Information Services

Collections as data go live!

We are so excited to announce that the Theses Collection and the Scottish Statistical Accounts are now available as Collections as Data. This means that they can be downloaded as datasets and used for computational analysis.  


The Theses Collection contains all the digitised PhD theses held in the Edinburgh Research Archive, roughly 25,000 theses dating from the early 1600s to the present day. This collection gives insight into the history of the research happening at the university across the years, providing an extensive corpus for digital scholarship. 


The Old (or First) Statistical Account (1791 - 99), under the direction of Sir John Sinclair of Ulbster, and the New (or Second) Statistical Account (1834 - 45) are among the best contemporary reports of life during the agricultural and industrial revolutions in Europe. They offer uniquely rich and detailed parish reports for the whole of Scotland, covering a vast range of topics including agriculture, education, trades, religion and social customs. 


So many interesting research questions could be answered computationally by these collections, for example,

How has language at the university changed over the past 300 years?”; “How did professions in the Scottish population change between the first and second statistical accounts?. 

Opening the collections up to research in this way enables the research community to interrogate the data to answer questions we would never have even imagined! 


This work was done as part of a project in the Digital Library Programme, the vision of which is to improve discoverability and access to content and digital collections for learning, teaching and research. Further work is underway to be able to share all our open collections in this way. Having the University’s wonderful collections available for computationally-driven research and teaching under open licences allows us to expand the opportunities for engagement. 


- Ianthe Sutherland, Digital Library Development and Systems Manager