Removing Barriers to Digital Scholarship

Emerging from the field of humanities computing with its origins in the late 1940s, digital humanities (DH) is, in many ways, still a growing discipline. With that growth comes a mix of exciting opportunities for researchers and libraries, as well as a host of challenges still to overcome.

When performing analyses, finding, cleaning, and organizing data, natural language processing (NLP) for historical texts is often a daunting task, especially when looking to generate meaningful results. Gale Digital Scholar Lab removes these barriers and streamlines the workflow process, allowing researchers to spend more time identifying previously undiscovered data, testing theories, analyzing results, and gaining new insights. 

Bringing Innovation to Digital Humanities

For researchers, DH scholarship is fueling new ways of interrogating content, analyzing insights, and outputting discoveries, and is fundamentally shifting how scholars partner together to make new types of research possible. Collaboration is a key driver of change as people with diverse backgrounds and skills come together to address common barriers related to applying new computing tools to content that may not always be prepped and accessible.

Advanced Humanities Computing Capabilities for Every User

As expert content curators and skilled technologists, librarians are natural collaborators throughout this process. Libraries around the world are embracing the opportunity to help faculty and students navigate groundbreaking research methodologies and achieve new outcomes by pairing computational analysis tools with high-quality content. While funding for humanities resources is increasingly limited, DH initiatives typically garner more support than traditional programs, positioning libraries well to actively engage at every step of the process.

A New Lens for Historical Texts

Together with libraries, Gale is poised to help colleges and universities launch, enhance, or accelerate their digital scholarship programs, strengthening connections with faculty and students. Gale Digital Scholar Lab, developed with participation from beta testers across a wide range of institutions and organizations, is designed to transform the way scholars and students access and analyze Gale primary source materials by offering solutions to some of the most common challenges facing researchers in the digital humanities today. By integrating an unmatched depth and breadth of digital primary source matter with the most popular DH tools, Gale Digital Scholar Lab provides a new lens to explore history and empowers researchers to generate world-altering conclusions and outcomes. Through advanced humanities computing tools that make natural language processing (NLP) for historical texts accessible, more efficient, and impactful, the footprint of digital humanities can be expanded to more classrooms around the globe.

How the Lab Works

Creating a Content Set

The Gale Digital Scholar Lab gives users the ability to create custom content sets containing as many as 10,000 documents. Users can search across their library’s Gale Primary Sources holdings and seamlessly select documents to be added to their custom content set.

Analyzing Content Sets

Users can analyze and interrogate the data with the text analysis and visualization tools built into the Gale Digital Scholar Lab. Digital humanities analysis methods include: Named Entity Recognition, Topic Modelling, Parts of Speech, and more.

Managing and Sharing

Users’ content sets remained saved in the Gale Digital Scholar Lab allowing them to manage their research for long term projects. Users can publish their outputs with confidence retaining all intellectual property rights and are free to share analysis outputs.

Look Inside

While creating a content set, users can view document scans side-by-side with OCR text allowing them to select documents more confidently.

With the Named Entity Recognition (NER) tool users can extract proper and common nouns from documents using a Parts of Speech tagging method, and output them as lists grouped by entity "type".


Users can review and manage their metadata, documents, analysis results, and search history for use in or outside of the Lab. They can also work iteratively with their content set to create versions of their analysis results.

Users can create a custom text cleaning configurations to optimize their results. Additionally, we have added non-English default starter lists to the text cleaning workflow. The language options made available to users align with known publication languages identified in Gale Primary Sources.

Which archives are available to use with Gale Digital Scholar Lab?

Reviews & Testimonials

“This innovative and fascinating platform is useful both for seasoned digital humanities researchers and others interested in experimenting in this emerging field. Librarians eager to steer patrons toward library collections will appreciate the opportunities for collaboration this tool provides. Finally, humanities professors will find it helpful for introducing students to textual analysis and digital literacy. Recommended particularly for large research institutions, especially those already invested in Gale Primary Sources.”
—Brian T. Sullivan, Library Journal

"The Digital Scholar Lab operates in a Cloud-based research environment, which provides libraries with valuable savings, but, maybe more importantly, the Digital Scholar Lab will encourage students and scholars to use library resources to complete projects. It is hard not to be excited about the possibilities opened up by digital humanities generally and by the Digital Scholar Lab in particular. The appeal to graduate students and scholars is obvious, but the Digital Scholar Lab also has the potential to make in-depth research accessible to undergraduates. Highly recommended for academic libraries."
—ARBA Staff Reviewer

"Digitization of archives and technology-based text analysis have changed the field of humanities research. Gale's Digital Scholar Lab works with a library's subscription to Gale Primary Sources, connecting students and scholars with easy-to-use tools to explore many angles of analysis. For libraries with a collection of Gale Primary Sources that support students and scholars in the humanities and social sciences."
— Susan Maguire

Answers from Gale's Expert Scholars

Wendy Kurtz, Ph.D., Hispanic Languages and Literatures, and Sarah Ketchley, Ph.D., Egyptology, serve as in-house scholars and advisors to Gale and its library partners. As Digital Humanities Specialists at Gale, they leverage their expertise and innovation in digital humanities research and teaching, and provide key insight to and from the scholarly community. Hear their thoughts on how Gale’s Digital Scholar Lab can fuel innovations in scholarship at your university.


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