Research Data in the Arts and Humanities – Requirements, Needs, and Perspectives of Research Data and Research Infrastructures in the Digital Humanities

Session, SciDataCon, Denver, 13.09.2016

Digital Humanities (DH) opens up new perspectives not only for computer scientists and “conventional” humanists e.g. from linguistics or literature studies but also for researchers from neighbouring fields, such as cultural heritage preservation, architecture, and the visual arts. By combining a multifaceted range of digital practices and applications, DH enables collaborative approaches between different disciplines, which are able to interact reciprocally as never before, thereby augmenting and transforming traditional methods and developing new approaches.

This directly results in researchers’ urgent need for a research infrastructure, which facilitates their teaching and research. While computing centers can easily supply technical resources like virtual machines, storage, hosting of databases and so on, there are further requirements such as easy access to digitized resources, methods and tools to analyze and interpret the information gathered, management of research data as well as data curation and long-term preservation of data in order to make it reusable – in short, the support for the entire research (data)-lifecycle. The European project, DARIAH, is designed to meet this demand in a reliable and sustainable way.

First of all, DARIAH is developing a repository for research data from the humanities, a progressive development of the TextGrid Repository, in which data can be saved or published so that it can be cited and preserved. Additionally, the national DARIAH-DE consortium in Germany is developing various collection-related components of the DARIAH infrastructure, such as the Collection Registry, the Schema Registry, and the Generic Search, and is integrating these components as services into the productive environment of DARIAH, so that researchers may use them in order to archive and retrieve data e.g. from our cultural heritage, build their own collections and make them accessible for others to use them. The combination of the collection-related components of the DARIAH-DE infrastructure represents the “Research Data Federation Architecture” for bibliographical metadata, digitized data e.g. images, full text, and collection descriptions of distributed sources at cultural heritage institutions, such as libraries, archives, research institutions, and data centers. One of our chief concerns is to look to internationalize the interaction we have with others in the field, and core to this is to establish greater formal liaison between the activities in the US and Europe.

In the session the perspectives of scholars, digital research infrastructure providers and libraries, their positive interrelations, the necessary conditions for effective digital humanities infrastructure, and the use of research data in the arts and humanities, will be presented in lightning talks (10 minutes + discussion) with ample room for questions from participants. The focus of the session and the discussion afterwards is an international comparison of digital humanities activities in Europe and the US, and to give both the panel and participants an unparalleled  opportunity to debate  the requirements and needs of scholars in the Digital Humanities in partnership. To make this possible the group of presenters comes from both the US and Europe.



  • Welcome and Introduction 
  • Digital Research Infrastructures for the Arts and Humanities: In and Beyond the Academy (Mike Mertens)
  • Libraries as Data-Centers for the Arts and Humanities (Wolfram Horstmann) 
  • DARIAH-DE - A service and tool oriented federation architecture for distributed data and collections (Stefan Schmunk) 
  • Towards sustainable Visual-Art Practice: Building Capacity for Improved Research Data Management in the UK Visual Art Sector (Laura Molloy)