What is a “researchathon”?
A researchathon is a collective marathon that seeks either to answer a research question or to build a research resource. This is accomplished by bringing together a group of researchers, librarians, technologists, and students in one room for a full day of collaborative work toward a specific goal. The practice derives from the culture of hackathons familiar to technologists, in which programmers gather for long hours, often late into the night, to solve a software problem collaboratively. In the humanities we have already seen a similar phenomenon in the spread of wikithons, or marathons of wikipedia editing, and the exhilarating One Week|One Tool “barn raisings.” The word researchathon was coined, as far as we can tell, by David K. Park, Director of Special Projects at the Applied Statistics Center at Columbia University. Our Césaire researchathon is the first major attempt to bring the researchathon model to research in the humanities at Columbia — or elsewhere, for that matter.
Building Aimé Césaire’s collective bibliography
Our researchathon will focus on building the largest existing bibliography of Aimé Césaire’s primary and secondary sources in one day. At the end of the day we hope to offer our work to present and future researchers of Césaire — open access on the open web. Unlike a print bibliography, ours can continue to update in perpetuity. We will depart from two bibliographic works available to us, Kora Véron and Thomas Hale’s monumental Aimé Césaire: Biobibliographie commentée, and our own open Zotero bibliography. If we are able to attract enough technologists, we might even be able to build a well designed website to port our collective work out of the Zotero ecosystem, and have a stand-alone ‘publication’ of our results.
Preparing for the event
To prepare for the event, we ask that you do the following:
- Collect all bibliographies of Césaire you already have, whether they are at the end of one of your research articles or on your notebook.
- If you haven’t done so already, install Zotero stand-alone and the browser extension corresponding to your preferred browser.
- If you are not familiar with Zotero, make sure to read the Quick Start Guide and watch the videos.
- Create a user account on Zotero.org and make sure your software is synched with that account.
- Ask to join the Aimé Césaire Zotero group.
(Don’t worry. If you didn’t get this far by yourself, we will help you get set up during the first hour of the researchathon).
The day of the event
The day of the event we will meet at the Studio@Butler (Butler Library 208b) at 10am. We will begin with a brief introduction to Zotero and make sure everyone is set up properly to participate. Following that we will have a brief introduction to the concepts of descriptive and analytic bibliography. The rest of the day we will divide ourselves into teams according to genre, time period, or task, depending on the size of our team and the hour of the day.
- To copy the bibliographic items in the Verón-Hale bibliography to our online bibliography as necessary.
- To look for entries not present in the bibliography using traditional and web resources.
- To refine and copy-edit the collective bibliography.
- Optional: To port the bibliography to a stand-alone website.
Calling all Césaire bibliographers!
The main researchathon for “The Work of Man has Just Begun” will be hosted at Columbia University on December 5, from 10am to 5pm. That said, we are interested in coordinating sister events across the world. If you are interested in getting a group of Césaire researchers or enthusiasts together and would like to participate in the researchathon virtually, please send us a line. Any group that joins us will be added to this page.