Introduction to Collaboration in Research Infrastructures

Introduction to Collaboration in Research Infrastructures
by Trinity College Dublin

By the end of this module, you should be able to….

  • Understand what is meant by collaboration in humanities research
  • Be aware of how this model impacts upon the development of digital humanities, and digital humanities research infrastructures

Is humanities research collaborative?  Some would say that with our traditions of independent research and single authorship, it is not.  This is not really true for any humanist, however, as collaboration does occur within classrooms, on-line communities, and within disciplinary networks.  For the digital humanities, this is even more the case, as the hybridity of our methods require us to work together.  Very few digital humanists can master entirely on their own the domain, information and software challenges their approach presents, and so we tend to work together.

We can easily apply a common definition of collaboration to DH: “coming together of diverse interests and people to achieve a common purpose via interactions, information sharing and coordination of activities” (Jassawalla and Sashittal, 1998, 51).   Management scientists have studied digital humanities collaboration, and uncovered a large number of interesting aspects to their work – see the ‘further reading’ section for some of these articles.

But what happens to this collaboration when we move to infrastructure scale?  Melissa Terras wrote in 2001 that: “DH must be collaborative, so also must DH infrastructure: But the range of interests encompassed by digital humanities is broad, covering resource development, specific research questions and methods, evaluation, policy, standards, teaching, and software development, among others.” 

This dense nexus of influences and concerns makes the collaboration all the more important, and all the more difficult.  The next two sections of this module will delve into two of the most important collaborative relationships in the digital humanities infrastructure context: between the humanist and the computer scientist, and between the virtual research infrastructure and the traditional knowledge infrastructures, namely the museums, libraries and archives.

Watch the video lecture here:

You can download the slides in this lecture from our SlideShare profile, or from the Training Resources section


  • Terras, Melissa. 2001. “Another Suitcase, Another Student Hall – Where Are We Going To? What ACH/ALLC 2001 Can Tell Us About the Current Direction of Humanities Computing.” Literary and Linguistic Computing, Vol. 16, No. 4, pp. 485-491
  • Jassawalla A.R. and H.C. Sashittal. 1998. “An examination of collaboration in high-technology new product development processes.” Journal of Product Innovation Management 15. pp. 237-254.
  • Antonijević, Smiljana. 2015. Amongst Digital Humanists. New York: Palgrave Macmillan US.
  • Edmond, Jennifer 2016. “Collaboration and Infrastructure.” A New Companion to Digital Humanities.  edited by Schreibman S, Siemens R and Unsworth J. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Siemens, Lynne, Richard Cunningham, Wendy Duff and Claire Warwick. 2011. “A tale of two cities: implications of the similarities and differences in collaborative approaches within the digital libraries and digital humanities communities” Literary and Linguistic Computing, Vol. 26, No. 3, 335-348.
  • Siemens, Lynne, and Elisabeth Burr. 2011. “A trip around the world: Accommodating geographical, linguistic and cultural diversity in academic research teams.” Literary and Linguistic Computing, Vol. 26, No. 3, pp. 335-448.
  • Siemens, Lynne. 2009. “‘It’s a team if you use ‘‘reply all”’’’: An exploration of research teams in digital humanities environments.” Literary and Linguistic Computing, Vol. 24, No. 2, pp. 225-233.

Your progress through the "Introduction to Collaboration in Research Infrastructures" module