Dear Anne, you have just defended your dissertation - this Tuesday, December 15 - and you are now a Doctor in Information and Communication. Can you tell us what it's like to finish your PhD in a time of global pandemic?
It's true that the context was special. In fact, I only met my thesis director once between March and December, all our other exchanges took place online. I was also lucky enough to be able to count on four people who were in charge of reviewing my dissertation: everything was done online, via a collaborative editing platform. They could simultaneously add comments to the final text, while being connected from Belgium, Switzerland or Reunion Island... It's really great, I think! As far as writing is concerned, the lockdown only reinforced the ascetic character typical of this period of solitary work. I hardly met anyone for several months, but at least I didn't have the impression that I had to give up all sorts of events, as everything was going slowly around me. The lockdown was both an additional constraint and an opportunity.
Finally, the defense also had to take place exclusively online. Beyond a few technical concerns to ensure that each member of the jury could be properly seen and heard, this was not very constraining. I certainly had to give up the traditional « pot de thèse », drinking to toast my successful dissertation defense with my family and friends, but, being from Switzerland, I was happy to be able to invite invite everyone I know without them having to travel!
What is your research subject and what is its interest for CegeSoma visitors?
As I had outlined in this midterm review of the ADOCHS project, I have been working on the issue of access to the collections, and more precisely on authority data concerning private individuals. Indeed, in the current context of the Web of data, private individuals constitute privileged channels of access to collections. They allow users to navigate from one document to another, beyond the walls of a single institution. As I have had the opportunity to experiment, it is indeed possible to query several sources of information simultaneously, but to do so, one must first create relationships between these entities. It is all this that I wanted to explore through my research, in particular by creating a database dedicated to CegeSoma's authority data.
Given that a large part of CegeSoma's visitors carry out research on their relatives, for example having been involved in resistance activities during the Second World War, it is very useful for them that the institution seeks to centralize research about individuals. It is also important to be able to enrich the research results with additional contextual information.
Do you plan to continue this work in the coming months?
Of course! The sustainability of the "Wikibase" knowledge base is a question that will be discussed in the coming months and doesn't just depend on me. It is a question of seeing how it fits into the practices and infrastructures of the State Archives, but what is certain is that the work undertaken on the issue of metadata quality will in any case be continued. As I detailed in a series of recommendations in the final chapter of my dissertation, it is possible to proceed in stages, it is not necessarily "all or nothing" operation.
And your dissertation, can we read it somewhere?
My dissertation entitled `La gestion des données d'autorité archivistiques dans le cadre du Web de données' (« The management of archival authority data in the context of the Web of data ») is available online on ULB's Digital Institutional Repository under the following link: https://difusion.ulb.ac.be/vufind/Record/ULB-DIPOT:oai:dipot.ulb.ac.be:2013/315804/Details
Thank you Anne and congratulations again!