Melissa Terras is the Professor of Digital Cultural Heritage at the University of Edinburgh‘s Design Informatics, in Edinburgh College of Art, which she joined in October 2017, leading digital aspects of research within CAHSS at Edinburgh. She is the Founding Director of the Edinburgh Centre for Data, Culture & Society, and was Director of Research (2018-23) in the new Edinburgh Futures Institute . She is Co-Director of Creative Informatics: the £10m AHRC and Industrial Strategy investment into data driven innovation for the creative industries within Edinburgh (2019-2024), and is a founder and Scholarly Director of Transkribus, the award-winning Handwritten Text Recognition infrastructure for historical documents.
With a background in Classical Art History and English Literature (MA, University of Glasgow), and Computing Science (MSc IT with distinction in Software and Systems, University of Glasgow), her doctorate (Engineering, University of Oxford) examined how to use advanced information engineering technologies to interpret and read Roman texts. She is an Honorary Professor of Digital Humanities in UCL Department of Information Studies, where she was employed from 2003-2017, Honorary Professor in UCL Centre for Digital Humanities, which she directed 2012-2017, and previously Vice Dean of Research in UCL’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities (2014-2017).
Books include “Image to Interpretation: An Intelligent System to Aid Historians in Reading the Vindolanda Texts” (2006, Oxford University Press) and “Digital Images for the Information Professional” (2008, Ashgate). She has co-edited various volumes including: “Changing the Centre of Gravity: Transforming Classical Studies Through Cyberinfrastructure” (Gorgias Press 2010);“Digital Humanities in Practice” (Facet 2012); “Digitizing Medieval and Early Modern Material Culture” (Iter 2012); “Defining Digital Humanities: A Reader” (Ashgate 2013) which has been translated into an open access Russian Edition (Siberian Federal University Press 2017) and an open access Chinese Edition (Nanjing University Press 2022); and “Electronic Legal Deposit: Shaping the Library Collections in the Future” (Facet 2020). Her monograph on the representation of academics in children’s literature was published by Cambridge University Press in 2018 and is available in open access: Picture-Book Professors: Academia and Children’s Literature. Its sibling volume, The Professor in Children’s Literature: An Anthology, was simultaneously published in open access by Fincham Press. In 2022, she published the edited volume “Millicent Garrett Fawcett: Selected Writings” in open access with UCL Press.
Her research focuses on the use of computational techniques to enable research in the arts and humanities that would otherwise be impossible, and she has worked on a range of project and initiatives including Transkribus, Crosscult, Oceanic Exchanges, and Digital Library Futures. Previous research projects include and Deep Imaging Mummy Cases, Non-Destructive Analysis of Multi-Layered Papyrus, QRator, Transcribe Bentham, The Great Parchment Book , The Slade Archive Project, Textal, Log Analysis of Internet Resources in the Arts and Humanities, Virtual Environments for Research in Archaeology, eScience and Ancient Documents, and Researching eScience Analysis of Census Holdings. Terras was the Co-Investigator of the The EPSRC funded Centre for Doctoral Training in Science and Engineering in Arts, Heritage and Archaeology (SEAHA) during its set up period. Terras is Founding General Editor of Digital Humanities Quarterly, and on the editorial board of the Journal of Digital Scholarship in the Humanities.
Terras has a UK Government appointment as Expert Advisor on the the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) College of Experts (2022-5). She served on the Board of Curators of the University of Oxford Libraries (2013-2019) and had a Scottish Government Appointment on the Board of Trustees of the National Library of Scotland (2014-22). Terras sits on a number of Advisory boards including The British Library Labs, the Scientific Consultative Group of The National Gallery, the Collections and Research Group of the Science Museum Group, and The Imperial War Museums‘ Operation War Diary. Terras is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, a Chartered IT Professional and Fellow of the British Computer Society, a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, and is a Turing Institute Fellow (2018-2023).
Terras was program chair of the major international conference Digital Humanities 2014, in Lausanne, Switzerland, vice-chair of DH2013 in Lincoln, Nebraska, and outgoing chair of DH2015 in Sydney, Australia. She served as Secretary of the Association of Literary and Linguistic Computing (now the European Association of Digital Humanities) (2008-2011) and as a Steering committee member of the Alliance of Digital Humanities Organizations (2009-2012).
You can generally find her on twitter, at @melissaterras.
Selected Publications include (for a complete bibliography, see her Edinburgh page):
Terras, M. (2022). “Digital humanities and digitised cultural heritage”. In J. O’Sullivan (Ed.), The Bloomsbury Handbook to the Digital Humanities (1 ed., pp. 255-266). (Bloomsbury Handbooks). Bloomsbury Academic. https://doi.org/10.5040/9781350232143.ch-24
Nockels, J., Gooding, P., Ames, S., & Terras, M. (2022). “Understanding the application of handwritten text recognition technology in heritage contexts: A systematic review of Transkribus in published research”. Archival Science, 22(3), 367-392. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10502-022-09397-0
Estill, L., Guiliano, J., Ortega, É., Terras, M., Verhoeven, D., & Layne-Worthey, G. (2022). “The circus we deserve? A front row look at the organization of the annual academic conference for the Digital Humanities”. Digital Humanities Quarterly, 16(4). http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/16/4/000643/000643.html
Terras, M. (2022). “Inviting AI into the archives: The reception of handwritten recognition technology into historical manuscript transcription”. In L. Jaillant (Ed.), Archives, Access and AI: Working with Born-Digital and Digitised Archival Collections (pp. 179-204). (Digital Humanities Research; Vol. 2). Transcript Verlag. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783839455845-008
Terras, M. (2022). The role of the library when computers can read: Critically adopting Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR) technologies to support research. In A. Wheatley, & S. Hervieux (Eds.), The Rise of AI: Implications and Applications of Artificial Intelligence in Academic Libraries (pp. 137-148). ACRL – Association of College & Research Libraries. [PDF]
Piccio, B., Helgason, I., Elsden, C., & Terras, M. (2022). “A hefty dose of lemons: The importance of rituals for audiences and performers at the online Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2020”. International Journal of Performance Arts and Digital Media, 18(1), 154-175. https://doi.org/10.1080/14794713.2022.2036489
Havens, L., Bach, B., Terras, M., & Alex, B. (2022). “Beyond explanation: A case for exploratory text visualizations of nonaggregated, annotated datasets”. Paper presented at Perspectivist Approaches to Disagreement in NLP at LREC 2022, Marseille, France. http://www.lrec-conf.org/proceedings/lrec2022/workshops/NLPerspectives/2022.nlperspectives-1.0.pdf
O’Neill, H., Welsh, A., Smith, D. A., Roe, G., & Terras, M. (2021). “Text mining Mill: Computationally detecting influence in the writings of John Stuart Mill from library records”. Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, 36(4), 1013 – 1029. https://doi.org/10.1093/llc/fqab010
Terras, M., Coleman, S., Drost, S., Elsden, C., Helgason, I., Lechelt, S., Osborne, N., Paneels, I., Pegado, B., Schafer, B., Smyth, M., Thornton, P., & Speed, C. (2021). “The value of mass-digitised cultural heritage content in creative contexts”. Big Data and Society, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1177/20539517211006165
Havens, L., Terras, M., Bach, B., & Alex, B. (2020). “Situated Data, Situated Systems: A Methodology to Engage with Power Relations in Natural Language Processing Research”. Paper presented at 2nd Workshop on Gender Bias in Natural Language Processing at COLING 2020. [PDF]
Jones, C., Terras, M., Duffy, C., & Gibson, A. (2020). Understanding multispectral imaging of cultural heritage: Determining best practice in MSI analysis of historical artefacts. Journal of Cultural Heritage. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.culher.2020.03.004
Hauswedell, T., Nyhan, J., Terras, M., Beals, M., & Bell, E. (2020). Of global reach yet of situated contexts: An examination of the implicit and explicit selection criteria that shape digital archives of historical newspapers. Archival Science, 20(2), 139-165. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10502-020-09332-1
McGillivray, B., Alex, B., Ames, S., Armstrong, G., Beavan, D., Ciula, A., Colavizza, G., Cummings, J., David, D. R., Farquhar, A., Hengchen, S., Lang, A., Loxley, J., Goudarouli, E., Nanni, F., Nini, A., Nyhan, J., Osborne, N., Poibeau, T., Terras, M., Willcox, P. (2020). “The challenges and prospects of the intersection of humanities and data science: A White Paper from The Alan Turing Institute”. (pp. 1). The Alan Turing Institute. https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.12732164.v5
Martinez, M. and Terras, M. (2019). ‘Not Adopted’ : The UK Orphan Works Licensing Scheme and how the crisis of copyright in the cultural heritage sector restricts access to digital content In: Open Library of the Humanities , vol. 5, no. 1
Gooding, P., Terras, Berube, L. (2019). Towards User-Centric Evaluation of UK Non-Print Legal Deposit : A Digital Library Futures White Paper White Paper, Digital Library Futures Project.
Franzini, G., Mahoney, S., Terras, M. (2019). Digital editions of text : Surveying user requirements in the Digital Humanities In: ACM Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage (JOCCH), vol. 12, no. 1
Terras, M., Baker, J., Hetherington, J., Beavan, D., Zaltz Austwick, M., Welsh, A., O’Neill, H., Finley, W., Duke-Williams, O. and Farquhar, A., (2017). “Enabling complex analysis of large-scale digital collections: humanities research, high-performance computing, and transforming access to British Library digital collections”. Digital Scholarship in the Humanities.https://doi.org/10.1093/llc/fqx020
Attu, R., Attu, R., Terras, M. and Terras, M., (2017). “What people study when they study Tumblr: Classifying Tumblr-related academic research”. Journal of Documentation, 73(3), pp.528-554. PDF
Pal, K., Avery, N., Boston, P., Campagnolo, A., De Stefani, C., Matheson-Pollock, H., Panozzo, D., Payne, M., Schüller, C., Sanderson, C., Scott, C., Smith, P., Smither, R., Sorkine-Hornung, O., Stewart, A., Stewart, E., Stewart, P., Terras, M., Walsh, B., Ward, L., Yamada, L., Weyrich, T. (2016). “Digitally reconstructing the Great Parchment Book: 3D recovery of fire-damaged historical documents” Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, Oxford University Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ndt/fqw057. Online.
Terras, M. (2016). “Crowdsourcing in the Digital Humanities”. In Schreibman, S., Siemens, R., and Unsworth, J. (eds), (2016) “A New Companion to Digital
Humanities”, (p. 420 – 439). Wiley-Blackwell. http://eu.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1118680596.html. PDF.
Gooding, P. and Terras, M. (2016). “Inheriting library cards to Babel and Alexandria: contemporary metaphors for the digital library”. International Journal on Digital Libraries. doi:10.1007/s00799-016-0194-2. Online.
Terras, M. (2016). “A Decade in Digital Humanities: text of Inaugural Lecture”. Journal of Siberian Federal University, the special issue on Digital Humanities. Vol. 9, Issue 7. PDF
Ross, C., Gray, S., Warwick, C., Hudson Smith, A., Terras, M. (2016). “Engaging the Museum Space: Mobilising Visitor Engagement with Digital Content Creation”. Journal of Digital Scholarship in the Humanities. Online .
Terras, M. (2015). “”Opening Access to collections: the making and using of open digitised cultural content”, Online Information Review, Vol. 39 Iss: 5, pp.733 – 752. http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/full/10.1108/OIR-06-2015-0193. PDF.
Giacometti, A., Campagnolo, A., MacDonald, L., Mahony, S., Robson, S., Weyrich, T., Terras, M., Gibson, A. (2015). “The value of critical destruction: Evaluating multispectral image processing methods for the analysis of primary historical texts”. Journal of Digital Scholarship in the Humanities, Oxford University Press. http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/llc/fqv036 Online.
Causer, T. and Terras, M. (2014). ““Many hands make light work. Many hands together make merry work”: Transcribe Bentham and crowdsourcing manuscript collections”. In Ridge, M. (2014). “Crowdsourcing our Cultural Heritage”. Ashgate. PDF.
Causer, T. and Terras, M. (2014) “Crowdsourcing Bentham: beyond the traditional boundaries of academic history”. International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing, 8 (1). PDF.
Gooding, P., Terras, M. and Warwick, C. (2013). “The Myth of the New: Mass Digitization, Distant Reading, and the Future of the Book” Lit Linguist Computing (2013) 28 (4): 629-639. PDF.
Terras, M. (2012). “The impact of social media on the dissemination of research: results of an experiment”. Journal of Digital Humanities, September 2012. Online.
Terras, M. (2011). “Present, Not Voting: Digital Humanities in the Panopticon. Closing Plenary Speech, Digital Humanities 2010”. Literary and
Linguistic Computing, 26 (3) 257 – 269 PDF.
Terras, M. (2011). “Artefacts and Errors: Acknowledging Issues of Representation in the Digital Imaging of Ancient Texts.” In Vogeler, G. et al (Eds). Codicology and Papyrology in the Digital Age, II. Institut für Dokumentologie und Editorik. (Vol. Band 3, pp. 43-61). Norderstedt, Germany: Books on Demand. Retrieved from http://www.i-d-e.de/schriften-2/bd-3-kpdz2 PDF.
Terras, M. (2011). “The Digital Wunderkammer: Flickr as a Platform for Amateur Cultural and Heritage Content”. Library Trends, Special Issue: Involving Users in the Co-Construction of Digital Knowledge in Libraries, Archives, and Museums. Eds Paul Marty and Michelle Kazmer. 59.4, pp. 686 – 706. Online.
Ross, C. Terras, M. Warwick, C. and Welsh, A. (2011). “Enabled Backchannel: Conference Twitter Use by Digital Humanists. Journal of Documentation. Vol. 67 Iss: 2, pp.214 – 237. http://www.emeraldinsight.com/journals.htm?articleid=1911710&show=abstract PDF.
Terras, M. (2009). “Digital Curiosities: Resource Creation Via Amateur Digitisation”. Literary and Linguistic Computing. 25 (4) 425 – 438. PDF.
Terras, M. (2009) “Potentials and Problems in Applying High Performance Computing for Research in the Arts and Humanities: Researching e-Science Analysis of Census Holdings”. Digital Humanities Quarterly. http://www.digitalhumanities.org/dhq/vol/3/4/000070/000070.html Fall 2009. PDF.