We are specialists in the design and development of datasets for humanities and social science research. This requires deep engagement with researchers and your research domain, and an understanding of the kinds of outputs that will enhance impact and usability.

A well-constructed database schema offers flexibility and scalability in a project’s ambitions and scope and ensures that all the materials captured in the research process are structured logically. This allows it to be searched effectively and intuitively by a range of audiences.

Databases and data access are usually integrated into a project’s website providing a distributed research platform which empowers collaborative effort across multiple sites and institutions.

 KDL will advise on, and develop the most appropriate data storage solution for your research. These options may include

  • Relational databases
  • Graph databases
  • XML files and Solr indexing

... or the best combination of these approaches. We enjoy working with data experts and people who just need their research data stored and displayed. Feel free to contact us whatever your needs.

Relational Databases

We develop our relational databases using PostgreSQL, which is in turn managed by the Django open source framework. We have found this combination of technologies to be scalable and versatile. We couple this approach with Apache Solr enabled search and indexing.

XML source files

We develop and support Kiln, an open source multi-platform framework for building and deploying complex websites whose source content is primarily in XML. It is designed specifically for digital humanities publishing, bringing together various independent software components into an integrated whole that provides the infrastructure and base functionality for such sites. Kiln is developed and maintained by a team at King's Digital Lab, who designed and developed it when they were working in the Department of Digital Humanities. Over the past years Kiln has been used to generate more than 50 websites which have very different source materials and customised functionality. It has been adapted to work on a variety of flavours of TEI and other XML vocabularies, and has been used to publish data held in relational databases. It is particularly well suited to scholarly digital editions, and projects that need to remain live for many years.

Kiln has the Apache Solr search engine bundled with it, and pipelines for basic indexing of TEI-encoded XML files are provided by default to give full-text search capability as quickly and easily as possible. KDL uses Solr extensively in its website work and we are always looking for new ways to exploit its capabilities to the full.

Research Data Management

King’s Digital Lab is conscious of the need to carefully manage research data, and collaborates with King’s Library to this end. We can advise you on Research Data Management (RDM) best practice, and put you in touch with appropriate Library teams to ensure you achieve your goals.