Wrap Up & Materials from “e-Humanities and e-Heritage Research Infrastructures: Beyond tools”

Wrap Up & Materials from “e-Humanities and e-Heritage Research Infrastructures: Beyond tools”
by Ulrike Wuttke

Wrap Up & Materials of PARTHENOS eHumanities and eHeritage Webinar Series Webinar: eHumanities and eHeritage Infrastructures: Beyond Tools

written by Ulrike Wuttke, Stefan Schmunk, Steven Krauwer (20.03.2018)

Trainers: Steven Krauwer (Senior Advisor CLARIN, Utrecht, NL) and Dr Stefan Schmunk (State and University Library Göttingen, Germany), Moderator: Ulrike Wuttke (University of Applied Sciences Potsdam),
Date and Time: Thursday, 22.02.2018, 11:00 – 12:00 A.M. CET


Wrap Up

This PARTHENOS webinar was dedicated to the topic of the digital and infrastructural turn in the (Digital) Humanities and Cultural Heritage in general, especially focussing on opportunities and challenges of eHumanities and eHeritage infrastructures for researchers and other stakeholders (Read the full description of this webinar).

The webinar was well visited with around 50 participants from Croatia, UK, Greece, Hungary, Slovenia, Germany, Ireland, Spain, Sweden, Netherlands, and Austria.

Stefan and Steven had a very lively exchange and “walked” the participants through the past, present, and future of (digital) research infrastructures. They explained that research and science have changed in many ways during the last decades. Today we are for humanities and heritage studies at the beginning of data driven science, a paradigm change that is often described as Digital Turn and/or Digital Transformation. They encouraged the participants to “ride” this change like a wave, taking into account its possibilities and challenges.

Stefan and Steven started with a definition of research infrastructures and compared more static “analogue” infrastructures like buildings or libraries and “virtual” infrastructures, eg. the European ERICs (CESSDA, CLARIN, DARIAH, E-RIHS, ESS, SHARE), which are continuously evolving and expanding. To delve deeper into this topic you can consult the module Introduction to Research Infrastructures developed by PARTHENOS Training. To get to know the background of the participants better, the trainers then brought up a poll about the role of the participants related to research infrastructures. The participants identified themselves mainly as users (60,7%), but also as providers (33,2%), builders and operators (28,5%) and managers (25%) of research infrastructures.

Results Poll 2 Webinar Krauwer Schmunk

Results Poll 2: Your role in relationship to RIs?

After this, Stefan and Steven explained why there is a need for research infrastructures in the Humanities and Social Sciences on the national and European level. They provided concrete examples how especially domain specific research infrastructures (e.g. DARIAH and CLARIN) can assist research processes along the research life cycle in the Social Sciences, Arts, Humanities, and Cultural heritage and how they engage with different stakeholders. They also underlined the important role of research infrastructure in training and education, a role that is taken on centrally by PARTHENOS via PARTHENOS Training (WP7) led by Trinity College Dublin.

Stefan and Steven ended with the following take home messages:

  • DARIAH and Clarin are not the only RIs for SSH & CH, and you may also want to look at what other european SSH & CH Research Infrastructures (RIs) can do for you
  • SSH & CH RIs ( and sometimes even others) may overlap in some of their activities and may be complementary in others. Researchers should see this as a strong, continuous invitation to look over the fence and to cross discipline borders, as this is where innovation comes from.
  • Research infrastructures in SSH & CH are a joint venture of scholars, computer scientists, information experts and representatives of galleries, libraries, archives and museums, and need the impact of these communities.
  • There’s no question “either or”: RIs support researchers who work and research digitally, and at the same time there will be the use of classical methods and practices in the humanities… and that’s good! Form follows function!
  • Although Research infrastructures are tools for research projects, they are themselves subject of the research and therefore living organisms that can only be developed and operated through the active participation of the scientific community.

Summary of the Question & Answer Session

Question: Jeff mentioned that he is well-disposed to research infrastructures (e.g. DARIAH) and in his recent function as a librarian has the time to actively engage in Working Groups and the like. However as a researcher he had only had a vague knowledge of their existence, and still has yet to unlock quite how to engage individual researchers – often time is the biggest concern.

Stefan agreed that the engagement process concerning researchers is hard work. It is very important to establish contact points for questions, especially via training activities, classes, summer schools and to engage with the communities on the disciplinary level. This very individual process requires time and resources. Steven asked back to Jeff what in his view would be the best way for CLARIN or other research infrastructures to reach out for example to libraries or other communities besides linguists, in order to make people aware of what is existent and to establish more collaboration. He underlined that research infrastructures have many things in common and therefore should find ways to collaborate more in order to mutually benefit. Jeff agreed and added that it seems that one of the challenges is kind of sifting through what is out there to find something that matches your individual interest. He promised to come back to the trainers with ideas.

Question: Daniela mentioned as an opportunity for research infrastructures to create equality in access to research infrastructures and as challenge to maintain long term accessibility and facilitate access at international level in regions where digital RI are less used (outside EU).

Steven underlined in his answer the importance of access, in which digital infrastructure have actually an advantage (no travel costs, no capacity limit, always open). But more outreach is needed to explain what the possibilities are. He agreed that the long term perspective of digital infrastructures is not yet secured, the funders are still hesitant and prefer project based financing. Stefan adds that research infrastructures offer great opportunities for researchers to work together all across the world and also offer possibilities for engagement for non professional researchers who can use these infrastructures too. Coming back to Jeff’s question he added that research infrastructures are ideally a combined approach of many stakeholders: universities, libraries, archives, but also initiatives like the Open Knowledge Foundation or Wikipedia who have many different ways of dealing with data.

Image Credits:

Featured Image: “eHumanities and eHeritage Research Infrastructures: Beyond Tools”, Background picture CC0 PARTHENOS