Connecting with humanities researchers and considering challenges – HASS DEVL project update

Connecting with humanities researchers and considering challenges – HASS DEVL project update
March 28, 2018 Chris Button

The early part of 2018 has been a busy and productive time for the team working on the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Data Enhanced Virtual Laboratory (HASS DEVL). This federally-funded collaborative project aims to lower the barriers to entry for digital infrastructure to support humanities research, contribute to a more joined-up data landscape, increase interoperability between existing platforms and deliver skill-building opportunities for the HASS sector.

The team is very busy planning at this stage, with a large project kick-off meeting, development and tweaking of plans and communication mechanisms, but we have also started consultation and requirements gathering, and are in preparation for training and engagement events.

Updates from specific work packages are below:

Data Curation

Data curation elements of the HASS DEVL aim to tackle interoperability challenges, using datasets of high research value to establish and document data workflows and curation between platforms. The process, led out of AARNet, will develop data curation frameworks that make HASS data available for research interrogation and will explore better data linkage through named entity recognition and linked data techniques.

In this first period, the team has confirmed three reference datasets from the National Library of Australia, Australian Data Archive and the Prosecution Project, and are commencing the investigation of workflows. Frameworks for collecting researcher requirements and user stories are helping guide this work.

Workbench of Digital Tools

The HASS DEVL will produce a workbench of digital tools relevant to the HASS research community, with development led by the University of Melbourne’s Social and Cultural Informatics Platform. This team has commenced consultation with researchers around the three main tools to be included in the workbench. They have connected with researchers from a variety of universities and disciplines to discuss their needs in relation to text analysis and transcription, and a consultation on georeferencing for humanities data is scheduled during April.

Skills and Training:

A program of skill-building opportunities and training will complement the tools and workflows developed by the HASS DEVL, led by project members at eRSA and University of Melbourne’s Research Platform Services. We are gathering information as an important first stage of this package including a scan of the digital humanities training landscape, identifying existing resources to prevent duplication and examining methods of upskilling humanities, arts and social sciences researchers from around Australia and the world. Alongside this, the team is developing a framework for our DH Champions train the trainer program, helping collect a long list of potential participants, and exploring opportunities to participate in upcoming Research Bazaar events in Brisbane and Sydney.

Dr Steve McEachern, Australian Data Archive, discussing a model for identifying opportunities to accelerate research across the humanities and social sciences, Australian Academy of Humanities Data Summit (Photo: Ingrid Mason)

The HASS DEVL team has had a number of opportunities to speak about the project at relevant community events, including at VALA, eResearch New Zealand, ‘Ways of Seeing: Critical, Digital, Spatial’ Digital Humanities Symposium at the University of South Australia, and the Australasian eResearch Organisations Forum. Members of the project team and Steering Committee participated in the Australian Academy of Humanities Humanities, Arts and Culture Data Summit, an event which brought a great group together to discuss the future of research infrastructure support for the HASS sector, including open discussion around future platforms for HASS. Looking ahead, the HASS DEVL will be the subject of a roundtable discussion at the Australian Historical Association conference in July, and the team is contributing in a number of ways to Digital Humanities Australasia, to be held in Adelaide in October.

Throughout this, we continue to explore opportunities to connect with humanities researchers and their challenges, and build partnerships across the community.

Be sure to keep an eye out for upcoming Cultures and Communities newsletters for the latest updates.

Alexis Tindall,

Research Engagement Specialist.

Alexis Tindall

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