Summary: This poster presents work on documenting user needs in the Humanities and Social Sciences as illustrated through Case Studies in the context of the Europeana Cloud “Unlocking Europe's Research via the Cloud” project. Conducted as part of a wider methodological effort including desk research, expert fora and a web survey, methodology and findings of actual use of innovative digital tools and services will be visually represented. This work will form the basis of the Europeana Research Case Studies which will seek to gather and process an evidence-based record of the information practices, needs and scholarly methods in the respective communities.
This poster reports on collaborative, cross-European work conducted during 2013-2015 in the context of the Europeana Cloud “Unlocking Europe's Research via the Cloud” project, and touches upon planned activities in the context of Europeana Research in 2016. Europeana Research is an initiative which aims to create stronger links between the cultural heritage sector and academia. More particularly, it aims to ensure that open, high-quality data from the cultural sector is available for reuse by the digital humanities community.
One of the main objectives of Europeana Cloud was the enhancement of the understanding of digital tools, research processes and scholarly content used in the Humanities and Social Sciences, thus informing the development of tools and aggregation of content in Europeana for research purposes. To this end, and in order to contribute towards the development of the new platform of Europeana Research, Case Studies were developed as part of a wider methodological effort which included desk research, expert fora and web survey for reaching user requirements.
The purpose of this poster is to visually represent the methodology followed and results reached in documenting actual use of innovative digital tools and services in the Humanities and Social Sciences research communities illustrated in three main Case Studies in the disciplines of Education, Art History and Sociology, and further complemented by satellite cases.
The Case Studies were initially selected based on the disciplines and tools that might best make use of current Europeana content. By defining “innovative” as “either performing functions that were previously unavailable, or performing already available functions in a qualitatively different way”, three tools were identified as best fitting this criteria (Transana, HyperImage, NodeXL) enriched by two “satellite” tools more frequently used in the respective research disciplines (NVivo, Voyant).
These were further approached following a threefold methodology of semi-structured interviews, empirical observation of the tools and background research. The results were then discussed both from the perspective of the discipline area, and through the lens of the scholarly primitives (Unsworth 2000, Palmer et al 2009), to determine their use with Europeana content. The poster will also highlight the importance of accessibility of data for research infrastructures and research groups and need to focus on high quality metadata and content both for Europeana Research and the wider GLAM sector, and will illustrate how digital tools are not themselves a guarantee of good research, as researchers do not necessarily use the same digital tool throughout the research process; rather they use one tool per step (one tool = one research primitive).
This poster will also present future work planned to be undertaken in the context of Europeana Research in 2016. Based on Europeana Cloud, a series of new Case Studies will be developed and expanded towards different research communities. The Europeana Research Case Studies will be undertaken in collaboration with existing European research initiatives, and will seek to gather and process an evidence-based record of the information practices, needs and scholarly methods of arts and humanities and social sciences researchers within the broad Europeana ecosystem and particularly in relation to Europeana content. Τhe Case Studies will employ a mixed methods approach combining various ways of gathering empirical evidence on the information needs and scholarly methods employed in digitally-enabled arts and humanities and social sciences research across Europe and beyond.