HEURIST: A unique solution to the data management needs of Humanities researchers

Heurist’s research-driven data management system allows any confident researcher or data manager to design, create, manage, analyse and publish their own richly-structured database(s) within hours, through a simple web interface, without need of programmers or consultants.

Use Sydney University’s free service (click the Try It button) to build a new database in minutes and a complete application in hours. Design and build incrementally; existing data are not affected. Nor are you locked in; migrate later to a personal or institutional server, or access data directly via SQL.

Whatever your field of study – History, Archaeology, Anthropology, Cultural Research, Linguistics, Media Studies etc. – Heurist handles everything from text, tags and categories, through networks of rich relationships and offset annotations, to  images, video, spatial data and dating (including non-western systems and dating uncertainty).

Get results: Sophisticated searches (including faceted and rule-based) can be saved, organised and rendered as layered interactive maps, timelines, network visualisations, cross-tabulations, lists, custom reports, XML and XSLT transforms, all of which can easily be printed or embedded (live) in a website. 

Designed by researchers, for researchers, Heurist reduces complex underlying decisions to simple, logical choices.

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Low Threshold

Heurist provides a ‘Low-technology threshold’ uniquely tailored to the needs of the Humanities eResearcher regardless of their programming or database skills

Heurist is designed from the perspective of a Humanities researcher rather than a business or technological perspective. The intuitive, web-based interface allows any confident researcher to build a fully-functional database tailored to their research data within a few hours to a few days (rather than months to years), and without learning to program.

PROBLEM: You need: a proper database, several entity types, relationships between entity types, full control of your information, access from multiple locations, selective sharing with colleagues, compatibility with standards, sustainable and archivable data, free and open source. You need to be able to: change database structure at a moment’s notice, import existing data, reference external data, have assistants safely enter data, publish selectively to a website, map and timeline the contents, network graph the content, do simple (cross)tabulation, and export data for analysis and visualisation. And: you don’t have a technical team, you don’t have much/any funding, and you need it today!Heurist provides the solution.  Heurist resolves the problem that eResearchers have typically faced in managing their complex research data coming from different sources and in different forms (e.g. bibliographies, research notes, images, map data etc.).As an alternative to either building a dedicated database (time-consuming and expensive) or knocking together an ad-hoc solution using whatever tools are to hand (creating a ‘silo’ environment), Heurist offers researchers an integrated, free and Open Source single web-based tool to handle all of your data, allowing you to build your own, complex databases without investing in technical expertise.

Any researcher can now rapidly create a simple database in minutes and a complex one in hours; a database with a host of advanced features that would not have been available without special programming, such as the ability to: reuse data models created by other users; publish information to the web; access information from anywhere; share data (selectively) with colleagues; and visualise data through maps, timelines and network charts.

Simple forms provide helpful tips that allow for the easy creation of new entity types and relationships, addition and modification of fields, addition of new terms, data verification, bulk edits, data import and data export.

And Heurist incorporates features such as repeatable fields, simple creation and use of relationships (record linking), automatic mapping and timelines, on-the-fly record structure change, and sharing of pre-configured database schemas through a central clearing-house.

You can use the free service hosted at the University of Sydney Data Centre (heurist.sydney.edu.au) or one of the other listed services, or you set up Heurist on your own server or cloud service in a couple of hours. Databases are easily migrated between servers.

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