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Benardou, A., Charles, V., Chatzidiakou, N., Constantopoulos, P., Dallas, C., González Sáez, A., Gordea, S., Hughes, L., Karavellas, T., Marcus, G., Papachristopoulos, L., Pertsas, V. (2016). Scholarly Research Activities and Digital Tools: When NeMO met FLOSS. In Digital Humanities 2016: Conference Abstracts. Jagiellonian University & Pedagogical University, Kraków, pp. 740-741.
Scholarly Research Activities and Digital Tools: When NeMO met FLOSS

Scholarly Research Activities and Digital Tools: When NeMO met FLOSS

While there has been a significant investment in the development of digital tools that can be used in the humanities, information about their use is frequently located in disciplinary silos, with little transfer of knowledge about the features of specific tools that make them valuable for research across the humanities. This poster shows the collaboration between two initiatives, the NeDiMAH Methods Ontology (NeMO) and the EuropeanaTech FLOSS Inventory Task Force. The aim was to carry out research in order to align the FLOSS Inventory against the Activity Types in NeMO, the Ontology of Digital Methods for the Humanities developed by the Digital Curation Unit (DCU), IMIS-ATHENA R.C with the ESF Network for Digital Methods in the Arts and Humanities (NeDiMAH).

The FLOSS Inventory is an effort undertaken by the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision and EuropeanaTech to raise awareness of, share access to, and improve the overall status of Open Source software available for cultural heritage developers internationally. The Inventory contains over 200 well-documented, active and relevant OS tools and is actively updated and maintained.

NeMO provides a conceptual framework for representing scholarly practice in the Humanities. This is the main output of NeDiMAH, a Network that ran from 2011- 15 and brought into collaboration 16 countries to document the practice of Digital Humanities across Europe in a series of Methodological Working Groups. Building on earlier expertise in digital taxonomies for the digital humanities, NeDiMAH facilitated a research project carried out by DCU, building upon earlier work on scholarly activity modeling in projects including DARIAH, EHRI and Europeana Cloud. NeMO is a formal ontology which enables the representation and codification of scholarly work by providing a controlled vocabulary of interrelated concepts. NeMO offers a flexible tagging system through a taxonomy of Activity Types, structured in five hierarchies that correspond roughly to scholarly primitives (Unsworth, 2000), and incorporates existing taxonomies and related work such as TadiRAH, Oxford ICT, and DH Commons.

The research teams working on FLOSS and NeMO collaborated to map each tool in the FLOSS inventory against NeMO Activity Types. According to the structure established by NeMO, scholarly research practices are divided into five core Activity Types within a scholarly research lifecycle: acquiring, communicating, conceiving, processing and seeking, which encompass narrower terms accounting for further detail and specialization. This study allows the integration of the information about tools gathered by FLOSS into a uniform conceptual framework for expressing knowledge about scholarly work. By doing so, it also validates the ability of the NeMO ontology to act as a sound framework for the conceptual representation of digital tools and services in one important area of the humanities. This mapping enables the categorisation of available tools according to the function they serve, and could permit researchers in the Humanities - even those without a technical background - to consult an authoritative list of tools covering their needs according to the type of activity they wish to undertake. Availability and the role that each tool can play in the research practice may increase its overall use by the community. The representation of the FLOSS Inventory using NeMO adds value to digital research, and the visualization of categorization ratios it provides facilitates an important debate about software development trends, probing the question whether development is weighted towards software tools that address researchers’ needs, a major topic of research in Research Infrastructures across Europe and beyond.

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  5. The AHRC Methods carried out scoping studies on the challenges of access to digital tools in the Humanities: see the series of Working Papers on Digital Tools for the Arts and Humanities: http://www.methodsnetwork.ac.uk/resources/workingpapers.html, and an expert seminar on digital tools: http://www.methodsnetwork.ac.uk/redist/pdf/wg1report.pdf
  6. Unsworth, J. (2000). Scholarly primitives: What methods do humanities researchers have in common, and how might our tools reflect this, Humanities Computing, Formal Methods, Experimental Practice Symposium, pp. 5-100.