We warmly welcome a new Working Group in DARIAH on Research Data Management. Chaired by our Open Science Officer Erzsébet Tóth-Czifra (DARIAH Coordination Office) and Marta Błaszczyńska (Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences), the Working Group aims to tackle such challenges and will support DARIAH to fulfill its mission of facilitating access to data, and supporting the work of our communities with best practices and methods in this relatively new area of academic life.
In order to better understand the aims and activities of this new Working Group, we asked Erzsébet and Marta to briefly introduce the topic, their planned activities and next steps. Here is what they had to say:
Why did you decide to create a Working Group on this topic in the context of DARIAH?
The idea came from many angles. On the one hand, we see a natural shift in scholarly practices across the arts and humanities. Our research is becoming increasingly data-driven (accommodating all the complexities the term data means in these contexts) and this brings forth new components of scholarly workflows to be discussed among and across the disciplinary communities. What types of data? Where does it come from? How is it collected, analyzed, processed and shared? What are the challenges in making it reusable? In which language(s)? Which standards to apply? How best to store, manage and organize such data and how well are our infrastructural needs served in this respect? These questions and all the epistemic or conceptual twists they entail are still relatively new to many scholarly communities in the arts and humanities.
On the other hand, there is also a recognizable political drive in the European Union to facilitate free and public access to research data hosted at publicly funded institutions. It is clear that we need to make it easier for our communities to comply with such policies, in ways that make sense in their respective research contexts.
That said, the focus of the WG will be on such everyday issues that specifically affect the working conditions of arts and humanities scholars. We are leveraging on the disciplinary and thematic richness of communities around DARIAH and offering a unique space for collaboration among representatives of all major arts and humanities disciplines, cultural heritage professionals and data management experts. To keep research workflows in the centre, our aim is to work with champions from all major disciplines in the arts and humanities domain and to ensure that our advocacy work is deeply anchored in disciplinary realities.
Can you describe the role and aims of the Research Data Management Working Group?
The Working Group has a clear domain-specific focus on data management practices in the humanities research realities. We will sustain a dialogue with the DARIAH communities about research data management to strengthen our community practices and will showcase how different disciplinary communities can take advantage of open scholarly infrastructure and tools that are available for the DARIAH communities. We will produce training and advocacy materials that show sensitivity to research practices and data support needs in the arts and humanities. It is hard to find a better environment for this initiative than the DARIAH community. DARIAH is a unique meeting point for scholars, GLAM professionals and data practitioners who represent a wide range of disciplines, research interests, geographical and cultural backgrounds.
To avoid reinventing the wheel, we also find it important to synchronize our efforts not only with the other DARIAH WGs but also with the already existing resources and projects aimed at RDM training and education such as the RDA, ALLEA, FAIRsFAIR and others. This is ensured through the WG members who are also involved in the work of existing RDM players (e.g. René van Horik’s, Péter Király’s and Ulrike Wuttke’s involvement at RDA, Erzsébet’s involvement in FOSTER and the OpenAire Training community, FAIRsFAIR etc.)
What are the Working Group’s plans for the future?
Now that the organizational setup is done and our communication channels (Twitter, mailing list, monthly calls etc) are up and running, finally we can focus more on content issues. The four main task forces we set to ourselves are:
- Building and maintaining a knowledge base of data management best practices in the humanities
- Providing concise, discipline-or data type-focussed case studies that are adapted to the specific methods, scale, and interests of the disciplinary communities
- Facilitating access to Cultural Heritage data, supporting the exchange between the GLAM sector and scholars under the aegis of the Heritage Data Reuse Charter
- Building a brokering hub for experts who have data management roles nationally.
- Design joint project to undertake with other DARIAH WGs
As a first step to this latter, we successfully applied to co-organize a synergy session at the DARIAH Annual Event with the Geohumanities WG to jointly explore sustainability, interoperability, planning, legal compliance, standardisation, data sharing and other issues emerging from the study of place and space. The current situation gives us a bit of extra time to prepare this session. Our first face-to-face meeting is also postponed to November.
In the meantime, we meet at our regular monthly calls. In addition to using these opportunities to discuss the next practical steps and nurture a brokering hub in humanities data management, we also explore ways to learn from each other. For instance, in March, our WG member Péter Király gave us a very inspiring presentation about the SSHOC Dataverse and its offerings to arts and humanities researchers.
Clearly, one of the success criteria of the WG would be to go beyond the usual suspects (professionals who already have an interest in research data management or data management support) and welcome new members (not only DHers) from across the whole spectrum of arts and humanities.
We warmly welcome the Research Data Management Working Group in DARIAH and look forward to fruitful collaborations!