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Collecting data for the database: Research methods

Data on the learned academies is not codified in simple or unified information sources. Books published by Academies and/or by individual members do not always indicate the association with the academy. Library catalogues do not systematically record the involvement of an Academy in the production of a book, even where that information is apparent from the bibliographical details. Academies varied widely in the extent to which they maintained and published lists of members and records of activities.

Consequently considerable research is required in order to identify data relating to the academies. This is sought by interrogating a wide range of primary and secondary sources. These include library catalogues; bibliographical reference works, such as Short Title Catalogues; relevant critical studies on the academies; manuscript and archive documents in the UK and Italy; printers’ records; texts, paratexts and other items including illustrations relating to Academies. The creation of the database has underlines the importance of these types of research tools, for example in the identification of Academy members, printers and engravers and of previously unrecorded Academies. These methods require a considerable input of time and expertise.

Critical methodology

In addition to drawing on the existing and developing scope of the Themed Collection database, research for the creation of the database and the related project objectives listed have been addressed using relevant critical resources and methods including literary criticism and close textual reading, book history techniques including bibliographical analysis, printing and book design, studies in theatre and the performing arts, historiography, political theory and censorship; and on-line resources such as EDIT16, Mar.T.E and library catalogues. In all cases significant use has been made of primary sources including archives to extend the analysis of particular academies and centres.

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