Module 10 Annotation

Annotation: Historical Datasets of 

Roman History


Online digital scholarship projects are abundant. Parsing a digital project is important to figure out what it’s trying to accomplish, what research goals. It helps to have a set of reliable criteria to use to break down a project into its components. The video by Dr. Miriam Posner lays out the 3 basic layers of a project.

Objectives for Annotation

  • Critically evaluate an historical dataset, with particular attention to how certain the researchers were in their source base.
  • Formulate historical questions that can be answered by the dataset.


  • Choose a dataset that is downloadable as a spreadsheet (.csv or .xlsx files — do not choose a dataset that is presented as a shapefile or .shp only)
  • Analyze your historical database and complete the write-up by Friday, 11pm. Post your write up (do not include the instructions or overview sections) to the discussion board.
  • Reply to 1 other post by Monday, 11pm. 

Write-Up due Friday, 11pm

Answer the following questions for your historical database. Include parenthetical citations in your answers when you paraphrase or quote ideas and information from the readings or the historical database websites (treat it like a primary source text). Cite the historical database as: (Abbreviated Title). Cite the assigned readings as: (“Title of Article”). 

  1. List the following metadata for the dataset: Title, Authors, Publisher (institutional connections), Date Created, Temporal Coverage, Spatial Coverage, Rights. 
  2. Open the dataset in either Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets. Read the “Read me” tab to get the scope of the project. Close read the “Key to Codes” and “Table of Contents” tabs if available. 
  3. Using the abstract, “Read Me,” “Key to Codes,” and Table of Contents” tabs, write a paragraph about the sources in the dataset and how they were processed. If you need a refresher on Sources and Processed, go back to Module 2 and Miriam Posner’s explainer on Sources, Processed, and Presented. 
  4. Write 2 historical research questions that can be answered by this dataset.
  5. Explore the dataset using the built-in visualization tools. 
    1. In Microsoft Excel, use the Ideas feature: use it for the whole tab and/or select a column in the dataset and click the Ideas button. 
    2. In Google Sheets, use the Explore feature: use it for the whole tab and/or select a column in the dataset and click the Explore button. Here’s a 1 minute YouTube video overview of where the tool is and how to use it. 
  6. Select 1 graph that illustrates something meaningful about the data and take a screenshot. Write a short caption and description about the graph: what it shows and why you picked it. 
  7. Select 1 graph that is a bad visualization of the data for historical purposes and take a screenshot. Write a short caption and description about the graph: what it shows and why it is terrible. 

Engage by Monday, 11pm

  • Each student will read and engage with at least 1 other group’s source and post by following the “I notice, I wonder” format. 
    1. For example, “I noticed that the jade cong was valued for burials and rituals. Last week’s reading about rice cultivation described how populations settled around the Yangtze River. I wonder how far people had to go to find and mine jade, or if it was close by and part of the geology and environment that helped develop rice cultivation.” 
  • Use information from the assigned readings and videos to support your response. Take at least 15-30 minutes to carefully read the post, examine the source itself, and compose a thoughtful response that furthers our understanding. Quality comments build on the ideas and work of the original post. Avoid repeating or rephrasing what has already been said. 
  • You may reply to more than 1 post — your 1 best response will be what I grade for this assignment. 
  • Spread out responses among groups — don’t rush to post on the earliest posts you see. 

Evaluation Criteria

Clarity of Ideas: demonstrates completion of analysis and close reading of the historical datasets.

Completeness: All questions are fully answered. All quotations or paraphrasing from the primary source text or assigned readings are properly cited. Writing is grammatically sound and spelling is correct. Both required screenshots are included with appropriate caption and description.

Response: Poses a nuanced question or draws connections informed by careful observation and/or the readings. Clearly references assigned readings and/or primary source texts in the response when appropriate.