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The Linguist's Shoebox

Integrated data management and analysis for the field linguist

Tip

Principles of card filing also apply to data management in Shoebox.

Before researchers could use computers in the field, they often used index card files to manage language and culture data. (In fact, the name Shoebox recalls the common practice of storing the cards in shoe boxes.) For example, here is a possible procedure for managing anthropology data using a notebook and index cards:

Before researchers could use computers in the field, they often used index card files to manage language and culture data. (In fact, the name Shoebox recalls the common practice of storing the cards in shoe boxes.) For example, here is a possible procedure for managing anthropology data using a notebook and index cards:
  1. Write up a cultural observation in your data notebook.
  2. Decide what categories are most pertinent to the observation. Many researchers use the Outline of Cultural Materials (OCM)*.
  3. For each category that you selected, copy the observation to an index card.
  4. File an index card representing this observation under each of the categories.
Here is a corresponding procedure for managing data using Shoebox:
  1. Enter a cultural observation as a new record in your anthropology notes database.
  2. Decide what categories are most pertinent to the observation. Many researchers use the Outline of Cultural Materials (OCM).
  3. For each category that you selected, add an \anth data field to the observation record.
Notice that the two methods have important steps in common:
  • You must write up the observation.
  • You must decide what categories are most pertinent to the observation.
However, there are significant differences. In Shoebox:
  • You add category fields instead of copying data.
  • You can examine the records that contain a particular category by sorting, filtering, and displaying browse fields.

For more information about managing anthropology data using Shoebox, read the Application Guide for Anthropology.

*Shoebox does not include the Outline of Cultural Materials (OCM). The LinguaLinks® Library does include the OCM as an electronic book and as a Shoebox database. We encourage owners of the LinguaLinksĀ® Library to use this OCM database in their Shoebox Anthropology project. However, this OCM database may only be distributed to those who have a LinguaLinksĀ® Library license.

Index of tips: card filing; data management, principles; filing data
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