Crime in the Community

Enhancing user engagement for teaching and research with the Old Bailey Online website.

Crime in the Community assessed the ways in which the Old Bailey Proceedings Online website was being used, and generated a series of new tools and online facilities that allowed educationalists and researchers to make more effective use of the 120,000,000 words of highly tagged and accurately transcribed historical text available through the site.crimeinthecommunity1-1200x477

The project had two phases. First, user analysis of the website was conducted. It collected and analysed statistical data relating to site usage (using weblogs, Google Analytics and an online survey), and conducted an interview-based investigation of how the site was being used (or not used) in undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and academic research. The outcome of this investigation informed the second phase of the project, the creation of new online facilities, tutorials, and study guides. These  included the creation of a registration and workspace facility, enabling both individuals and groups to collect trials and other resources into study collections that could be annotated and tagged with keywords. Additionally, the project generated a series of tutorials to facilitate the use of the site with externally available online reference managers and social bookmarking sites; teaching guides to help academics use it in their teaching; and study guides to support the site’s use as a free standing historical resource.
All the features added to the Old Bailey website were designed to make them easily transferable to other online resources. The final project report included evaluations of these features by student, teacher, and research users, and explanations of how the new features could be adapted for other resources. Other deliverables included an in-depth analysis of user engagement; and a functioning registration and workspace.


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Duration: 1st October 2010 – 31st March 2011

Project Team

  • Prof. Tim Hitchcock (University of Hertfordshire)
  • Prof. Robert Shoemaker (University of Sheffield)
  • Dr Sharon Howard (Project Manager – The Digital Humanities Institute)
  • Jamie McLaughlin (Developer – The Digital Humanities Institute)