Let's Be FAIR: Forging Organisational Recommendations on Research Data in the Humanities
Natalie Harrower  1@  , Maciej Maryl  2@  , Eveline Wandl-Vogt  3@  
1 : Digital Repository of Ireland, Royal Irish Academy
2 : Digital Humanities Centre at the Institute of Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences
3 : Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities, Austrian Academy of Sciences

  • 1. Rationale

The principles of Open Science are currently debated in all areas of research. In particular, the FAIR principles are gaining ground: data must be constructed, stored, presented, and published in such a way that they can be retrieved, accessed to, reused, and made interoperable. While the implementation of these principles was first proposed in the life, natural and technological sciences, it is now clear that all that is relevant across all disciplines. The opening, communication, appropriation and reuse of research data, whatever it may be, is a common goal across research domains, but it requires a change in the understanding of data in the research lifecycle, as well as changes to research practice, and institutional research culture.

Humanities data can be rich and complex, non-standardised in format, without common or consistent metadata and ontologies, and can be subject to complex rights issues. Consensus and best practice regarding digitisation and metadata standards for common usage, that still retain the richness of different disciplines and data types, could enable open access to Humanities data, and facilitate data exchange and sharing between the wealth of archives, repositories and libraries across Europe.

The ALLEA e-humanities working group is conducting an open consultation to determine what tooks, workflows, training and resources are required by Humanities researchers. This workshop, organised in coordination with the DiMPO WG, will be focused on determining the role that research institutions need to play in the data sharing ecosystem. Participants are asked to contribute to the following questions: what do you require from your institution in order to create FAIR and open data? What resources are in place, and what are urgently required? Where can you draw on support (policy, workflows, tools, training, etc.) in order to move institutional practices forward? etc.

The outcomes of the workshop will be incorporated into the forthcoming ALLEA e-humanities WG guidelines for European Academies on institutional practices concerning FAIR open data.

A public consultation on these Recommendations was launched on 8 May 2019 to gather broad feedback from Humanities researchers and practitioners and research performing organisations in the field. The draft recommendations are open to all in suggestion mode at http://bit.ly/ALLEADH

2. Workshop format

Target audience: scholars, archivists and cultural heritage professionals in various humanities disciplines from the DARIAH-community who work with data or have an interest in data.

Technical support needed: projector, post-its, markers, whiteboard/flipchart, wireless internet

What participants can gain: shared knowledge of workflows and resources for better data sharing within their institution

Contribution to the DARIAH community: recommendations will be incorporated into both DARIAH DiMPO outputs, as well as the forthcoming recommendations to Humanities researchers being prepared by the ALLEA e-humanities working group

Participation requirements: We accept applicants on a first-come, first-served basis, although in case of a waiting list each project team will have the opportunity to be represented by only one team member.

Method: World café with questions addressing various institutional aspects of research data in the humanities. The workshop will build upon the versatile experience of Austrian Centre for Digital Humanities, covering such techniques as user stories, process collage, thermometers of indicators, dotmocracy or planning poker as well as canvases, adapted for this workshop by ACDH exploration space.

Tentative outline:

a. Brief introduction to the core concepts: FAIR principles; participatory knowledge creation, design thinking and problem crowdsourcing on the given case study; ALLEA eHumanities group related output

b. Core questions, relevant to the workshop topic, are identified through the participatory process. In a world café setting, participants divided into tables are discussing and presenting their outcomes

c. In the summary phase, the core challenges are identified and addressed in more detail if the timing allows. The challenges are discussed in a guided process in breakout groups.

3. Organisers

This workshop is jointly proposed by ALLEA e-humanities working group and DARIAH DiMPO WG.


About the ALLEA e-humanities WG

The European Academies constitute a unique pan-European knowledge base that is trusted, non-partisan and long-term. The Academies therefore have an important contribution to make to debates regarding sustained digital infrastructures and project-funded artefacts, the achievement of long-term durable digital preservation, and the societal responsibility for preservation of our digital cultural heritage. The E-Humanities Working Group is charged with identifying and raising awareness for priorities and concerns of the Digital Humanities, and contributing to the Open Access agenda from a Humanities and Social Sciences perspective, and building consensus for common standards and best practices in E-Humanities scholarship and digitisation. The Group's first publication, Going Digital: Creating Change in the Humanities, made recommendations around archival sustainability and data training required for achieving Open Access and Open Data goals across the Humanities. Going forward, the E-Humanities Working Group is focusing on the European Open Science and Open Research agendas, identifying growth opportunities for Humanities scholarship, as well as the contributions Humanities methodologies can make to truly opening research.


The DARIAH Digital Methods and Practices Observatory WG (DiMPO) aims to develop and provide an evidence-based, up-to-date, and pragmatically useful account of the emerging information practices, needs and attitudes of arts and humanities researchers in the evolving European digital scholarly environment, for the benefit of the digital humanities research community. It seeks to achieve this objective through the inception of a longitudinal mixed methods research and monitoring programme on the information practices and scholarly methods employed in digitally-enabled arts and humanities work across Europe, and through the digital dissemination, validation and enrichment of research outcomes by the scholarly community. Currently, the WG is conducting a series of qualitative case-studies, preceding the next iteration of its survey. Insights into scholarly practices and institutional obstacles regarding research data in the humanities will contribute to the group's mapping of the contemporary digital scholarship.


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