On October 1, 2013 at 11:59 the CLARIAH proposal for the "National Roadmap for Large-Scale Research Facilities" was submitted.
During the writing of the proposal, nearly all researchers from the humanities of the Netherlands were involved. Besides from the academic world, the proposal received much support from many knowledge and heritage institutions, and various SMB-companies. This collaboration between many parties is in itself unique. After an intensive process of writing, correcting, editing, gathering support for the proposal, we have to wait on the final judgement from the international and national referees.
The important dates were:
|1 Oct 2013||Submission Deadline|
|Oct-Dec 2013||Consultation of referents
|Jan 2014||First Meeting committee|
|Mar/Apr 2014||Site visits
Second Meeting Committee
|Begin May 2014||Committee Recommendation to NWO AB|
|End May 2014||NWO AB Decision|
In layman’s terms
The availability of massive quantities of digital sources (textual, audio-visual and structured data) for research is revolutionizing the humanities. Top-quality humanities scholarship of today and tomorrow is therefore only possible with the use of sophisticated ICT tools. CLARIAH aims to offer humanities scholars a ‘Common Lab’ that provides them access to large collections of digital resources and innovative user-friendly processing tools, thus enabling them to carry out ground-breaking research to discover the nature of human culture.
Humanities, infrastructure, language studies, media studies, socio-economic history
Common Lab Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities
Rising globalization and internationalization go hand in hand with an increased concern for local, regional or national identities, dialects/languages and cultures. This vexing polarization inspired the European Commission to articulate the problem of how local/regional/national cultures and identities developed in the past, operate in the present, and affect the future as one of the most important challenges to be addressed in Horizon2020.
Addressing this problem requires an investigation of the structure, evolution and interaction of language, culture, and society, in short: What is the nature of human culture?
Information on how culture and cultural identities evolved in the past is “hidden” in enormous amounts of unstructured data, such as texts written and printed over a period of more than 20 centuries, artefacts created over an even longer period, and audio-visual documents produced since the last quarter of the 19th century. In addition to these unstructured data, we have (semi-)structured data, partly structured-born (such as vital records) partly made structured by the labour of generations of researchers in the humanities and social sciences.
Until recently, research addressing questions about culture and identity depended on experts’ abilities to identify potentially relevant pieces of information in archives, libraries and museums. Because such research was extremely time consuming, it was hardly possible to look at all data or test alternative analyses.
Digital data are accessible to a large number of researchers, and digital tools will enable them to verify data selections and interpretations of other researchers. Researchers’ use of these tools (the ‘Digital Turn’) will make it possible to address, and to at least partly answer, some of the challenges posed by Horizon2020. Comparative analysis of texts and images covering a certain topic over time — even centuries — will show how opinions gradually evolved and whether they developed differently in distinctive regions, social strata, or religions. Perhaps equally important, the fact that data selections and interpretations will be grounded in a solid empirical basis, which can be verified by other researchers, will make research outcomes more valuable both for policy development and for future scholarly endeavours.
In order to profit from the potential offered by the Digital Turn, the following problems must be tackled:
- there is no integrated approach for the humanities in dealing with digital data and tools;
- existing data sets are not connected and tools often apply to idiosyncratic formats only;
- there is lack of training of researchers and students in using digital methods to analyse large data sets.
The humanities researchers in the Netherlands are leading partners in the European infrastructure programmes CLARIN and DARIAH. In order to maintain and extend this leading position, they now join forces in the Common Lab Research Infrastructure for the Arts and Humanities (CLARIAH) to offer a solution to these problems: an infrastructure (called the Common Lab) that provides researchers and research groups with integrated access to unprecedented collections of seamlessly interoperating digital research resources and innovative tools to process them in virtual workspaces, thus enabling data intensive science in the humanities. The Common Lab will provide researchers with intelligent access methods for exploring resources and innovative ways of combining different resources into virtual collections. In this way information that is hidden in unstructured textual and multimedia documents can be disclosed and analysed in combination with structured databases.
The Common Lab will be easy to access and use for researchers with a limited technical training. It will have an open structure that allows for the future addition of new data sets and tools (Open Access whenever possible). Dissemination activities, educational programs and training sessions will enable researchers and students to acquaint themselves with new research methodologies. Companies and public organisations, esp. in the top sector Creative Industry and in the cross-sectoral ICT Roadmap, support the Common Lab, because it addresses problems they are also facing. An intensive outreach programme will help create opportunities for developing applications and services relevant for society or commerce.
As a consequence of the leading position of the Netherlands in these international developments, the Common Lab will attract top-researchers and students from abroad.
The CLARIAH proposal was submitted by a core team (the main applicants that wrote a Letter of Intent) and supported by a very large number of universities, research institutions, heritage institutions, public institutions and Dutch SMB-companies who all wrote a Letter of Support which states why they support the proposal. Here below the list of all involved.
|Core team||Huygens Institute, Free University, International Institute of Social History, Meertens Institute, Netherlands Institute of Sound and Vision,Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Radboud University Nijmegen, Utrecht University, University of Amsterdam.|
|Top Sectors||Top Sector Creative Industry, Roadmap ICT|
|Research infrastructures||CLARIN ERIC, DARIAH-EU|
|Research organisations||DANS, Dutch Language Union (DLU), eHumanities Group (eHg), Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR), Fryske Akademy (FA), Groningen Institute of Archaeology (GIA), Groningen University (RUG), ICON UU, Institute for Dutch Lexicology (INL), KITLV, Leiden University Centre for the Arts in Society (LUCAS), Maastricht University (MU), Meertens Institute, Netherlands eScience Center, Netherlands Graduate School of Linguistics (LOT), Netherlands Research School of Science, Technology and Modern Culture (WMTC), NIAS, NIOD, Posthumus Institute, RU Centre for Language Studies, RU Institute for Historical, Literature and Cultural Studies, SURFsara, Tilburg University Big Data Lab, Tilburg University School of Humanities, Twente University CTIT (TU), Utrecht Institute of Linguistics (UiL-OTS), Utrecht University Library (UBU), VU/Leiden/Delft/Erasmus: CGHD, SPINlab, CLUE.|
|Public organisations||Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE), Digital Heritage Netherlands (DEN), Netherlands Institute for Art History (RKD), National Library (KB), Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision (NISV), Tweede Kamer der Staten Generaal BIP, Tweede Kamer der Staten Generaal DIV|
|Private companies||Frontwise, Gridline, IBM, iMmovator, Knowledge Concepts, Notas, Noterik, Picturae, Readspeaker, Seecr, Spinque, Target Holding, Teezir, Telecats, Thaesis.|