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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.