Computational Platforms for Scholarly Research

The Forum for Digital Culture supports the digital projects and publications of faculty and students using computational research platforms that were designed by scholars and are tailored for their needs.

The Forum for Digital Culture makes use of two complementary computational platforms to support the digital research of faculty and students: a multimedia, multi-ontology database system called the Online Cultural and Historical Research Environment (OCHRE) and a full-text search, retrieval, and analysis system called PhiloLogic.

The OCHRE and PhiloLogic platforms were designed by scholars at the University of Chicago and have undergone many years of development and testing. Each platform has been professionally engineered to achieve economies of scale by means of a single, well-maintained code base while meeting the needs of a large number of diverse projects. Each platform is hosted on servers managed by the University of Chicago Library, which provides system administration, data security, and multi-generation data back-up.

The OCHRE Database Platform

The Online Cultural and Historical Research Environment (OCHRE) is a tightly integrated suite of computational tools for working with data of all kinds through all stages of a research project. It provides a seamless environment within which it is easy to move from one stage to the next.

OCHRE has been in operation continuously for more than 20 years and is currently used by more than 100 projects in the humanities and social sciences, and also in some natural sciences. It has 10 million indexed database items representing more than 100 terabytes of data, with room for much more. It is a scalable and sustainable platform for research maintained by the staff of the Forum for Digital Culture in conjunction with the University of Chicago Library.

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The OCHRE Data Service and the Online Publication Service

The OCHRE Data Service is the unit within the Forum for Digital Culture that supports the use of the OCHRE platform by University of Chicago research projects and many other projects worldwide. The Forum’s Online Publication Service for scholarly data publication (currently under development) runs on the OCHRE platform with support from the OCHRE Data Service.

To arrange a consultation about using OCHRE, please send email to Sandra Schloen, Director of Technology of the Forum for Digital Culture and lead developer of the platform, at

For information about the Online Publication Service, send email to Miller Prosser, Director of Online Publications, at

The PhiloLogic Full-Text Platform

PhiloLogic is an open-source full-text search, retrieval, and analysis system developed by the Project for American and French Research on the Treasury of the French Language (ARTFL) at the University of Chicago. Designed to handle TEI-XML corpora of any size, it was built to support the fundamental needs of humanities and social science text researchers through a variety of search, navigation, and reporting features. Standard reporting and sorting options include sortable keyword-in-context reports; relative frequencies by authors, titles, and periods; collocation tables; and more.

PhiloLogic’s adaptability and reliability have led to its adoption by other prestigious institutions, including the Voltaire Foundation at the University of Oxford, the Stanford Library, and the Obtic Lab at the University of Paris-Sorbonne. The ARTFL Project, along with the Textual Optics Lab, offers a wide variety of corpora via PhiloLogic, such as ARTFL-Frantext, the Chinese histories, the Aozora Bunko corpus of Japanese literature, and the EEBO and ECCO-TCP collections. The ARTFL Project is continually adding new corpora and welcomes collaboration with researchers interested in developing new text collections to be hosted under PhiloLogic.

For more information, see the PhiloLogic website or send email to Clovis Gladstone, Associate Director of the ARTFL Project and lead developer of PhiloLogic, at

Other Software Tools

The staff of the Forum for Digital Culture have expertise in a wide range of commercial and open-source tools that are useful for research in the humanities and social sciences. They provide training as needed to help project teams install and use these tools and they teach tutorials on them for students in the Digital Studies program. These tools include:

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