The History Data Management Lifecycle (HDML) model

The History Data Management Lifecycle (HDML) model

3. The History research Lifecycle (HRL)

One difficulty with developing the HDML is placing it clearly in context. A serious question that may be asked is:

“Where does the Data Management process fit with the lifecycle of a typical dissertation, thesis or piece of research?”

The answer is simple:

“... at every phase of the research cycle.”

A typical history research project (dissertation, thesis, funded project, etc.) will develop along a path from conceptualisation to completion. Figure 1 below demonstrates a typical History Research Lifecycle (HRL).


 Figure 2: The History Research Lifecycle (HRL)

The “phases” in the developing HRL (Conceptualisation, Literature/Material Review, etc.) are not necessarily fixed for every project; projects vary in content, context and perspective which will affect these phases in terms of relevance/applicability and/or placement. However, a typical research project will include the phases shown in Figure 1, which may be used to develop a project lifecycle that is specifically geared for a particular project.

Logically, if any of the phases are missed, skipped or incomplete, there will be an impact on the entire project. This may lead to serious delays, poor quality outcomes, or even complete failure.

The HRL is a continuous, cycling loop that may flow from one project or piece of research into another. The elements of different research may overlap with the current research, and phases may be developed in partnership (as in a multi-disciplinary and/or multi-institutional project). Each piece of research will have its own lifecycle that applies, but is not necessarily independent of other project lifecycles.

Figure 3: Multiple Research Lifecycles

One aspect that is often overlooked is that the logical cycle requires the researcher to regularly review all phases of the cycle throughout the lifespan of the project to ensure that each phase has met, and continues to meet, its desired outcomes. “Review” in this sense may mean a regular check to ensure that the protocols established in an earlier phase are being met and complied with. For example, A thesis that is being written up will need the researcher to regularly verify that the basic conceptualisation phase is being referenced to avoid going off topic, and ensue that the research aims and outcomes are actually being addressed. Similarly, failure to reference the literature review may well lead to unfocussed and/or irrelevant work being undertaken to the detriment of the overall thesis.

In some cases, the completion phase simply returns to the conceptualisation phase and the process begins again. Large, multiple output, multiple partner projects may fall into this category. Individual research, such as a thesis may also fall in this category if the researcher has ambitions to continue the research after the thesis has been completed. For example, the researcher may regard their thesis research work as an element of a larger body of work to be developed later I their research career. In any event, the research carried out, despite being highlighted in the thesis, may well be useable again after the logical lifecycle is complete.