is a trend analyst in a company. To predict what happens next, David needs to keep a keen eye on the businesses from time to time to identify any considerable changes in the flow. Without automated screenshot tools, David knows that his job is at stake. Using Stillio, he can now keep a daily record of every business, thus tracking their progress and revenue over time.

Archiving VS Self-Noting: Why Is Archiving A Scalable Option?

10 years ago, text-based forms, handwritten notes, and lengthy manuals used to work because they had to. However, today with unprecedented technological advancements, there are even more fine options to conduct your research efficiently. While typing on different modalities like computers, tablets, and iPad are preferable to many; archiving is considered a more scalable option when it comes to noting down research. Below is a brief table of comparisons between the three modalities.

Cons Of Hand-Written Notes Cons Of Digital iPad Notes Pros Of Archiving
Hand-written notes are easy to destroy. They are prone to tears and misplacement. In the worst case, you can even lose the notebook. All in all, erasing, water damage, etc., can destroy your notebook. Being a frictionless slippery surface, iPads and tablets offer an uncomfortable writing experience at the initial stage unless experienced. Archiving research data involves submitting data to a data centre, repository, or archive where it will be secured for a long-term purpose against unauthorized access, loss, future incompatibility, inappropriate access, and deterioration.
There are zero backups that you can take. Unless you scan them or keep a copy, you are left with zero research if the notebook/notes are destroyed for some reason. Hand-written notes are undeniably the oldest yet riskiest option when it comes to note safety. Here comes the most significant disadvantage. The price gap between buying a notebook and a few pens costs 10x times less than the price of an iPad or tablet. Furthermore, additional costs like the stylus, case, screen protector, etc., are huge investments to make. So it is definitely not a scalable option for many researchers out there. Archiving is excellent when it comes to confirming that the theories and concepts derived from research belong to the real world and do not exist in a simple or artificial experimental world.
Suppose you have tons to erase, and you keep erasing it until a point where the entire page rips off. Moreover, in case you highlight any of your research, erasing them gets complicated. In other words, handwritten notes are not helpful when it comes to correcting mistakes or customizing. Similar to every technological piece, iPads can run out of power and die. For example, imagine you forget to save your research, and your battery dies. This can turn out to be a significant drawback. Not only do they free up the shelf space, but it is relatively cost-effective as well. In addition, with archiving, researchers can create brand new ideas to carry out their experiments and hypotheses.
Archiving becomes extremely difficult here. For example; you have your crucial research noted down in several notebooks. With time, these notebooks can pile up and eat a lot of shelf space. Moreover, it is quite tiring to run your eyes and fingers through piles of papers when needed. Suppose you are running out of time and you need to complete your research immediately. Noting down digitally can take a longer time. Additionally, it can be a key drawback in case you don't have much time. It is an easier method to secure research data. The data gets stored on secure servers, and hence there is a total cut down on storage space, notebook expenses, and battery problems, unlike iPads.

To get a clear idea of the importance of archiving, here is a video that states why certain politicians and historians consider archiving ideal and beneficial. The footage was ideally created for The National Archives ‘ARCHIVE EXPLORED’ campaign.

There are a plethora of solid reasons to choose archiving over hand-written data. The objective here is to store data for future purposes, make easy access, and increase the efficiency and storage and collection of research data. In addition, transparent research helps in critical evaluation and thus increases the credibility of the research.

What should be the best practices of Visual archiving?

  1. You should always give preference to a cloud-based archive instead of a desktop-based archive. The desktop-based archive is more prone to malware attacks, data losses and stuff.
  2. If you are setting up a screenshot of a large document, it is advisable to break it into pieces and build an archival system.
  3. It is vital to organize, manage, shortlist, and finalize your archives in a systematic manner.

How Will Visual Archiving Impact Future Research?

Without archives or effective visual archiving, the treasure of the current research will come to an end. Not only does research help individuals to keep track of their academic developments but to secure the future of research efficiently. To sum up, visual research is becoming essential for individuals who study culture, history or are into some academic research. With this, we come to the end of this discussion. The article lists an overview of how visual archiving helps individuals proceed with their research, straight from saving archives of existing web pages to the tokens of the past. Stillio can help you visually archive every part of your research.

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