The Digital Methods and Practices Observatory Working Group (DiMPO) received funding in 2017 for the project “Digital Humanities Work in Focus: multiple case studies of research projects across Europe”. This project aimed to provide a methodological foundation for research on how European researchers across disciplines and countries tap the potential of digital infrastructures and tools in their work.
The project mobilized DiMPO WG members across Europe to develop a methodology, protocol and learning materials for conducting qualitative research on multiple case studies of digital humanities research teams at work – in other words, for Digital Humanities meta-research – suitable to the increasingly cross-disciplinary, collaborative and virtual nature of humanities scholarship today. The project aimed to complement the quantitative survey conducted within DiMPO with support for qualitative case studies on digital scholarly practice, addressing aspects such as team roles and competencies, data representation and resource use, digital tools, methods for data collection, analysis and visualization, collaborative work, and publication.
Based on three workshop meetings involving eight DiMPO WG members from Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Lithuania, and Poland, the Digital Humanities Work in Focus succeeded in developing:
(a) An innovative multi-case study and qualitative interviewing protocol for Digital Humanities meta-research, based on a conceptual modelling-based methodological approach and integrating established qualitative research frameworks, which is amenable for adoption and practical implementation by research teams across disciplines and European countries.
(b) The protocol, and supporting information, rationale and guidance to researchers interested in conducting such research, is available in a dynamic “Guide on Digital Humanities Meta-Research”, openly available online, drawing from four different pilot studies by project participants, and providing guidance on research design, research ethics, data management, fieldwork and data collection, qualitative data analysis, writing-up and publication.
(c) The research rationale and approach developed within the project is further presented in “A Case Study Protocol for Meta-Research into Digital Practices in the Humanities”, a co-authored research paper submitted for publication to the Digital Humanities Quarterly peer-reviewed journal (awaiting peer review).
Further project outputs include:
(d) a co-authored poster on “Methodological Approaches to Studying Scholarly Knowledge Work in the Digital Environment”, presented at the 2018 DARIAH-EU Annual Meeting;
(e) three workshops on “Using Ontologies and Qualitative Data Analysis for DH Meta-Research” at the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences, Long Room Hub of Trinity College Dublin, and NTNU University Library at Trondheim; and,
(f) a roundtable session on “Scholarly Practices and DH Meta-Research Showcase” at the 2019 DARIAH-EU Annual Meeting. Project work concluded with approval to include a multi-case study DH meta-research activity, based on the methodology and research protocol developed in the project, as part of the 2019-20 DiMPO workplan.
In addition to the research grant received by DARIAH-EU, the multiple meetings and expanded activities in the project were supported in kind by the Digital Curation Unit, IMIS-Athena Research Centre, the Institute of Literary Research, Polish Academy of Sciences, the Long Room Hub, Trinity College Dublin, the NTNU University Library at Trondheim, and the NEP4DISSENT COST Action.
The protocol and guide were adopted as the framework for conducting multi-case qualitative research within the 2019-20 DiMPO workplan, but is also available and useful to other researchers interested in how humanists conduct digital work, both within and outside the DARIAH-EU community. In addition, the project succeeded in nurturing the establishment within DiMPO of a strong and coherent multi-disciplinary team of researchers coming from different European countries, who engaged in productive online and intensive face-to-face collaboration to develop a shared research protocol and to co-author textual outputs in a “live”, collaborative writeathon process. The impact of the project is in methodological innovation for DH meta-research, as well as in capacity building for qualitative research on digital humanities practice within DARIAH.
This post is part of the Working Groups Stories series presenting results and outcomes from the Working Group Funding Scheme 2017-2018.